Posts Tagged ‘children’

Project 5+2: Blessing Many

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Missions, Stories, Village Project Africa

Guest blogger Audrey Armstrong shares her experience distributing 5+2 bags assembled and shipped by Church at the Crossing last year as a special partnership with VPA.

Have you ever wondered how the people (especially the children) on the hillside that day reacted when Jesus blessed the lunch of loaves and fishes and started passing them out to the thousands?  The Bible doesn’t go into detail, but I have the feeling I experienced it this past summer.

It happened at the end of that school day back in July.  We had barely recovered from the eReader celebration and were measuring feet for a “new shoe” project coming up.

   “When out on the lawn there arose such a shout, 
     We sprang from our tables to see what it was about!”

 Delivery of gifts to AfricaNo, it wasn’t Christmas, and it wasn’t Santa Claus.  It was better than that.  A huge open truck filled with brown, slightly travel-worn boxes was pulling into the gates of the school.  From every corner came shouting, waving, leaping students.  They surrounded the truck and escorted it across the playground and to the door of the multi-purpose building.  The queen herself couldn’t have had a more enthusiastic procession.  How did they know?  Who told them it was the long awaited 5+2 backpacks arriving in that truck?  By the time we got to the building, the students had crowded inside and were celebrating with cheers, screams, dances, claps, and hugs.  I can’t even describe the excitement and joy on those faces.  And the noise—oh my goodness!

It took our team a whole day to sort and organize the bags.  We had to be sure every student at Heritage Academy had their bag with their name on it.  The letters inside were personal, and it was important to us that we matched them up correctly.  We said lots of prayers, hoping we could distribute the bags and not leave any child without one.  We had a few extra empty bags and a bit of “stuff.”  God really multiplied it so we had enough for every child and every adult connected with the school.  And all the time we worked, small faces were peering into the windows of our workspace, trying to control their anticipation.

African children receiving giftsThe next morning the bags were distributed class by class, and the children carried them out to the playground.  They sat quietly (almost) in the hot African sun, all 500+ of them, until every child at the school had a bag in their arms. Then Pastor Joseph thanked the friends at Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis for this display of thoughtfulness, effort, and love.  He thanked us—the team who just felt blessed to be a witness to the event.  He led the children in a beautiful prayer, thanking God for people on the other side of the world who cared for children and showed that love in such a tangible way.

African woman with Bible

What happened next was just remarkable.  The children started moving.  Some big brothers and sisters found younger siblings.  They gathered together in groups and carefully began to explore their bags, helping each other when needed.  Two memories I have were of a little girl hugging a baby doll and a small boy making a road through the dust as he pushed a little car along. That boy was so caught up with the car that he didn’t even look at the backpack full of treasures sitting there beside him.  The children tried on socks, counted pencils, examined toothpaste and smelled bars of soap.  They played catch with balls, played with trucks and stuffed animals, and jumped rope.  The brightly colored washcloths were a hit too.  We saw them worn on heads like hats and tucked into waistbands.  The adults were also excited.  The lady who received a Bible just shouted and cried as she waved it over her head.  She carefully put it back in her bag and then, two minutes later, she pulled it out and was waving it and praising God again.

 5 + 2!!!  I feel like I was twice blessed.  First, to witness the fun and pride of the families, both children and adults, at Church at the Crossing as they chose a child, carried an empty backpack home, and returned it full.  Usually there was a letter addressed to the child and maybe a picture of themselves and their dog inside the bag.  I have no doubt the bags were also filled with love and prayers.  My second blessing was to be at Heritage Academy when the truck pulled into the schoolyard and those African children knew someone cared about them.  Prayers are important to the children and they need to know we are praying, but when you’re a child, having tangible evidence—with your very own name on it—well, that’s impressive evidence that someone knows you and loves you.

It’s been some months since I was in Africa, but the emotional impact is still alive whenever I remember.  I may forget the facts (it’s an “age thing” with me) but I will not get over the joy.  It makes me smile again right now!  I know what 5+2 means in a whole new way.

Village Project Africa is thankful for all who have participated in this program for the last two years and who are participating again this year! What a blessing each of you are to the children and teachers at Heritage Academy!

 

Before You Buy Another Ugly Christmas Sweater…

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Village Project Africa

Rotator-Sweater

$20 can provide a warm and bright Christmas for a child at Heritage Academy.
Give a sweater to keep a child warm both day and night.

Sweaters. How many do you have in your closet at this very moment? I have 15 pull-over sweaters that I just pulled to the front of my closet after hearing the weatherman announce that temperatures were going to be significantly colder this weekend.  I have to be honest and say that I don’t wear all the sweaters I own, but I keep some of them “just in case” I need an old wool sweater to keep me warm if I decide to build a snowman or “just in case” my size ever changes and I fit into that odd-fitting turtleneck. I have so many sweaters that I have to actually decide which one I will wear on a given day.

Torn sweaterThe kids at Heritage Academy cannot even begin to imagine what that morning quandary is like. When it comes to deciding what sweater to wear, most of them have one choice, if any choice at all. And they hold onto their sweaters—long after we would have tossed the same sweater in the trash or taken it to Goodwill—because they don’t have a replacement. They will either wear sweaters that provide some ounce of warmth or have no warmth at all. We often see children whose sweaters are barely hanging on their bodies because they need something to help them stay as warm as they possibly can.

Now, wait a minute, you might be saying, It’s Africa! Isn’t it hot? You might be surprised to learn that it is not warm all the time in Kenya. In fact, it can get down into the 30s at night during the winter. And for many kids at Heritage Academy sweaters are not only their source for warmth during the day, but at night as well. Many of the children do not have a mattress or a blanket to stay warm—they rely entirely on an often ragged sweater to stay warm.

This year, as you pull out your sweaters and get ready for cooler temperatures, please consider helping us provide a warm sweater for a child at Heritage Academy. Our Christmas focus this year is to raise money to buy new sweaters for the children of Heritage Academy. We don’t want to see a single child left cold because they don’t have a sweater or they have a sweater that barely counts.

Instead of buying another “ugly Christmas sweater,” why not provide a sweater for Christmas to a child in need? $20 will buy a high quality, durable sweater and provide warmth both day and night.  Contact us today for more information, or donate online. Just be sure to indicate that your donation is for the Christmas sweaters project. You can also send a check or money order the old-fashioned way to PO Box 382, Noblesville, IN 46061.

Your donation can make a difference in the life of a child!

 

 

E-Readers Come to Heritage Academy

Written by admin. Posted in Children, Education, Stories, Village Project Africa

 Guest blogger Audrey Armstrong shares details about the excitement surrounding this summer’s introduction of e-Readers to Heritage Academy.

Hidden ereadersE-Reader Day had finally arrived. The cafeteria was swept, mopped, and decorated.  Chairs had been arranged. Songs and poems had been rehearsed by the students.  Government officials, special guests, community friends, parents, and family members had been invited and were assembling in the hall. Even some guests from Indianapolis were waiting with anticipation as the students and teachers filed in and took their places.  On the table in the front of the room was a huge pile of something, hidden under a cloth.

Children with ereadersThe program started with prayers of praise and thanksgiving followed by welcome songs and speeches from both leaders and students. Finally it was time for the main event!  With loud cheering and clapping the veil was swept aside and e-Readers became visible on the table. Not just a few, but 50—enough for every 6th grader to have one. What followed was truly amazing. First came a demonstration by a few students showing how the e-readers were opened and how they could be read. The remainder of the 6th graders were then handed their e-reader, and with joy and celebration, they moved into the audience demonstrating to their families and neighbors how print appeared on the little screens and more importantly, how they could read their own book. The parents were so overwhelmed with amazement and joy they formed a huge parade and were joined by visitors and students alike. Such clapping and cheering, dancing and hugging!! They all were celebrating the tremendous step forward for Heritage Academy students. The students were proud and excited with anticipation and the parents were amazed at the magic of technology being made available to their children as they continue to master the written word.

Parents with ereadersHow did this all come to be? When a Sunday school class in Indianapolis was presented with the need, they accepted the challenge to help these students get books and raised $10,000 to purchase the readers and provide for the training. What seemed like a large sum was raised quickly when a group of people each gave what they could. Next, VPA partnered with Worldreader to supply the e-readers and program them with text books and other books in both English and Swahili. The Worldreader team came to Heritage Academy, spending a week training first the teachers and then overseeing the training of the students on the use of the technology. (Such an exciting learning curve it proved to be!) The training team completed their work and joined parents and students in celebrating the successful beginning of a new era. The Sunday school class in Indianapolis joined with prayers and anticipation of changed lives and more opportunities for the students of Heritage Academy.

 

Christmas in July–5&2 Bags Arrive!

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Missions, Village Project Africa

A huge thank you to the congregation of Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis, Indiana for collecting and putting together backpacks for all the children in our school again this year. After packing all the bags and shipping them to Kenya, several members of the church were on hand in the village last month to help distribute the bags to the children. Before receiving backpacks through the 5&2 project, many of the children had never had new pencils, crayons, notebooks, or toys. The absolute joy seen and heard when the bags are handed out is priceless. This year, in addition to providing backpacks for the children, Church at the Crossing also put together bags for our teachers and staff filled with school supplies and other useful items. What a special gift to our school! 

And now… on to the happy! 

Joy!This is what joy looks like!

So many boxes, so many bags!

Modeling the new backpacks!

Such excitement when the bags are handed out!

The kids were so excited about the contents of the backpacks.

A new book to read–one of the most requested items!

Damarius loves her new doll…

As does Shanny!

After the kids received their new bags, it was the staff’s turn!

They were so thrilled with the contents of the bags!

 

A big thank you from Village Project Africa to the congregation and staff of Church at the Crossing and our sponsors who helped make this possible!

Food for Thought

Written by lauren. Posted in Children, Sponsorship

I came home this evening to dishes piled in the sink and pots and pans left on the stove from a hasty dinner prepared before my husband and I both ran out the door for different meetings. I have to admit that I grumbled to myself a bit as I filled the sink with soap and water and prepared to attack the baked on cement that had been refried beans hours earlier. As I scrubbed and scraped the dishes, I suddenly remembered something I read this weekend and I began to feel ashamed of my grumbling.

I have the pleasure of reading the interviews of every child eligible for sponsorship in our program, and I often write their brief bios to help potential sponsors get to know each child a little better. On Saturday, I spent some time going over some recent interviews and came across one that really made me stop and think. Our interviewers have started asking the children what they have had to eat that day and what they consider to be their favorite food. Most of the kids say they’ve had tea, maybe some chapati (a kind of bread), and that when they go home they may have ugali (a Kenyan dish of cornmeal and water) and vegetables, maybe some fish. When it comes to the question about favorite foods, I always think about the answers that kids give here in the U.S. I know when I was the age of some of these kids, my reply was always macaroni and cheese. These kids, however, will probably never know what macaroni and cheese tastes like, may never see a pizza, and may never have the pleasure of eating a cold ice cream cone on a hot day. No, the typical favorites found at the top of a child’s list in the US were nowhere to be found in the interviews I read. The most common favorite foods of the kids at Heritage? Rice.
Bread. Meat.

But the one that came to me today as I washed the dishes from a meal, lavish by Makutano standards, was six-year-old Wilson’s favorite food. When asked what his favorite food was, Wilson said milk. Milk is his favorite food. Just think about that for a second. I thought about it on Saturday, but I really thought about it again today. How many times do we take even the most basic parts of our diets for granted? It’s astounding to think that those “basics” are the very things that kids in Makutano, around the world, even here in our own country, dream about and savor, if given the opportunity.

Needless to say, I had a different perspective as I finished cleaning up. I think we often take for granted so much that we are given in life, and my experiences with the children at Heritage Academy remind me time and time again of this truth. These children aren’t asking for cheeseburgers or the latest gadgets. Their needs are for the very things we often don’t even think twice about—they need opportunity for an education, they need love, they need care, and they need something more than just tea and vegetables to eat.

Want to share with these kids just a taste of what we take for granted? Check out our sponsorship page

“For I was hungry, and you fed me…” Matthew 25:35

Village Project Africa

It was a special night in San Francisco last night. We celebrated achievement and talked about the work ahead for Village Project Africa with our partners at Brighter Children. We are grateful for their vision and support! ... See MoreSee Less

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If you’re near Noblesville, Indiana today, stop by the farmer’s market at Federal Hill Commons to talk to a sweet seven-year-old who is using her crafting skill to raise money for kids at Heritage Academy! ... See MoreSee Less

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Anyone who has visited our schools knows how interested our kids are in cameras and photography. Thanks to some kind donations, yesterday our Photography Club was launched at the high school! This group of budding photographers is beyond excited. ... See MoreSee Less

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A huge thanks to our friends at Church at the Crossing who gathered to write notes of encouragement for our students as they prepare for testing! ... See MoreSee Less

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4 months ago

Village Project Africa

It was an exciting day at the high school today! Backpacks were delivered and opened by a delighted group! ... See MoreSee Less

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