Tell Me About Africa

I’ve been feeling a little bit guilty. Ever since I posted that I was going to Africa, I’ve inevitably been asked, “so, tell me about Africa.” I’ve sort of brushed off the question. “I haven’t been there yet.” But now I can see that that answer is kind of rude (I’m sorry). I mean, I said I’m going to Africa! People are going to ask me about it.  The truth is, I don’t have a lot of details. I’m kind of stepping out on faith.  And I’m not quick on my feet when I need a response.  I find I’m much more articulate when I write. Regardless of my weaknesses, I feel prompted to have an answer when people say, “so, tell me about Africa.”

At the kitchen table that day, I decided it was “GO time.” I was determined to serve in Africa. I’m big into “next steps,” so I thought I would just start the process by doing some research.  I knew I wanted to go with a Christian group, so I contacted two that I had supported in the past. Both organizations were willing to lead a team next summer, but in the end, I chose Little Dresses for Africa (LDFA), a non-profit organization based out of Michigan .

I first heard of LDFA at our old church, where one of the girls organized a sewing party. So I have supported them by making dresses for them in the past. The dresses are made out of simple patterns (using pillowcases or a yard or so of inexpensive fabric). The dresses are distributed throughout the villages of Africa. Most of these girls only own one dress, which is often tattered and worn. Our dresses, made with love from around the world, are a symbol to these young girls that they are worthy. (LDFA also collects and distributes “britches for boys”).

Next September, we’ll be heading to Malawi, a small land-locked country in East Africa, about the size of New Jersey.  It is known as the “warm heart of Africa” because of the friendliness of it’s people. There are approximately 14 million people, almost half of which are under the age of 14. Due to the widespread AIDS pandemic, many young girls are left to care for their younger siblings. So essentially, they are babies raising babies. Three out of five children will die before the age of 5 and 30% more by the age of ten.

We are still in the very early planning stages. Later on, I’ll be able to skype in on planning meetings. Or, the founder of LDFA and team leader for this trip (Rachel) will update me via email. And I will update you too! Here’s what I think I know about our trip so far:

We will land in the capital city of Lilongwe and travel from there to “the bush,” a village called Ntcheu (Na-chay-oo). In addition to distributing the dresses, our mission team will likely:

  • hold Bible classes, children’s camps and informal teaching sessions concerning nutrition, clean water, sanitation, good health & family skills.
  • have the opportunity to distribute “Buckets of Hope”.  These brightly colored buckets contain such things as salt, sugar, flour, oil and mosquito netting, which will be delivered to the widows and care-givers of those suffering from AIDS.  Why this strange mix of supplies? I have no idea. Perhaps they’re baking cakes… in a bed covered with mosquito netting? I’ll blog about all of the details later.
  • travel to the village of Thobola. LDFA has partnered with this village to build a primary school for its children. The community made the bricks themselves and LDFA supplied the money for the mortar and beams, roofs, and doors.

There’s a lot going on in Malawi and I’m happy to be a part of it. But, I am a mother of two young children, so you’re probably wondering how I’m able to pull this off. God has given me the heart to serve and He has also given me the resources. My number one resource is the man I am married to. He may not share my affinity for plastic bottle houses, but he loves me. I am encouraged to chase my crazy dreams, with full support from him. I am blessed. So while I travel to Africa, he will hold down the fort here. He’s scheduled to be on sabbatical from the University, so as he does his research from home, he will play Mr. Mom for the 2 weeks I am gone.

So what’s my “next step?”  For the next several months, I will be doing my best to raise funding for this trip. I will need to raise approximately $3500, which will cover travel, lodging and many of my meals while I am there.  I have my own donation page on the LDFA website (more on that later). All donations are tax-deductible.

I’m sure I could find the means to save this money on my own.  But by raising the money, I desire to do a few things:

  1. I want to work for this.  This is not a vacation for me.
  2. Bring awareness to the people of Africa who we will be serving.
  3. Allow others to feel blessed by contributing to the cause.
So stay tuned, because I want to make this a community endeavor. If you’re willing to support me on my quest to serve in Africa, then I’ll have tangible ways you can help.  Zikomo!
…And if you don’t like supporting global missions projects, perhaps you’d like to support something closer to home? Like dads who are stuck at home with high energy children while their wives go to Africa. ;)