Hands of Hope

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2009 Wildflower Society

PROJECT FUNDED: $30,000 to build an 8 class room school

Village Celebrates Plan for New School
Digging Soil for Brick Making

Village Celebrates Plan for New School
Village Dads Standing in Front of
the Bricks They have Made

A Few of the Children from Nasikela
A Few of the Children from Nasikela

One of the biggest thrills for our Hands of Hope volunteers is when a project takes root and begins to bloom into something bigger. In the Western Province in Zambia, a successful agricultural business project has opened an opportunity for the Wildflower Society to help villagers break the cycle of terrible poverty by investing in the education of their young people.

Overcrowding Leaves Hundreds Out of School

When Hands of Hope volunteers visited the village of Nasikela to check on the progress of the agricultural projects there, the people told them that their new income earning opportunities inspired them to dream of educational opportunities to their children.

However, the local school is severely overcrowded, leaving hundreds of area children without access to education. Mawawa is the only school available for 10 villages in the outskirts of Mongu, capital of the Western Province. Children travel up to nine miles to get to the school, which has seven classrooms for 16 grades. For those who can attend, crowded conditions mean that some grade levels attend school for less than three hours a day.

Village Celebrates Plans for a New School

Their new economic security gave the local people hope that they could provide their children with the education that they never had. Our Hands of Hope representatives met with the villagers and a chief to develop a plan for a new school. They agreed that a new eight-room school building would relieve overcrowding and allow for longer schools days.

Hands of Hope agreed to loan its new brickmaking machine, if the community provided the labor. In addition, a Wildflower Society contribution of $30,000 would pay for the foundation, timbers, windows, doors, etc. Although the chief did not speak, the people were overjoyed and held a great celebration in the village.

The Chiefs Lend Support

A few weeks later, the chief, and 11 chiefs from outlying villages met with a Hands of Hope representative to say that they had been silently watching to gauge the organization’s commitment to their people. Others had made promises before, but nothing had ever come to pass, they said. Impressed by the plans for a school, the chiefs gave the project their full support. They had already met with the Ministry of Education and garnered a commitment for teachers to staff the future school. Two chiefs also joined the committee overseeing the project.

The community is already hard at work. The men are molding bricks, which (unlike the local handmade bricks) will last for decades. Construction is slated to begin in December, and the school building should be complete in June 2010.

The Wildflower Society Can Change Lives

The cure for poverty is education

The Wildflower Society empowers Hands of Hope to respond quickly to a meaningful opportunity like this. We’ve helped address the immediate economic needs, now because of the generosity of Wildflower members, building for the long term future success of these children and their community is a possibility.

The cure for poverty is education. Your donation will mean that hundreds of children, who had no hope for an education, can realistically dream of becoming a teacher, scientist, nurse, or even president of his or her country.

Special Wildflower Update Report - 2009: Music from a Mother’s Heart

During dusk in 1987, Ariik’s peaceful life in his Sudanese village was shattered while he was taking care of the family cow. He was five years old. The enemy attacked, and a hurricane of fire soon ripped through his village. More than twenty years later, Ariik can still hear the screaming and crying in his mind. Everyone was running away from the soldiers who were burning the village. Ariik was separated from his mother who was running with his younger brother wrapped in her arms. Thousands of children fled toward the forest. The majority of them were boys. They became known as The Lost Boys of Sudan. He was one of the youngest. The oldest was only eleven years old.

Ariik’s life journey would be a heartbreaking one. These children spent two months on the road walking to Ethiopia from Sudan. They had no shoes, no clothes, no food and no adults. When they arrived in Ethiopia, there was no place for them to live. However, the United Nations arrived and arranged the children into twelve groups with 2,000 in each group. The U.N. workers provided clothes, food, and shelter. Ariik even started going to school to learn math and English. Life settled down until four years later a civil war erupted, and once again the Lost Boys of Sudan had to run away. One of the most heart wrenching memories Ariik has of that time was crossing the crocodile infested Gilo River between Sudan and Ethiopia. It took three days for everyone to cross, taking turns on a flat wooden raft. When the enemy tracked them down and started shooting, a lot of children jumped into the river. Ariik witnessed a lot of his friends drown or be eaten by the crocodiles. He flung himself on the ground behind a tree until the spray of bullets stopped.

The Lost Boys made their way to Pochalla where they stayed for six months to hide from the enemy. All the food was gone. Their only sustenance was to eat leaves from trees in the forest. The Red Cross found The Lost Boys and provided food. But once again, the enemy attacked. Helicopters flew overhead. The bombs and the booms of guns pursued these children, who fled by foot. Months later, when they were in Lokichokio, the U.N. arrived and squeezed over a hundred children in each truck to transport them to Kakuma Kenya. Ariik remembers the sensation of not being able to breathe on that truck sandwiched between so many others. That was August 1992. On June 20, 2001, Ariik at last was sent to the United States. He was one of the 150 Lost Boys of Sudan who ended up in the Chicago area. It was his first time on an airplane and his first time in a nice home. Yet he constantly thought about his own home in Sudan. Was his mother still alive?

He was working two jobs and sent people money to find his mother. In March 2006, she called Ariik. He remembers the conversation.

A Few of the Children from Nasikela
Ariik and his mom

"Is it you Ariik?"

"Yes. It’s me. Is it you, mom?"

"Yes."

"But how do I know? How many children do you have?"

"Only two children. One is with me."

But Arrik still wasn’t sure if he was really speaking with his mother. Over twenty years had passed. How could he know that this woman was truly the one who he had been searching for? Then he knew what he must ask. Only his mother would know the answer. "Can you sing the song to me that you sang when I was a little boy?"

His mother sang his special lullaby, and the music from her heart wrapped around Ariik and held him close from across the miles and from his past in Sudan. He was no longer lost. She had made up this song just for him. Before Ariik, his mother had given birth to nine girls. All of them died as babies. Her song for Ariik says "This child I hold is like a cup of water."

In June 2008, he returned to his village for a visit. His mother immediately knew who he was and rushed toward him. They both cried in each other’s arms. Ariik’s mother tried to lift him up as she cradled her adult child who she thought had died.

Ariik brought gifts with him from Hands of Hope for this remote village in the southern part of Sudan. Using money from Wildflower, the monthly donation club, Hands of Hope provided support: $2000 for hoes for their village, $10,000 for two brick making machines to make bricks for a school they are building, and $2000 from the goat card fund. Ariik had joined several other Lost Boys of Sudan to start the non-profit Lost Boys Rebuild Southern Sudan. He believes that education is so important for the future of Sudan’s children.

Ariik expressed his sincere gratitude for the women of Hands of Hope. "Women are everything. I respect the women of Hands of Hope like my own mother. Thank you very much for everything."

Thank you for your generous monthly donations to Wildflower. You are making a tangible difference in the lives of children in Southern Sudan through the life and work of one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.

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