Sunday, June 27, 2010

Help a Zambian child get off the streets and back into school

Every life matters.

In the summer of 2007, I had an extraordinary opportunity to do some work in Africa. I was part of a photography/journalism/film team and our assignment was to report on the AIDS crisis in Zambia. We spent two weeks meeting and interviewing aid workers, community leaders, pastors, teachers and government officials. We also spent a lot of time with orphans.

Many of these children-- part of some 1.5 million without parents-- find themselves in orphanages. These are the lucky ones. The others end up on the streets.

One night, our team visited a group of these street kids. It was like a chapter out of Dickens' Oliver Twist, but more harrowing. Little boys, between the ages of 6 and 12, huddled together around a makeshift fire, crackling embers and black smoke rising into the moonlit sky. These little souls, without mommies or daddies to tuck them in at night. They sang Christian hymns for comfort. They sniffed glue to keep warm. They were starving. High. Desperate.

I will never forget that night. It's burned in the recesses of my brain.

I told myself I could never return to America and not do something. Anything. When I got back home, I started raising money so some of these kids could get off the streets and back into school. Each year, we raise tuition for a kid named Chips. It costs $832. That's less than what you probably spend on all the venti chai lattes at Starbucks every year.

It's time to raise money again. And this time, I'm hoping we can send more kids to school. If everyone I'm friends with on my Facebook page donated $20 (that's 347 friends x $20), we could raise $6,940. That means eight kids off the streets and in the classroom.

Visit and help make a difference. And please, please pass the word!

*Thank you to Chad Lauterbach for the beautiful photos!