In 89 days, me and a group of five others will be saying “Adios” to America, and a big “Hello, AGAIN” to southern Africa.
I. Am. PUMPED!
(and terrified, and excited, and nervous, and anxious, and about to lose my mind…)
But, mostly excited.
To think that just over 2 years ago, Ryan and I were making this same trip to visit a pile of bricks in a rural village in Mozambique as a dating couple is kind of unreal. In addition, when I look back at that time, I am even more thankful that God only allows us to see a little at a time. I probably would have had a heart attack by now if He didn’t. Let’s recap with a little timeline of events from then until now, shall we?
December 27, 2011: Ryan and I leave for South Africa, Swaziland, and Mozambique.
January 2-6, 2012: Mancoba, Ryan, and I spend time in Licilo digging an outhouse, mixing concrete by hand from nasty water that had to be retrieved from a mile away, feeding the kids, and getting to know some of the community.
January 5, 2012: ENGAGED! 🙂
January 8, 2012: Return home, I immediately start school and wedding planning.
Spring 2012: We continue to build the school, start working on desks, and begin searching for teachers.
August 5, 2012: Ryan and I get hitched!
Fall 2012: So… we should probably become an organization now. One Heart Africa is officially incorporated! YAY! Meanwhile, the school in Licilo is still under construction and the first fresh-water well in the area is donated and installed!
December 2012: I graduate from college… finally.
February 2013: Sharing Hope Preschool opens with 18 students and 2 local teachers. The feeding program is able to provide meals for around 30-40 kids three times a week.
May 2013: Sharing Hope Preschool becomes an accredited school in Mozambique.
June 2013: 23ish acres of farmland are purchased in Swaziland to provide jobs and food for the community in Swazi and families in Licilo. Sharing Hope Preschool now has 40 students (27 of which are orphans) and 2 teachers. The feeding programs provides meals for anywhere between 40-80 kids three times a week! WE NEED MORE SPACE!
July 2013: Ryan leaves for Mozambique, a vehicle for OHA is purchased (praise the Lord! It was much needed!), and we to begin construction on another classroom for Sharing Hope Preschool
November 2013: OHA’s website and first documentary launch.
December 2013: We submit our 1023 form to the IRS for 501c3 status.
February 2014: Sharing Hope Preschool welcomes 70 kids to school for the first time and we feed them daily, now!
March 2014: Five acres of potatoes, corn, and other crops start to bear their first fruits in Swaziland and construction for a farmhouse/shed is officially underway.
April 2014: Harvests of Hope awards OHA with TWO greenhouses for the farm in Siteki, Swaziland.
Is anybody else’s head spinning? We are certainly overwhelmed with gratefulness and can confidently proclaim that the Lord is faithful and good!
In this blog I tackled (er, attempted to tackle) the question of, “Why?” It’s true, people ask us why we are working in Africa in stead of America all the time. But, perhaps the second most asked question I get is simply, “How?” And even though they only say that one word, I know what they’re really asking. They’re asking us where two young 20’s get the money for all this stuff. We’re still newlyweds, I’m only a year out of college, and we’re both becoming “established” in our careers. Well my friends, I’m glad you asked! It all boils down to the dreaded “fun” word. You know…
As soon as Ryan and I even thought about starting a non-profit organization, we had conversation after conversation about money. We have both seen organizations overseas be completely wrecked by corruption or misuse of funds, so being “sticklers” on what we spend money on was and is an area of great importance and transparency for us. In addition, we know how draining it is to constantly get bombarded with support letters, “buy this t-shirt,” and “Go Fund Me” campaigns. Up until this year, our monthly expenses have been affordable for us. Our tithe as well as monthly donations from a few other people have been sufficient for the organization’s needs. However, we are growing rapidly.
The harvest is so ripe in southern Africa. We are being presented with opportunity after opportunity to build schools, wells, farms, and community centers. We have the opportunity to feed children who have never known that there’s such thing as a “balanced meal” because you either have food or you don’t. We have the opportunity to provide medical attention in an area whose HIV/AIDS rate is 25% and where roughly 1 in 5 kids die by their fifth birthday because of easily preventable diseases and situations. Can I be honest for a second? I enjoy asking for money about as much as I enjoy waking up before 6am or cleaning my hair brush (I know all my long-hair-don’t-care girls out there feel me), but we simply can’t grow in our current state. This whole “community development” thing is expensive and we need you.
1. Sponsor a child.
(Cue that Sarah McLaughlin song…) Only $20 a month provides free education, school supplies, a uniform, medical care, and food to one of our precious Mozambabies. And though I feel like I’m being super cheesy right now, that $20 could keep your sponsored child alive. In an area where meals are few and far between and water is the color of leftover pasta water (yuck), a simple meal of beans and rice and clean, filtered water is a matter of life and death. Twenty bucks, y’all. That’s it.
2. Give towards the summer team.
Nothing changes your whole world like going to Africa, holding the babies you’ve prayed for, eating what they eat, seeing where they live, meeting mothers (or NOT meeting mothers), or hearing with your own ears a teary-eyed parent say, “Take my child back to America. Please take her,” with a serious, desperate, and heartbreaking tone. It was a short-term mission trip that birthed the vision for One Heart Africa, so Ryan and I are VERY passionate about taking others with us. Who knows, maybe one (or five) of the participants on this trip will decide to move to Swaziland with us one day. *wink, hint, etc.*
Also, I’m just gonna throw this out there, Ryan and I are in constant need of plane tickets. If you have connections with flights or airlines, have air miles you want to donate, or just want to sponsor plane tickets for us, we would probably name our first born after you. It’s a huge need for us!
3. Support OHA building projects.
In the past year, Ryan and I have been asked to build another well, a new medical clinic in Licilo, one more classroom at Sharing Hope Preschool, a primary school for grades 1-8, a secondary school for grades 9-12, and an orphanage. In addition, we hope to build a guest house where we can host groups on the farm in Swaziland. Holy building budget, Batman! Each classroom costs about $5,000 fully furnished. If you would like to sponsor one of these projects, please email me! (see below)
So there you go. Fundraising awesomeness. Let me just say real quick though, over the past few months Ryan and I have felt so blessed and humbled to have people come along side of us and “catch the vision.” We are overwhelmed with thankfulness for you guys! Seriously, your generosity makes me cry – a lot. If you would like to become a monthly partner or give, there’s a snazzy little “Give” tab on our website or you can click here. Make sure to put what you are giving toward (IF you are giving towards a specific person or project) in the “Message to Seller” box. If snail mail is more your style, you can send donations to:
One Heart Africa – PO Box 701 – Charleston, TN 37310
You guys are incredible human beings, ya know? Go do something great today!
Anna Carmichael, Co-Founder One Heart Africa