In 2007, Gripps Farm was a desperately poor squatter community just outside of Lusaka, Zambia. The community water supply was a muddy water hole. Most residents lacked adequate housing and food. There were not sanitary toilet facilities and certainly no thoughts of electricity. The children were malnourished and worm-infested. The people had no rights to the land they were living on and there was no formal school. Most of the residents were subsistence farmers who grew crops which were irrigated by run-off from the nearby sewage treatment facility. But there were a few local people who were reaching out, walking daily to the school to teach a handful of children without any supplies or school building, writing in the dust with sticks.
And that’s when a group of friends from the United States visited and decided they wanted to help these “grassroots heroes” reach out to the community. GHI was formed to help support their efforts financially as well as emotionally and spiritually. Through the years, there have been many grassroots heroes who have participated in teaching children, teaching adults, providing skills training for jobs, constructing buildings, cooking for students, coaching soccer, meeting with the youth, providing personal support to individuals, providing maintenance services, serving on the PTA, and a whole host of other tasks to help keep the community running. It truly is a group effort, reminiscent of Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 12 regarding the importance of every part of the body.
Much of the focus has been on providing education for the children to help them escape the cycle of poverty and hopelessness. They have also benefited from health measures such as clean water, lunches provided at school, toilet facilities, regular access to medical care, and emotional and spiritual guidance. This has been provided through Mango Grove Community School which is in the Gripps Community as well as through scholarships allowing older students to attend secondary schools outside the immediate community.
The adults of the community have also benefited from access to educational opportunities and job training, improved health, acquisition of land rights, and improved economic circumstances. Gripps Farm is now a vibrant, hopeful place, a stark contrast to the dark hopelessness that pervaded the community in 2007. With your help, we hope to continue on that path to ever greater hope and opportunity.
Since 2007, the things we have done and are doing include:
-Drilled wells to provide clean drinking water
-Donating food to help feed poverty-stricken children and adults
-Providing clinical services with American volunteers including ophthalmologists, a dermatologist, pediatrician, and nurses
-Donated medications and eyeglasses
-Fund a monthly clinic run by a nearby community clinic
-Helped fund the building of new cinder block school buildings to replace old mud brick buildings
-Helped fund the building of latrines with running water
-Provide teacher stipends for several community schools
-Provide funds for special events for the school children and staff
-Fund sewing classes and gift of a treadle sewing machine to each graduate
-Fund a carpentry project for the men of the community
-Giving small business grants
-Provide emergency funding for unforeseen circumstances that arise such as funeral expenses
-Provide scholarships for secondary school students
-Support a youth group for the secondary students which focuses on bible study and developing life skills
-Provide adult education classes
-Donated and organized books to start a library
-Volunteered in the school to help the teachers
-Providing emotional, social, and spiritual support to the community
Through the years, the community has become more self-sufficient and has taken over funding more of these things themselves. The new school buildings are a great example of collaboration in which funding was provided by GHI, the community themselves, and some local entities in Lusaka. The goal is for the community to eventually no longer need our financial assistance.
We are now also involved in health, education, job training and building projects in several other communities in Zambia and also now help fund a sewing project in Johannesburg, South Africa which is helping refugees from neighboring countries develop skills to help them support their families.
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