Director’s Blog: Turning words into action

I was in a meeting that focused on an application for a government grant. Grant applications can be complicated and time consuming. We spent most of our time on the “Logic Model,” which includes ultimate outcomes, intermediate outcomes, outputs and activities. I understand the reason why donors, especially government organizations, require organizations to go through this process and I am not opposed to them. However, that said there is need for caution for those of us who are involved in caring for the vulnerable of this world.

I came across “A Letter to a Young Activist” by Thomas Merton and it came to mind as I was working through the Logic Model.  Merton told his young friend, “Do not depend on the hope of results.  When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on… In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.”

In this day and age it is easy to get caught up in the institutional language of the NGO world; so much time and energy is spent on Vision and Mission Statements, Core Values, Codes of Conduct and so on. We spend large amounts of man-hours doing strategic planning. I am not saying these things don’t hold value, but eventually we have to move from talking about it to actually doing it.  As Thomas Merton went on to tell the young activist, “You are fed up with words, and I don’t blame you.  I am nauseated by them sometimes.  I am also, to tell you the truth, nauseated by ideals and with causes.  This sounds like heresy, but I think you will understand what I mean.  It is so easy to get engrossed with ideas and slogans and myths that in the end one is left holding the bag, empty, with no trace of meaning left in it…”

Too often organizations, under the pressure to raise the much needed resources, feel they have to create unrealistic outcomes in order to attract donors and pressure to achieve these outcomes rises. Organizations begin to lose focus and their vision becomes too broad. I am a firm believer in narrowing the focus and keeping it simple. Otherwise as Merton cautions, “we begin to build yourself an identity in your work, out of your work and witness,” and “that is not the right use of your work.”

As the Executive Director of Villages of Hope – Africa Society I am committed to keeping to our call to bring hope to children at risk. Yes I will continue to do strategic planning and yes I will complete the logic model, but I will strive to not let words but rather our actions define who we are.

“The real hope, then, is not in something we think we can do, but in God who is making something good out of it in some way we cannot see.  If we can do His will, we will be helping in this process.  But we will not necessarily know all about it beforehand . . .”

Until next time,

Sergio Bersaglio

Executive Director – Villages of Hope – Africa


Video: Mateyo Mwansa Tours VOH-Kitwe

Mateyo Mwansa from the Kitwe Village of Hope tours us around the site.
This video is taken directly from our YouTube channel


Welcome to Villages of Hope – Africa’s Blog!

About this blog:

Welcome to Villages of Hope Africa’s blog. We are excited to use this blog as a means to keep you up-to-date with the latest news coming from each village as well as to share stories from the children, staff, visitors, and donors of Villages of Hope.

About Villages of Hope:
Villages of Hope – Africa is a Canadian charitable organization registered with the CRA VOH-A provides food, education and healthcare to children in need. We also provide housing for children who have no place to live. Our mission is to bring lasting hope to children at risk so they can embrace adulthood as independent and contributing members of society.
Villages of Hope – Africa (VOH-A) began in 1999 in Kitwe, Zambia and we now have locations in (Bujumbura) Burundi, (Kisumu) Kenya, (Lilongwe) Malawi, (Kitwe, Mongu and Chongwe) Zambia and (Harare) Zimbabwe.

Contact Us:
For more information about Villages of Hope – Africa you can visit our website OR you can email us at info[at ]

Other VOH-Africa Links:

Follow us on Twitter: @voh_africa
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According to UNICEF’s 2008 state of the world’s children, “Most children whose parents are ill or deceased have their education interrupted”. UNICEF also states that “Orphans are less likely to be in school and more likely to fall behind or drop out, compromising their abilities and prospects”. Adult literacy rates in many sub-saharan countries are low. And in the countries we operate in, they average around 70% – with the lowest being Burundi at 67%. Villages of Hope Africa responds to these critical issues by providing free education from preschool to grade 12 for over 2000 children. The children and youth attending a Village of Hope school are taught from local government curriculum and write government exams. The schools also provide the opportunity to be involved in sports, music and other extra-curricular activities providing a well rounded education for the students. Being able to attend school has brought hope for a brighter future to each child.

How you can help us provide Education:

  • Sponsor a class $275 per month
  • Sponsor a Teacher $50 per month
  • Youth High School Completion $40 per month

CLICK HERE TO DONATE (donations can be made online or via cheque)

View our other Programs



UNICEF states that “In HIV/AIDS affected households lacking community support, food consumption can drop by more than 40 percent, putting children at higher risk of malnutrition and stunting”.

Villages of Hope Africa provides nutrition every day to over 3000 orphaned and vulnerable children through our school programs. Eighty-five percent (85%) of these children come from communities surrounding a Village of Hope location, with the remaining 15% living at a Village of Hope.

By providing either H.E.P.S. (High Energy Protein Supplement) porridge or a comparable nutritious meal, the care givers of these children have the peace of mind knowing that their child is receiving their daily nutritional requirements.

A UNICEF study in Zimbabwe revealed that the proportion of children from households with serious food deficits dropping out of school, related directly to whether or not they were part of a school feeding program during the preceding school year. UNICEF determined that “School feeding programs keep vulnerable children in school”.

Through our nutrition program we are able to not only provide children with the nutrition they need, but also prevent malnutrition from inhibiting their education.

How you can help us provide Nutrition:

  • Feeding Program $30 per child per year

CLICK HERE TO DONATE (donations can be made online or via cheque)

View our other Programs