in Africa - 7 min read
Walking into the doors of World Help in August 1994, I was quickly introduced to an oversized needy world outside my own selfish walls. Something so unfamiliar to me became an everyday mission. I had head knowledge of things that went on around the world, but never heart knowledge . . . until then.
To me, Africa was what I had seen and heard about in school, Tarzan movies, and National Geographic Magazines . . . never really gave it much thought. Ignorance and non-interest was my excuse, but I soon began to see Africa as people . . . millions upon millions of them just like me: A creation of God with the same dreams, desires, wants, and needs. But with one huge difference. For the majority, they live a life full of civil unrest, poverty, sickness, hardship, and hopelessness.
My introduction to the continent of Africa was through the country of Rwanda on a trip in 2003. Nearly 10 years after the 1994 genocide that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children, World Help sent a team on a fact-finding trip into this country. I knew about the genocide, but didn’t really know about it . . . but I was going to get the chance. They returned with incredible stories and photos . . . actual interviews with survivors and even some with those who had committed these travesties. What we heard and saw was an inconceivable glimpse into unspeakable acts. I was completely overwhelmed by the viciousness and brutality neighbors committed against each other. People actually buried alive; locked in burning buildings with no way out . . . unbelievable. What could be done? Would there ever be healing?
Then came reports of “night commuters” in Northern Uganda . . . children fleeing their homes at night to escape being kidnapped by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). As quickly as could be arranged, our team headed out. I remember watching the videos they captured while in country, hearing the accounts of so many scared and sobbing children left me in total disbelief. These young boys and girls taken from their homes by gunpoint, turned into killing machines, forced to kill their parents and siblings or be killed themselves, beaten, young girls raped and having babies . . . while still babies themselves. Some so ashamed by what they had done, they couldn’t even talk about it . . . their heads hung in shame.
As a mom and grandmother myself . . . my heart shattered! I wanted to put my arms around them, squeeze them so tight, and tell them it was going to be okay . . . to kiss away the nightmares. But there was no one to care what happened next . . . they became Uganda’s Forgotten Children, bearing the scars that would penetrate their very being and shape their lives forever. But could we forget them?
When the subject of providing help for HIV/AIDS victims in sub-Saharan Africa came up, I wasn’t sure it was worth the effort. This was not a popular subject and what more could we say or do that’s not already been done? Everyone knows about HIV/AIDS . . . it’s been around for a long time. So why now?
BECAUSE OF THE CHILDREN . . . millions of AIDS orphans . . . millions of innocent victims. Visiting in many villages, we talked with young children who by default had become the head of their household . . . responsible for several younger siblings. Many children had watched helplessly as their parents died right in front of them. Some of the children were also dying from AIDS or had the HIV virus. Their faces spoke a thousand words. These children with nowhere to go, no one to turn to, no one to provide for them . . . they were on their own. Of course the grandmother instinct kicked in again: Who was going to help them? Who would be their voice? Who would give them hope in a hopeless situation?
World Help was there in these crises and many more. In this vast continent comprised of 54 countries, the needs are immense . . . but so is our passion to help. We’ve established children’s homes, child sponsorship programs, feeding programs, clean-water initiatives, vocational schools, medical clinics, sent humanitarian supplies, planted churches and built church buildings, provided Bibles and counseling venues . . . whatever and wherever needs are the greatest.
We don’t always know what’s coming next, but we are willing to walk through the doors that God opens. World Help exists to serve the physical and spiritual needs of people in impoverished communities around the world . . . and it defines everything we do.
When our teams travel to Africa, or any country for that matter, to gather the facts . . . they do it to help those of us back home, like me and you, to understand the need, to grasp the urgency, to connect with the people themselves, to be able to share intelligently the needs that make World Help do what we do best—provide help and hope. But we don’t do it alone . . . we do it through our partnerships with YOU!
Although I’ve not been to Africa personally, for 18 years I’ve heard and seen with my own eyes the impact these crises and compassion for people have had on my co-workers. I’ve heard them pray. I’ve seen the tears and emotion when there seemed to be no answer. I’ve noticed the exhaustion on faces after returning from a stressful trip. I’ve felt the exasperation when things didn’t always move as quickly as we would have liked. I’ve understood the frustration when money was tight. I’ve watched the cogs in the wheel begin to turn as creative juices flowed as to the best, most strategic way to help. I’ve labored alongside our team for hours just finding the correct wording to convey the need. I’ve celebrated the successes and cried with the disappointments.
I will begin my 19 years of service with World Help in August, and I can humbly look back and see where we’ve come from and the incredible things God has done and allowed me to be a small part of. I’ve watched as this small, unknown ministry with all the ups and downs, evolved into a multi-million dollar God-led, God-blessed organization. I’m looking forward to what He has in store for us in the future as we accomplish great things for Him around the world.
People always ask me “Is World Help for real?” For me . . . we are as real as it gets! We are hands on, strategic, and accountable. I’m thankful to be used of God to impact millions of lives around the world—even from behind a computer.
World Help is impacting Africa in so many positive ways . . . transforming lives and restoring hope to the hopeless. And there’s more to be done!
Ways To Get Involved in Africa
CHILD SPONSORSHIP: World Help believes in changing the world . . . one child at a time. When a child has the resources needed not only to survive—but thrive—he has the potential to become a world-changer. Provide a child with nutrition, clean water, education, spiritual nurturing, and love. It’s an investment that lasts a lifetime and beyond. SPONSOR A CHILD >>
VOCATIONAL TRAINING: Empowering young adults with the skills training they need to earn an income is one of the greatest tools we can give toward building more sustainable communities. But a trade doesn’t just mean a paycheck—it instills confidence, dignity, and can be passed on to the next generation. GIVE TO SUPPORT VOCATIONAL TRAINING >>
CLEAN WATER: Clean water is essential to life, yet 780 million people around the world still live without it. When you give clean water to a community in need, its physical and economic condition will strengthen, child mortality plummets, school enrollment grows . . . and following generations are transformed. GIVE TO PROVIDE CLEAN WATER >>