Director’s Blog: Walking on the Moon

In his famous Moon speech, President John F. Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard …”

During the last week of August the leaders all the Villages of Hope met in Lilongwe, Malawi for a Villages of Hope – Africa  Leadership meeting. There were 25 of us in total, some were Village Directors, others Administrators, some had been doing this for years, others were new, yet they all had an interest in bringing hope to children in need.

We were not all Canadians; there was Delson from Burundi, Pastor and Mrs. Zowa from Zimbabwe, Everlyn from Kitwe, John and Jane from Kenya, and our South African friends who are working in Mongu, Zambia. All of us came from various backgrounds – some from backgrounds of ministry, others business, and some from teaching and nursing.

Despite our differences in background, we all had one thing in common: “A desire to care for orphans and vulnerable children in Africa”.

We covered many topics over our three days, discussing Child Protection Policies, Care Plans, transitioning of children back into society once they have grown, and how to best promote our work. The main focus, however, was on house mothers. We discussed how to empower the house mothers of VOH – see, house mothers face a great many challenges as they care for and raise 8 children who are not biologically theirs. We discussed ways that we as leaders can help to help these house mothers in this difficult task and offer support where needed most. We also looked at what characteristics we look for in our house mothers and how that will affect our decisions regarding hiring future mothers.

We discovered in our discussions that the work of a house mother is challenging and the work we do as Village of Hope is hard. It’s not just the work of providing homes for orphans that is hard, rather, all that we do at Villages of Hope is not easy, providing education for the vulnerable, running feeding programs and clinics – none of these are easy assignment.

After attending this meeting, one of the village leadership made a decision to change the direction in which they were heading, stating that after hearing about the challenges of hiring house mothers and some of the experiences the other villages have faced, they thought it best to change the program and focus on youth. This was not the outcome I was expecting from our meeting; I was hoping that the leaders would be inspired to go and feel encouraged and equipped to empower house mothers and ensure that we truly are providing a loving, safe and secure home for children in need. So I challenged this team member not to fear the difficulty, but to face it head on. I encouraged him/her to think of the many children who need a loving, safe, secure home with a loving mother regardless of how hard it is. I reminded him/her that bringing hope to children in need is what Villages of Hope – Africa Society is all about.

Going to the moon was not an easy thing to do. Three astronauts lost their lives during a routine test of Apollo 1. Then there was Apollo 13’s accident which ended with NASA managing to bring three astronauts home in a crippled space craft. But the result of carrying on with the pursuit of the mission was that 12 men walked on the surface of the moon and returned safely home. This great accomplished caught the imagination of the world and will be remembered as “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

How much more should we as human beings continue in the pursuit of bringing hope to children in need regardless of how hard it is!

Thank you to all you who work tirelessly towards this pursuit and to the many people who support our effort financially.

Until next time,

Sergio Bersaglio

Executive Director – Villages of Hope-Africa

 

Ride for Refuge!

This year Villages of Hope-Africa is taking part in
Ride for Refuge

By joining a Villages of Hope-Africa team and/or supporting the Ride for Refuge, you are not only supporting Ride for Refuge and their work with refugees, the exploited, and the vulnerable, but you are also helping raise awareness for Villages of Hope and raise funds to help us continue to help children in need throughout Africa.

What is “The RIDE”?

Ride for Refuge is a fundraising bike marathon that helps bring support and awareness to various charitable organizations (such as Villages of Hope!). From their website: “The Ride for Refuge helps churches and charities fund and promote their work with people who are displaced, vulnerable, and exploited” (find out more HERE).

How is Villages of Hope Involved?

This year, Villages of Hope is taking part in The RIDE by allowing teams to register under our name and raise money for VOH. Currently we have six registered teams (in Brampton, North Bay, Vancouver, and Waterloo) who will all be riding for us.

How Can You Be Involved?

There are several ways to get involved with Villages of Hope in the Ride for Refuge.

1. Register a team – get together some friends and/or coworkers and register a team to ride for Villages of Hope! To register, go to: www.rideforrefuge.org/partner/vohafrica

2. Join a team – if you aren’t sure about starting a team of your own, why not join a team? To join, go to: www.rideforrefuge.org/partner/vohafrica and click on a team from your area (from the yellow box on the right). You will be directed to this team’s page and there you can choose to join (button on left sidebar of page).

3. Sponsor a team – If biking isn’t quite your thing, you can still be involved by sponsoring a team. To do so, to here: www.rideforrefuge.org/partner/vohafrica and click on the team you are interested in sponsoring. Once you are directed to that team’s page, you will see a “Sponsor” button on the left sidebar of the page. You can also sponsor a specific rider by clicking HERE and entering in the first and last name of the person you would like to support.

4. Last (but not least) tell your friends! – Whether you are going to take part in The RIDE or not, don’t forget to spread the word! You never know who of your friends/family/coworkers are dying to take part in a charity bike ride! Direct them to the Ride for Refuge website (www.rideforrefuge.org) where they can search “VOH Africa” to find our page of the R4R website OR get them to contact us.

We look forward to seeing you at the finish line!

 

*banner image taken from Ride for Refuge website (www.rideforrefuge.org)

Director’s Blog: The Cycles of Life

This morning I was reading Ecclesiastes 3: 1-15:  “A Time for Everything; There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.  A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted and so on.

One commentator says of this passage, “Our existence in this world is a mixture of joy and sorrow, harmony and conflict, and life and death.[1]

This is so true. Life is very cyclical – we find ourselves in times of great joy, such as over the birth of a new born child, and then, with the death of a loved one, we move into a time of sorrow. We experience a time of health and then an illness can change everything. And we move from contentment to worry with the news of the down turn in the economy.

The world itself experiences times of peace and times of war. It wasn’t long ago that we saw the wall between east and west torn down, and yet that sense of peace did not last long – it all changed after 9/11.

Nature, too, reveals the cycle every year as we experience times of sowing and of harvest.

This morning while in the gym I could hear the children in the house next door. In a span of 15 minutes they went from laughing to crying, from playing to arguing, and then back to laughing again. They must have gone through this cycle three times. I could also hear their parents –correcting the children for misbehaviour, saying, “Eat your breakfast”, “stop fighting”, and so on.

Even though the children may not have been happy with their parents getting upset with them and telling them what to do, that didn’t change the fact that the parents loved and cared for the children and were only acting out of this care. It reminded me of our relationship with our heavenly Father; regardless of where we are in the cycle of life – a time of laughter or sorrow, celebrating birth or mourning over death, in a time of peace or a time of war – He loves us and is never changing.

We need to remind ourselves, as the writer of Ecclesiastes 3:14 does, that “everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him”.

Present circumstances are not to be used to determine whether the Father loves us. A great lesson learned this morning from some young children.

I recommend we all take the time every now and then from our busy schedules and observe and listen to the children around us. They have a great deal to teach us about life, God, and ourselves.

Until next time,

Sergio Bersaglio

Executive Director – Villages of Hope-Africa

 


[1] Garrett, D. A. (1998). The Poetic and Wisdom Books. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary: Simple, straightforward commentary on every book of the Bible (D. S. Dockery, Ed.) (246). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

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