Africans administer the project, but one white American entrepreneur is on the scene: Last July, Benedict Schwartz, a Maryland software CEO, uprooted himself and his family and moved to the Village of Hope. Schwartz created an evangelical ministry that directs the project, All Kids Can Learn International (www.akcli.org). He is now recruiting others to build and adopt orphan cottages on the property, to take mission trips to the farm, and to pray for the children. For example, two teams from the U.S. had a Vacation Bible School for 400 children this past summer, and two Americans taught five Zambians to be welders.
Africa has lots of orphanages and agricultural development projects, but putting together the two is brilliant. A daily farm schedule helps to heal children who were child slaves, or took care of dying parents, or struggled to survive on their own in the African bush. Teen workers heal as well: Grace Mkazamwene, 18, explains that My parents died when I was young. I now feel that I have a future. I used to have a short, hot temper, but now things are different. I am more patient with everyone. I have learned love."
I've seen a variety of orphanages in Africa and elsewhere, and this model is the best. It could be replicated throughout sub-Saharan Africa. And it could be done without government money, which often hampers rather than helps. Schwartz's goal is one church, one cottage, including financial and prayer support. He would like to see a team from a supporting church take a mission trip every 12 to 18 months to visit the children and develop relationships with them. He challenges Americans who have already attained wealth: Don't think of what kind of home entertainment system or which set of golf clubs to buy. Think of lives that could be changed for the better."