Rev David Howie – Volunteer in Mission, Uniting Church in Australia

To paraphrase Mother Theresa: “There is not only a poverty and hunger for food in the world, there is also a poverty and hunger for love.”

Mwandi is a village in Zambia which has been severely affected by the HIV/AIDS virus. Most affected is the generation between 25-45 years of age, who are the parents of the children involved in the Orphans and Vulnerable Children’s (OVC) project. Virtually all of the children at the Project have lost one or both parents from HIV/AIDS. This often means that they are growing up without the parenting, the love, care and support that is essential for the children to develop physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The OVC Project feeds over 200 children from Mwandi a meal 6 days a week. As impressive as this is, for me what makes OVC special is the Social Support and the way in which the Project has become a nurturing community – almost a second home for the children.

The Social Support provides clothing and sponsorship which enables children to attend school. The Project also offers HIV/AIDS education and Child Counselling. But it is the many people involved at OVC which gives it that sense of community, – and a place where the children want to be. It is the Coordinator and Manager, as well as the office staff; it is the team of Cooks in the kitchen and the wonderful women who serve the food to the children; it is the people who run the Bakery, the Project’s Garden and Storeroom; it is the many volunteers both locally and from overseas. All of these people come together to form a community of love, care and support for the children.

Personally I have done some small odd jobs, as well as led staff and children’s devotions. I’ve spent time with the children playing football (soccer) and volleyball, as well as being with them at lunch time. It is both challenging but also very fulfilling. I am proud to be a very small part of this rich community which seeks to address both the hunger for food, and the hunger for love that is there in the children.

Let me finish with another quote, the source of which is unknown. “I hope it will be said that we taught them to stand tall and proud, even in the face of history & the future was made whole for us all, one child at a time.”

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