Childrenís Home is a place like no other. Once you enter Ė you
will never be the same. This place has the ability to soften the
hardest heart and to open minds to possibilities unknown. It is
a sanctuary in the middle of a vast plain where children are
loved and cared for in ways we may never understand.
When my daughter was in eighth grade, she came home from school
bubbling about Mother Theresa and all she had done to help those
in need. She was so eager to learn more about her. She said, ďI
want to be like Mother Theresa, I want to help the babies in
Africa.Ē Of course, Mother Theresa was based in India but I
didnít correct her. I applauded her desire to help anyone in
need and admired her sense of innocence.
I first learned about Kasisi from my daughter. She was in high
school then and told me about a mission trip information meeting
she had attended that day at school. The trip would involve
travelling to, you guessed it, Africa.
To help the babies. I was stunned. HonestlyÖ.what are the
She went on to tell me there was a trip planned for that summer,
to travel to an orphanage to help care for hundreds (Hundreds?
Could that be right?) of children.
Africa was somewhere I had never considered travelling. Not even
on my list of possible vacation destinations, let alone mission
work. Where do they sleep? What do they eat? Would it be safe?
When she looked at me and said, ďWeíre going, right?Ē
How could I resist? Yes. We would go.
Our group spent several months learning about the needs of the
children, gathering supplies and donations of medical items and
clothing. We spent time in contact with Sister Mariola. We made
a visit to the doctor to make sure we had proper immunizations
and medications for travel.
This was really going to happen. After a very long trip, we
arrived at Kasisi.
We dropped our bags in our rooms and walked to the orphanage. As
we took in our new surroundings, the air, the soil, the
community garden we passed, it was an exciting time.
Upon arriving at Kasisi, we were greeted by Sister Mariola.
Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. When we
entered the courtyard just inside the front door of the complex,
we were surrounded by so many small children it was
Even today, eight years later, it brings tears to my eyes, like
it did then. These children were joyful and beautiful. All the
preparation and planning and to-do lists had culminated in this
one moment. There they were, with their hand-me-down clothes and
big brown eyes staring up at us. I was immediately in love.
We spent just over two weeks helping care for the children,
getting to know the sisters and taking a few sightseeing
excursions. We witnessed what itís like to coordinate the care
and feeding of such a large group of people. We saw piles of
laundry in the laundry building, along with bushels of
vegetables and beans for meals.
We tasted nshima and ate a meal with our hands one night at
dinner. We went to the city market to purchase handmade items
created by local artists. We visited Victoria Falls and took a
river cruise where we saw local wildlife. It was an incredible
experience all around.
To hear about the needs of all these children is one thing, to
see it first-hand is quite another. I could see there was a
great need for clothes and shoes and medical items but, we were
there for just a blip in time. What could we do?
We returned home changed forever. Months went by and the
experience stayed with me.
That fall, it was announced there would be another trip the
following summer. Of course, my daughter wanted to go again.
This time, she said, she did not want to do any of the extra
trips and sightseeing. She wanted to spend as much time with the
children as possible. She was willing to give up the extra
excursions so she could stay at Kasisi.
The second year, I was not able to attend so I sent
contributions toward a well that was to be dug near the local
village. I also started gathering things I thought might be
helpful for the children: clothes, shoes, medical supplies,
I was put in contact with a Zambian man living in the US, who
regularly shipped items via cargo ship to Lusaka.
The arrangement was simple: I would give him a box full of
supplies and $350 cash and he would get the box(es) to Lusaka
for Sister Mariola to pick up at a local warehouse. I didnít
know the man personally, but I knew someone who did.
I didnít know if the box I had packed would get to Kasisi or
not. There was no insurance, no tracking, no guarantee.
That began as what is now a normal routine of shipping boxes
twice a year full of supplies. I never know exactly what I will
be sending. God handles that part of it.
Each shipment takes on a personality of its own. Sometimes, itís
clothing. Sometimes itís school supplies or shoes. Whatever Iím
given, I send, knowing God has a plan. Iíve sent oxygen tubing,
ostomy supplies, surplus 5K t-shirts, EMS uniforms/jackets, even
When Iím approached by someone who has donations, they often
question, ďcan they use this?Ē Whatever it is, I always say,
ďYes!Ē, for I never know how an item can be used beyond its
originally intended purpose. A brand new 5K t-shirt may be the
ďSunday bestĒ someone needs for church. Those EMS jackets? They
are highly reflective and make for safe travel by bicycle on
dark country roads. Bumper stickers become tape. Iíve washed
clothing size newborn to adult so itís ready to wear when it
gets to Kasisi. Iíve hit up clearance sections in pharmacies and
office supply stores. Iíve purchased childrenís vitamins in
I estimate over the past seven years, Iíve sent a total of 25
boxes (we use U-Haul wardrobe boxes that measure 2ft X 2ft X
4ft). I sometimes wonder if this season of my life is done and
there will be no need for me to send boxes. Iíve prayed to God
that if it is His will, I will l continue to send supplies.
Without fail, I receive a call or text that someone has items to
donate and they ask if Iím, ďthe lady who sends things to
AfricaĒ. And, I always say yes.