Located in the center of southern Africa, Zambia is among the nations most affected by AIDS. Nearly 20% of Zambia’s four million children are now orphans, mostly as a result of AIDS. Without outside support, many of these children would not be able to attend school. Although school tuition is now free through 6th grade, each child must purchase uniforms and supplies that total $125 per year, in a country having a per-capita income of $300.
By providing that support, First Parish in Lexington has made school attendance possible for many children. Since 2001, First Parish has worked with other area churches through the Communities Without Borders (CWB) program to sponsor vulnerable children in Lusaka’s “shantytown” compounds. This program allows children to get a few meals a week, and to pay for their schooling and their school clothes and shoes. A contribution of $100 per year will give a child a chance for a decent education. Fundraising for this program is typically done in the spring but a donation can be made at any time to CWB.
In 2005 four members of First Parish in Lexington made a service trip to Zambia to see the conditions first hand and establish personal connections with our partner communities in Lusaka. Since then there have been trips by many parishioners and this year one person will be going. Opportunities exist for both youth and adults to participate in this important work on a personal level. Through our partnership, we bring our corner of the world, and the village of Lusaka, closer while dramatically improving life for some of Zambia’s most at-risk children.
In recognition of First Parish in Lexington’s work in the Communities Without Borders program, the Unitarian Universalist Association presented our congregation with the first Red Ribbon Award (2006) for our efforts in the field of AIDS awareness and education.
Contact: Amy Breiting, Margie Gibbons