Saturday, December 31, 2011

Traveling, London, and Arrival

Friends and Family,

We have safely arrived in Zambia! Our team has had a FULL but great few days. Here's a little recap to paint the picture for you...

We gathered at DFW and successfully checked close to 80 bags and trunks. It felt great to drop the bags off and then not see them until Zambia. Our flight was on time out of DFW and we boarded a huge British Airways plane. Eight hours later, we landed at Heathrow. Most of our team struggled with getting enough sleep on that flight, so landing in London was a relief! We passed through customs with ease (it's amazing how the crowds part when they see a large group coming). Next stop: the city! We all hopped the Tube for underground travel directly into the heart of London. I was so proud of our team--navigating the crowds and train changes with ease. We stayed together the entire time...pretty impressive!

I arranged a bike tour for the group through Fat Tire Bike Tours, a renowned company run by friendly Aggies. What could be better! Most of the group jumped on bikes for the afternoon, while a small group decided to kick around the city. The tour was a huge success! We were fearful that the cold weather and potential rain would be a problem, but all things considered, it wasn't bad. We had a few sprinkles and some chilly wind. However, it was well worth the effort as we all enjoyed a guided tour of London's highlights: Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, and Kensington Palace. It was a GREAT way to see the city!

The Lord really blessed each and every detail of the day...from the Tube to efficiency to returning to the airport. Everyone enjoyed a nice warm meal at Heathrow and tried desperately to stay awake!

Our flight to Lusaka was on time and we were all relieved (shockingly) to get on another plane with one goal in mind: SLEEP!! I'm proud to say that most of your weary travelers were able to get some shut-eye. I woke up to see the sun rising over Africa--pretty amazing!

Alissa and her wonderful team met us at the did each and every checked bag! Woohoo! It was impressive to watch the staff stack luggage into trucks, but they did it. We all rode in a large blue bus with Alissa. I must say, we turned a few heads as we drove through the city of Lusaka. Apparently a bus full of white people is a rare sighting!

Our accommodations will be perfect for the team. We are staying at a Baptist mission--a compound of sorts, settled behind a large stone wall with a friendly guard post. Boys are split up into several fully-furnished apartments with leaders. And the girls are enjoying a large apartment, big enough for all!

For the first time in days, we are all finally clean! A Zambian shower was the perfect way to begin our time here. In just a little bit, we will travel into city for lunch and some touring, followed by an early dinner and some much needed sleep in a BED!

I can't tell you how proud I am of our team. Robby and I remarked earlier that we feel like we are leading a trip of our little brothers and sisters. We LOVE your kids. What a gift to see Africa with them. Thank you for praying. We feel carried along, more than you know. Please pray for a restful night and some solid hours of sleep, as we all need it. For now, know that everyone is doing well and excited to be here. We will update as we go, so check back for more!

Our love and gratitude,

Arrived and Alive

Our PCPC group have arrived and are all doing great. Everyone has showered and rested up and we are off to see the city!

We will post more later!

- Alissa Hollimon

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Kershaws Challenge Creative Giving

We received quite possibly the cutest card from a kiddo that helped raise funds for Kershaw's Challenge:

Nine year old Rowan Moore, is a big Dodger fan, in fact her whole family is. Rowan decided to help us out for Kershaw's challenge and raise funds by having a snack stand at her brother's baseball games this past season. Rowan had some great success and sent us a very nice check!

Rowan, we thank you for your effort and keep it up! God Bless!

- The Arise Africa crew and Clayton and Ellen Kershaw

Monday, September 26, 2011

Calm Elections!

Last Thursday night Zambia time the election results were announced after over 48 hours of waiting. The winner was Michael Sata, and for the first time in Zambia's history a member of the Patriotic Front party has won.

Here is Sata getting sworn in:

We aren't really sure about what the dude next to him is wearing on his head but we will just ignore that!

We are beyond grateful for the way this election was handled. There was little rioting and violence. When Sata won, Banda stepped down from his office in a peaceful way and encouraged his supporters to do the same. We are so happy that Zambia was able to conduct themselves in a manner that is admirable.

We honestly are not sure of how Sata will lead Zambia. We are encouraged by his platform which says that stopping corruption will be a major part of his work. Sata also seems to understand that allowing foreign countries to come in to Zambia and own all the businesses and get all the governmental contracts makes Zambia a poorer country. Currently China runs all the major money making copper mines in the copperbelt region of Zambia. They treat their workers terribly and the Zambians working for them essentially are slaves to the mines. China also was able to get the contracts to fix the roads in Zambia which was through the government. They rarely hire Zambian workers and when they do, they do not pay them what is adequate. In fact, it is rumored that China gave the previous president Banda, over 50 million dollars to help him in his elections. That is ALOT of cash in Zambia folks! Sata has a vision for better education and more jobs for his country.

We ask you to continue to pray for this transition time. We also pray that Sata remains true to his word and that he can stand above bribes or anything else that might come to him. We pray Sata is able to help Zambia and not hurt them. We are hopeful!

On another note, Wangari Maathai, the first African woman recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, died after a long struggle with cancer. Maathai was an environmental activist that also faced and challenged many social issues within Kenya. To learn more about a very admirable woman please take a look at this video:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Election Day

Tomorrow morning when you wake up (Tuesday Morning) Zambia will be voting for their next president. This is a highly controversial election this time and many people dislike the current president, Banda. In fact it was controversial how he got into office the first time. They believe he will rig the elections for his favor. There are discussions about riots and other things that might happen if he wins. His opponent Sata is also a rather powerful man.



To give you an idea of how elections run in Zambia here is a photo of the ballots for the country being shipped in an open bed truck on the streets 10 days ago. If you can imagine there is alot of room for corruption.

We ask you to pray for peaceful elections and all of our staff and partners to be safe.

We also pray for the leadership in Zambia.


- Arise Africa

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sweet Andrew

This past visit to Zambia we became very concerned about one of our sponsored children, Andrew. Andrew is 12 years old and is HIV positive. He visits the clinic one a month and is on his medicine, (ARV’s ).

Andrew has always been a concern for us because of his illness. When Andrew entered in to our program he was malnourished and very lethargic. After aggressively feeding him for months, Andrew started to look better and actually be able to participate in school. I have never seen Andrew smile, and you can tell that life for him is about survival and nothing else. He doesn’t run around or play soccer or basketball. He has his head down in class because he is tired and run down. Here is a photo of Andrew in our container receiving food:

Andrew’s parents both passed away years ago. He lives with aunts and uncles in a tiny home with about 15 people. There is no food for Andrew at home and he comes to school dirty. He sleeps on a dirt floor and doesn’t have any help from guardians. We have worked hard to feed Andrew at school and give him soap and lotion. Brenda, who is in charge of Andrew through our child sponsorship program, sits patiently with him as he eats slower and needs more attention daily. We have treated skin rashes and worked hard to help this little guy. There are times that Andrew has tried to follow our staff home and he always is the last to leave school.

This past visit we noticed that although all that we had done, it wasn’t enough. Andrew is loosing this battle with HIV. He was extremely skinny again and slow to walk, slow to talk. There was very little life left in this child. We learned that Andrew has been having very bad stomach issues and cannot keep the food we are feeding him down. This is a sign that the virus is getting worse. It also is a sign that the medicine cannot work when the patient has no food in them. Brenda went to the clinic with Andrew and we received more devastating news, that his CD4 count was at 120. If a patient has a CD4 count less than 400 than the disease has moved from HIV to the AIDS virus. Anything under 200 is considered that the patient is very susceptible to any type of illness and ultimately death. We also learned that Andrew weights around 44 pounds, at 12 years old. This was crushing for us.

We realized that although we can try to feed, clothe, and take care of Andrew, we couldn’t in the conditions he is living in. How Andrew is cared for is out of our control when he walks out of the school’s gate everyday. We can’t monitor his medicine intake and if it is happening. We can’t keep him warm and clean at night. We can’t make sure he has food to eat for dinner with his medicine. And helping at school is not enough for him. It was a sobering realization to make. Our ability is limited and it wasn’t enough. Without a home to put Andrew in, we couldn’t help him.

After getting my act together and wiping the tears from my face, John and I talked and discussed with our Zambian team what to do. We approached a special home where catholic nuns take care of children in Andrew’s situation. They have a school, orphanage, and hospice center all in one compound. We asked them to take Andrew into their care. They were hesitant at first, given Andrew’s age, they like to take younger kids. After explaining how sick Andrew is, and telling them his weight, they agreed to take him for 6 months. This particular home is approached almost daily for kids to be allowed to stay with them; the demand by far outweighs the beds they have. We felt very blessed that Andrew was accepted.

Brenda and some of our other staff visited Andrew’s family to ask them if they could take Andrew to the special home. They agreed and were honestly relived. It was another body and mouth out of their home that they didn’t have to deal with.

A day or so later, our staff took Andrew to the home. We had him all packed up with his only belongings he has, clothes and a backpack we have given him. Brenda packed him soap and school supplies and a special kid’s Bible that she had been reading to him.

They arrived at the home and were met with wonderful people who were ready to help this kiddo. Andrew was overwhelmed when they showed him his very own bed and he whispered to Brenda that he had never slept in a real bed before. The other kids greeted him and gave them a tour of the home. There is a school that Andrew can attend if he feels well enough. We left Andrew and were told we could visit once a week and we would also be required to take him to the clinic once a month.

As I left Zambia it was the first time that I felt like I might not ever see one of our kids again. I thought about this on the plane with tears streaming down my face as John tried to comfort me and reassure me that we had done everything we can. Andrew is sick and has the odds against him. There is no doubt that he is in the best care possible. He is in a home where he is loved and cared for. He has food anytime he wants. He can truly be a kid, and not worry about the next meal or if he will be warm for the night. We can’t think of a better place for Andrew to be in this stage of his life. We are so thankful for this home and our partners in caring for Andrew.

Sometimes running a ministry is difficult because there is only so much you can do. And then you have to remember about your trust in God. It is a good lesson for us; we know that God is in control of this situation. We are called to do all we can do, but ultimately this is HIS child. We are beyond grateful for this home and for Andrew to have a chance at becoming healthy to where he can fight the disease and the medicine can work.

About a week ago we received an email in the USA titled “Breaking News.” When you run a ministry, this can be concerning to get an email from Africa saying this. Most breaking news is never good! But we were pleasantly surprised.

Bwalya informed us that he had just returned from visiting Andrew at one of our allowed visits. We learned that within two weeks Andrew was a changed child. His CD4 count was at 190 and he had gained 9 pounds. But most importantly Andrew’s smile is back! We received the following photo that made me cry, once again, luckily in my home and not in public.

We thank God for Andrew’s turn for the better. We thank Him for the home he is able to be at and the care he is receiving. We thank him for the smile on this child’s face, and we thank him for all the blessings he has shown us. We know that Andrew is HIS and we continue to pray for improvement.

Monday, July 25, 2011

NEw folks

The rest of our team safely arrived in Lusaka on Saturday. Stephanie and Avery’s flight arrived almost 2 hours late so there was alot of waiting around at the airport (pretty typical for Zambia). But we got everything together and made it back to Shakespeare Lodge minus one bag which was full of donations and not personal items thankfully. Caroline and Michael spent the morning securing nesting boxes for the new chicken “fortress” at Destiny. In Caroline’s words, “Who are the natural predators of chickens in the chicken fortress? Humans and ants. This is hard to plan for.” Hopefully, with the well built fortress the chickens will be secure and live a long life. Shortly after we went to check on the progress that John and Bwayla were making putting up a basketball goal for the kids. We really tried our best to scale it to regulation height, but the goal was Zambian crafted and looked quite a bit different from a regular basketball goal. To begin with, the backboard was made out of wood and the inner square on the backboard was quite a bit smaller. To top it all off, the net was red, white and blue. A very interesting mix of sorts. The kids will have alot of fun with that once we teach them how to play. We also made a trip out to see one of our sponsored kids and his family. We checked in to see how schooling was going with the children and how the family was managing. They were also provided with new clothes for school (which everyone was extremely excited about). Our visit was short because we were due to pick Callie and Kelly up from the airport. At the time of their arrival, 100% of the electricity at the airport was out (also not unusual for Lusaka where there are regular rolling blackouts). After collecting everyone we made it back to the Lodge to make pizzas and get some rest.

On Sunday morning we headed to church and had a great time. We all were happy that one of the speakers was out and the keyboard was not working! Sometimes it can be a bit loud and it was great to hear just voices. After church we headed to the market and bought souveiners. We finished Sunday off having dinner with the Zambian and American teams.

Today is a big day and we will blog later tonight!

The crew

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Arise Africa Engagement!

Yep you heard it, Caroline and Michael (our chicken farmers) are engaged! Michael popped the question while they were in Victoria Falls last week. Caroline has received many questions from kids this week about her ring! We offered for them to get married this Sunday at Peter’s church but they kindly declined only because their parents would be upset. Caroline has received many suggestions and ideas given from Zambian women who are experiences Zambian wedding planners. It has been quite educational to learn about Zambian ceremonies. Also Caroline has been asked if she will have 7 or 8 children. She’s thinking more like 10 (jk)

Alright folks we’re tired but all is going well!

- The Crew

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Turn right at the tomato stand…

Well it is 5am on July 20th and I am up thanks to jet lag. But I slept much more than I did two nights ago!

Yesterday July 19th was absolute chaos. After sleeping for only two hours last night (hello jet lag) John and Bwalya and I headed out yesterday morning with a large list of things to try to accomplish. We first met with and scouted out a new school to maybe work with. We got a tour and met the headmaster and John found a tiny kitten that he couldn’t put down. After taking iphone photos of john and his kitten we went to our next stop.

We went to exchange our car for another one because the brakes were acting quite funny and when we applied the brakes it sounded like a dying cat was in the trunk of the car. Seriously it was damaging to your ears! We got a new car, (Toyota Corolla) which is so much better except for the fact the passenger door is the only one that will unlock with your key. So the passenger has to get in first, then reach in and open everyone else’s doors. I will take it over the dying cat noise!

Then John, Bwalya and I headed out of town to check out an orphanage we had heard about. We are trying to gather as much information about orphanages right now as we plan to start one in the next year thanks to Kershaw’s challenge! We haven’t met our goal yet but are getting there and are beginning to plan. We began driving and chatting and then realized that the directions that had been given to us said to drive down one road for at while and turn right at the tomato stand. Well, let me tell you one thing about Africa, there is a tomato stand about every ten feet on the side of the road. As we were driving we realized we had a problem. There were so many possibilities as to where to turn right! We kept driving and all three of us arguing about if we were going too far and had a great discussion on the Zambian stock market (of course I am with John and Bwalya!). We finally stopped at some shops (think mud huts in the middle of nowhere) for us to buy some phone time so we could use Bwalya’s iphone to try to look it up on the internet. After failing to find it on the internet and two cokes and a Fanta later, we were defeated. We turned around and stopped by another orphanage on our way home that we had heard about out there while asking for directions! We toured this orphanage and saw the homes and asked many questions.

Then the three of us ate a quick lunch and met with a realtor to help us look for land for the orphanage. Given that buying land over here is as complicated as possible, we know we have to have professionals help! This particular realtor wasn’t very helpful but we realized we were at the top realty company where they sell the big properties that are a bit pricey than our orphanage budget. That is when she politely told us that we should look in the paper or go to another reality company to help with what we are looking for. So we left and went downtown to another realtors’ office. We chatted with them for a while. We are pretty sure they thought the three of us were crazy as we emphasized the importance of a CLEAR title and that we didn’t want property that we had to beg some chief for. We made a plan to meet the next day to go look at some properties.

Then we headed to another development that we had been recommended to where they are selling plots of land. We briefly stopped at Pizza In to order dinner since it was buy one get one free night. John went inside to order and came back outside telling us that we needed to pray for him because he had gotten so frustrated with the woman at the counter he had walked out, without ordering the pizzas. This was at the end of a LONG DAY. Bwalya and I listened to the story, wanting to laugh, but we emphasized with John and patted him on the back and then I took the money in and ordered our pizzas.

We met with the developers of the land and saw two possible plots that would work for us. It was very encouraging to see that the land was in a great place in the city, and close to two really good schools we could send our kids to. It also is land in our budget. By the end of our tour Bwalya was asking about plots for himself to build on! He was drooling over this land! We made fun of him for a while and then took off to go pick up the pizzas we had ordered.

We got home to meet Caroline and Michael who had been at Destiny school all day working on their chicken-farming project. Let me tell you, chicken farming is more intense than the three pet chickens my dad bought me at the feed store (after I begged, and begged, and pleaded) when I was 11 in Devine Texas. They had been in town all day with Isaac and the rest of our team buying wood and all sorts of supplies. They have all these fancy drawings that they have made themselves about the construction of this coop. It is impressive! They were as exhausted as we were. We all ate the pizza and I took some drugs and went to bed.

One thing that was so great about yesterday was that John, Bwalya, and I spent a lot of time in the car together, I mean like all day practically. Once we got a car without a dying cat noise, it was quite peaceful. But it was a GREAT time to catch up and discuss EVERYTHING we needed to. We covered so many important topics and the conversation was very effective. As the day ended and John and I walked over possible land we will buy, I couldn’t help but be blown away at God’s work. I looked at John and said, “Could you have ever imagined we would be looking at land to build an orphanage on?” “Not in a million years, it is so awesome!” was his response. We are constantly humbled by the generosity and support we have received as Arise Africa grows. And we only wish that all our supporters, (especially Kershaw’s challenge supporters!) could be here with us to see the impact it is having! I am sure you too are jealous that you didn’t get to ride in the back of a Toyota Corolla for hours looking for the token tomato stand to turn right at!

Off to another day!

- Alissa

Monday, July 18, 2011

on the ground and rolling

I arrived in Lusaka today and met the rest of our Americans who have been here for a few days.

John, Megan, Bwalya, and I wasted no time heading to the coffee shop and organizing all our calendars together for the next few weeks. It was complete chaos as we tried to coordinate so much we need to do. It was rather entertaining as I only had about two hours of sleep.

We all then split and headed to our respected places and started working on our lists! John and Bwalya and I headed to buy a basketball rim for a hoop that we are having welded for one of our community schools. (they don't make basketball hoops you can buy in Zambia, so you have to get one made) After John and I somehow managed to buy an $80 basketball only to have to return it, we headed to Destiny school where our other Americans, Caroline and Michael were already there and meeting with folks and working on their chicken farming project.

We hung out at destiny for a long time today and we got to see all our sponsored kids and other friends we have there. We left with Caroline and Michael feeling like they have a good plan for the next day.

We had a great steak dinner at an awesome restaurant and then headed to bed.

Big day tomorrow folks!

- The crew!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Buseco Market Fire

Yesterday we learned that the local market in the area of one of our community schools had caught on fire. We had many kids that lived in the market, in their "homes" made of sticks and plastic tarps. This market is also where a lot of wood is cut and straw is sold. It was very concerning for us and our Zambian team spent alot of time finding our kids and trying to help. They immediately went to the market when they found out and started checking on and gathering our kids.

This afternoon we learned that only two of our children were effected and they are physically OK. Goodson and Frank, are two of our sponsored kids and were inside their home when the homes caught on fire. Considering their house is made of plastic and timber, it quickly caught on fire and spread. The boys were able to escape but were concerned that their younger sister did not. she was found and unharmed by one of our staff. Their mother left for the northern provence about 4 or 5 months ago and has never returned. They were living by themselves.

Both boys had received clothes and new shoes from us in May in a effort to prepare them for winter (which is happening right now). The items were lost in the fire and they were very upset by this. Our staff did a great job of taking them to school and resupplying them with clothes, school supplies, and other items.

Photo from May

As of now, the boys are sleeping at the school and we are unsure of the future and where they will live. Please pray for these sweet kids and Arise Africa as well as we try to help them.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Marriage Proposals

Today was a great day. I woke up this morning and headed out quickly to meet our Zambian team member Isaac. Isaac was with me the entire day and we accomplished ALOT! Our first stop was at Greenhill School, where we built them classrooms back in January. We had forgotten to tell them I was coming so it was a major surprise! It was awesome to see everyone and kids were learning in the classrooms. They have so much more space and classes aren't having to share rooms. Their high school kids are using the new classrooms, and they were very grateful. We had given them quite a few classroom decorations and school supplies and I was happy to see them being used. I think we might need to give a few pointers on how to decorate classrooms but they are definetely enthuiastic!

This particular classroom really enjoyed the construction paper we gave them:

We stayed at Greenhill for a while, and did some video and hung out with the kids.

Then Isaac and I started our errand running and we were on the move. We went into town which is always an adventure in itself. People are everywhere trying to sell you pirated DVDs to belts and even cell phone chargers on the street corners. Parking is a nightmare so people will fight for parking spots for you and in return you must pay them. This is always entertaining to me and luckily Isaac did a great job making sure we weren't ripped off. We found a pretty good parking spot and started our shopping.

We first went and bought school books for our sponsored children. After that we had a list of things that our Zambian team had asked us for which we of course forgot. so we had to keep calling Brenda and Susan which I am sure they were thrilled at! We bought them some more cooking pots and plates for our feeding program for our sposored kids. This meant going to the plastics store. They have a whole store that only sells every type of plastic available. From plastic chairs to forks, you buy it here.

As Isaac was paying for the plastics I walked outside to find a man selling giant wooden spoons that you use for stirring Enshima here. The girls had asked us to buy some so I began to ask him how much and then start the bartering process. I thought I was doing pretty good on the spoons and was about to pay when Isaac came out and asked how much he was charging me. He then proceeded to tell the man just because I was white I would not be getting ripped off and we paid about one fourth of what I had him at. That is when I was politely told to not buy a single thing anymore because my skin color was a disadvantage. I took that advice and kept my mouth shut the rest of the day when it came to price negogiating!

Our next stop was to buy some large pots for cooking and knives. We got some great knives but the pots were very expensive and I think I can get better prices in the USA and they can be brought over so we will wait on that. Isaac and I then made our last stop to buy washing soap for clothes. As we were walking to the car I was stopped by a stumbling drunk and dirty man who asked if I would marry him. I am sure my father is devestated but I declined.

We fought the traffic and left town and headed to one of our community schools where we met Brenda and Susan and unloaded our gear. We did some video at this school and followed up on a loan we had given them a few months ago. They purchased some industrial sewing machines and now make clothes which they sell and use the funds for their school. It is going remarkably well and seeing 6 women who now have jobs was really inspiring.

The last part of our day we went back to the local market where many of our sponsored kids live in tarp homes. We visited a few of their homes and gave out more clothes for winter and visited with parents and grandparents. We shot some video and hung out.

As weird as it sounds, it was really cool to be in the market at the end of the day. The sun was going down and I looked around and realized how lucky we are to be loved so much. As we went from house to house and were able to distribute food and clothes to grateful parents and children, I was overwhelmed at how blessed we are. I was honored to be there with our great Zambian team and was proud of them. They knew all the parents and kids and their siblings. They were loved in this community and it was evident. And I stood out like a sore thumb and was loved just as much. Well maybe not by the small babies who were scared of me because they had never seen a white person.

While in the city market I was asked by another stumbling, drunk and dirty man if I would marry him. Once again I declined.

It was a perfect way to end the day! (not the proposal, but visiting folks in the city market)

Back in Zambia

Well it's been a long time since we have blogged, and life has been crazy!

I arrived in Zambia a few days ago and have been checking in on our programs and kids and Zambian team. It has been great.

Yesterday I visited one of our partnering community schools where we have our child sponsorship program. Our American team had come in January and held a kids camp at the school and when I arrived I was attacked by kids hugging and asking me where everyone else was. They were definitely disappointed when I told them I was the only American to come!

Our child sponsorship program has grown since I was last here which has been a major blessing. Two of our staff members are at this school daily and help watch the kids, do Bible classes, help tutor, and feed them. They have done an amazing job at feeding them and watching the kids receive a great meal was really special. I can honestly say you see God's love for these kids. If you are a child sponsor we can't thank you enough.

We unloaded suitcases of childrens clothing I brought over because winter will be here in a few weeks in Zambia. A few of our bigger kids had not received any new clothing in a while because we didn't have their sizes or they were new to the sponsorship program. One child, Isaac, is new to our program and is one of our worse off. We got Isaac some clothes and visited his home after school.

Isaac lives with his father and his mother passed away about a year ago. They live in the local market where homes are made of tarps, cardboard, and a few wood posts. The homes are stacked on top of one another and you walk through a maze of people to get to where he lives. When we arrived Isaac's father was sitting outside his home of tarps making straw brooms, which he sells for about 20 cents each. There was a small fire going outside the home and we all sat on the dirt and began to chat. Isaac has a good father, who loves him and cares for his kids, the best he can. Our Zambian team had visited their home a few times and the father was beyond grateful for our help when we told him we would be covering Isaac's school fees for the term. Isaac's dad spoke English well and you could tell he was a strong man. He had a torn shirt on and thanked me for our help. Isaac had been to school with a dirty uniform the past few weeks so we had bought some soap for them. We also had bought a big bag of Mealie Meal, which is what they use to make their staple food Enshima. I joked with he father about how I have never met a Zambian who turned down Enshima. Isaac's brothers and sisters ran around as we all chatted and we drew a bit of a crowd with the white girl being in the middle of the slum. It is a rare occasion to see a white person in that area. As I sat and got to hang out I was so grateful that our team have cultivated these relationships with parents and kids that I get to come and be a tiny part of that too.

We also gave their family some clothes for the winter. I was lucky to bring over some great fleeces and coats that had been donated and Isaac also received a new pair of shoes, soccer cleats none the less but he LOVES them.

We were careful to bring clothes for his siblings.

As we handed over the clothes I couldn't help but notice the stark white t-shirts and the contrast of the dirty home and area they lived in. Although everyone has their homes as clean as possible, it is difficult when you have a dirt floor and barley any shelter. I was encouraged to know that Isaac will have a great fleece this winter that will keep him warm, because the "walls" of his home will offer little protection.

It is easy to get discouraged when you are in a place like the market visiting kids and people you love that live in plastic homes. But it also is extremely motivating and rewarding to offer aid and help and see the difference it makes in kids lives.

If you look at how Issac and his family were helped, it took a group of us. It took his American sponsor who monthly gives to support him, other Americans who donated kids clothes and shoes, and our Zambian team who commits themselves to knowing these children and families and loving on them daily.

We thank you for all your partnerships because that is the reason Isaac is helped!

- Alissa Hollimon

Monday, April 4, 2011

Unique Giving

Our Kershaw's Challenge Campaign is doing great and Clayton pitched 9 strike outs on opening day for a Dodgers win! We currently have about $1,500 raised and are excited about the future possibilities.

We wanted to highlight the first "Unique Gift" donation we have received from Benji Tackett. Benji made a donation in his parent's name in honor of their wedding anniversary!

Then we learned that his parents, Gene and Wendy, have done overseas missions with the Peace Corps and other organizations. They have worked in Kenya and India.

And of course they have been long time Dodger fans!

Gene and Wendy, we congratulate you on your wedding anniversary and thank you for your support in Kershaw's Challenge!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Play Ball (and please throw alot of Strikes!)

Arise Africa is excited to announce our new campaign called Kershaw's Challenge.

We have been blessed to partner with Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw in an effort to raise funds to build an orphanage. For every strikeout Clayton throws this season, he and his wife Ellen are donating $100 to "Kershaw's Challenge." Help us start this campaign and cheer on the Dodgers this season!!

Please take a look at Kershaw's Challenge and cheer on the Dodgers whose season opens in an hour!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Charity of the month!

Today we received a phone call from, Sa Services, based in Houston Texas that told us that we had been chosen as charity of the month for their company!

We received a $1,200 donation as well as some publicity on their website!

Words cannot express our gratitude and thankfulness for our business partners.

And if you are ever in the need of a marketer of bulk commodities or shipment of some sulfuric acid, these are the folks to use!

We just can't wait until they start doing shipping to Africa! Because we got some "goods" in our garage that need to get over there! (and don't worry it isn't acid)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

In the big leagues...

Make sure to pick up a New York Times today (Sunday February 27th) and look in the sports section at Clayton Kershaw's article about going on the mission trip with us!

Or Click HERE to see online!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Shine Bright firefly, Shine Bright!

This past January on our mission trip we were able to dedicate the three classrooms built at Greenhill School to various individuals/companies. We choose people or groups that stood for education, God's love, and service.

One of the classrooms was dedicated to our dear friend Sarah Chidgey Hughes. When we dedicated the classroom we spoke of Sarah's love for teaching elementary school in Houston Texas, and how great of a teacher she was, and how much she loved her kids and everyone. We also spoke about Sarah's spirit and how even at the darkest of times, she taught us to look to God.

Sarah had been fighting cancer when we dedicated the classroom in her honor in January, and this morning that fight ended and Sarah's pain is over. We are terribly saddened by Sarah's death, but we know there is a special angel watching over Greenhill School.

You can read more about Sarah's journey here:

We thank you Sarah for ALL the lessons learned through you teaching and may God watch over your husband, family, and friends. You are already greatly missed!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Names with Faces

It is one thing to send money to needy children in other parts of the world, but it is a whole other thing to actually see their faces, be in their situation, hear them speak, and hug their little bodies. You see it on TV and hear stories of the poverty in Africa, but nothing can prepare your heart to know them and then to see the homes they live in, the food they eat (or don't), and watch their tiny feet chase your bus as you drive half a world away from them. When stories connect with the heart of a person, change happens. This is true in any endeavor in life. Every person has hardship behind a smile, insecurities beneath their flesh, and a story behind walls. Once you get to know these parts of them, it makes sense as to why they are who they are.

We saw the faces of Charles and Shella for the first time on pictures when the first list of Arise Africa sponsorships became available last September. We then continued to build relationships with them through letters! Reading their stories and now knowing their daily realities has changed our life more than any amount of financial support could change theirs. We had the greatest privilege of seeing their faces in person in January on the first Arise Africa mission trip. We quickly sought them out to build relationships and love on them as much as possible for the limited time we were in Lusaka. Shella is a nine year old girl with a smile that will light up the world and warm your heart in one instant. Her tender and grateful spirit radiates and makes you want to lean down and watch her every move. She loves to dance and is not intimidated by any situation or person. Charles is a five year old boy that sees life as one adventure after another. He immediately saw my husband as his personal jungle gym. His house is only one block from Destiny school but he somehow manages to get lost on the way to school from time to time. We always wonder what exciting adventures he finds to explore on the way to school.

During the last part of the trip, we were able to see these children interact in their home life. As we were entering their homes, it was profound to think that this is their HOME: where they were born, where they sleep, where they interact with their family. The conditions were small and rough even by the standards of the Dallas projects. No electricity, no running water, more than five people in one tiny room, flies all around. The more time we spent getting to know these families, the more we realized that this world is not our HOME. HOME for the Sayles is not our comfortable, warm, clean house in Dallas, Texas. Charles and Shella's HOME is not the slums of Lusaka, Zambia. Because of their faith in Christ (and boy was that faith evident), their eternal HOME is with our Savior in Heaven! In hard situations, we as Americans are so quick to want to change the circumstances. We are so quick to find answers to our problems, NOW! Wow, the gift of a simple life is much! Arise Africa has given us the incredible opportunity to help these children have food, education, and discipleship in their faith.

One thing that we realized in being there is that the monetary need is great but nothing can change the situation except for the love of God and love from the community of believers. It has become quite evident to us how the greatest commandment to "love the Lord your God with all you heart soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself" can change people, communities, and the world from the inside out. No words can express the joy of watching the Zambian Arise Africa staff, school teachers, church pastors, and the community of believers come alongside these vulnerable, orphan children. We can try our hardest to relate to Charles and Shella but at the end of the day, I really don't know what its like to go days without food, weeks without showers, months without medical attention, and years without the love of an earthly mother and father. It is a delight to know that these older Zambian mentors have been there and walked their path. It is also comforting to know our Heavenly Father cares perfectly for each of these children, as he does for us.

In our minds, relational ministry is so crucial in the lives of Charles and Shella and these other children. The Arise Africa staff members work hard to make sure these kids are getting their daily nutrition, medical attention, and education, but they take it to the next level to know their hearts. This includes both the emotional and spiritual needs of these children. They want to know not just if they are eating but how they are doing, what they fear, how they hurt, and what they need both physically and spiritually! This is the great commission!

We thought we knew what it was like to love, walk with Christ, pray, and give. These things become such a duty, at times, and can feel mundane. They grow stale and the Christian walk mediocre. Before you know it, gratitude is nowhere to be found in your heart. You find yourself feeling that you deserve happiness, a nice meal and comfort. Seeing this place changes it all. Suddenly, your list of thankfulness to God cannot be stopped! Gratitude overwhelms your heart, and the stale cracker of your faith becomes as salty as the oceans! We are just grateful to get to be a part of what God's doing through Arise Africa!

With much Joy,

Rob and Kim Sayles

Note: If you are interested in sponsoring a child through Arise Africa please email to get a list of current kiddos needing help.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

It all Started in the back of this minibus...

I've been asked many times how Arise Africa started. And the story is a bit unconventional, which shouldn't surprise you if you know us!

In 2009 I was in Sudan and Uganda doing a photo shoot for the United Nations and after the shoot, I decided to go back to Zambia and see my old friends. I wanted to check in on kids and families that I had worked with the previous year on a photography project. I had asked an old friend, Bwalya, to take off work to help me locate the folks and work with me for the week. Bwalya and I hadn't talked much in the previous year and we can only say that God really brought us back together.

We hired Joe, the driver of this minibus to drive us and we spent the week visiting homes and playing with kids and talking to parents about their year. They were grateful to see me and know that I hadn't forgotten about them. They kept saying that to me, that they thought I would never come back or help again. And it really resonated with me. Bwalya was a natural with the kids and parents and his love for his country was really inspiring.

After each visit we would get in the minibus and Bwalya would begin to talk about how we could help those families get out of poverty for good, through his business ideas and educating the kids. And they were legit! He was throwing out business terms and numbers that I was impressed with. (not that I knew exactly what they meant, but I knew he did)

One evening we went to the US Embassy in Zambia to see my American friend, Jordan, who was working there at the time. We had spent the day in some pretty tough slums and had seen kids who weren't doing very well. As we pulled out from the embassy (Bwalya was frustrated he wasn't allowed inside the embassy gates since he isn't a U.S. citizen!) and we sat in the back of the minibus while we drove down a dusty dirt road it just happened. It was almost too perfect, the sun was setting and it was so pretty. And we started talking...(note: when you hear this you know something big is gonna happen in Arise)

We dreamed of being able to help the people long term whom we had been visiting. Bwalya threw out a few ideas of businesses he would like to open which the profits made could help fund the non profit. I talked about wanting to help with education in schools and work in the slums. We could feel God in that bus, and we were excited! We somewhat decided then and there to both go our ways and try to make something happen.

I returned to America in September of 2009 thinking about what I could do. I read alot of books about non profits and ministries and what worked and what didn't. I researched and took from my own experiences from working with various Non Profits. And I prayed, alot. And I kept feeling like God wanted us to do something.

In November I received a phone call from an old friend, John, who I had known in Zambia years earlier. He lived in Austin and said he had heard that I was still doing some work in Zambia and was interested. We talked about the trip I had just taken and Bwalya's ambitions and our dreams. By the end of our conversation John was encouraging me and helped me take the next steps to form a non profit.

We came up with the name Arise Africa from Isaiah 60:1-9 which reads, "Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look around; they all gather together, they come to you; your sons shall come from far away, and your daughters shall be carried on their nurses’ arms. Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord. All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you; they shall be acceptable on my altar, and I will glorify my glorious house. Who are these that fly like a cloud, and like doves to their windows?

For the coastlands shall wait for me, the ships of Tarshish first, to bring your children from far away, their silver and gold with them, for the name of the Lord your God, and for the Holy One of Israel, because he has glorified you."

We then started the process of filing for a 501C3 in America. Which by the way is extremely daunting! I kinda feel like if you can achieve 501C3 status than you are ready for anything! Luckily we had a great attorney help us, and a cousin of mine who helped fill out alot of the forms to save us money. We filed in late March and were told that it would take 6 to 9 months to hear back from the IRS.

On April 20th 2010 I received a phone call from our attorney informing me we had received 501C3 status! It was the fastest he or anyone had ever seen. And we were pumped!

It hasn't even been a year since we received that 501C3 status. And so much has happened!

Take a look at some of our highlights:

We have a child sponsorship program where 21 kids receive clothes, school fees paid for, discipleship, medical attention and even food.

We had our first mission trip where 15 Americans came and built an entire additional wing on a school. The school now has three more classrooms and an office, providing a better education for 160 kids.

We also held a kids Vacation bible School for 170 orphan and vulnerable children and taught them about God's unconditional love. We fed them three meals and played many soccer games!

We delivered over 2000 pounds of school supplies and computers.

We have started a growing program and provided funds for a school to grow corn to feed their 500 kids that attend.

We have one of our Zambian staff members in college.

We have purchased land and are working on multiple business investments.

The coolest part of Arise Africa is seeing everyone involved. It takes MANY people to support us through sponsoring a child, giving to the school supply fund, going on a trip, and even praying for us. Watching people become involved and support us has been the biggest blessing for me.

We have learned alot this first year and have seen God's hand in all of it. We are learning how to grow well. We are learning what it means to take care of one another. And we are learning about patience (this one kills me!).

As 2010 wraps up we can't help but thank God for everyone's support and encouragement throughout this year. Who knows where Arise Africa will be in a few years. But if it is anything like this one, it will surely be quite a trip with alot of blessings.

God Bless!

- Alissa, John, and Bwalya

Monday, January 17, 2011

Goodbyes and Arrivals

So the blog ended abruptly and we apologize for that! We lost internet the last few days at our lodge and then we were gone!

The last day of camp was amazing and saying goodbye to our kiddos was no easy task. There were lots of tears and sad goodbyes for both Americans and Zambian kids. The kids received a book bag and a pencil which were huge hits! Super thanks to Texas Wildlife Association for the bags!

We had a great team dinner Friday night at the local Mexican food restaurant in Lusaka. Don’t worry it is run by a friend from Texas so it is legit! Our Zambians had never experienced Mexican Food and they were very surprised. We had some issues with it being too spicy for our Zambian team and many glasses of ice water were consumed. But all in all they liked it, or at least acted like they did!

Some of our Americans left Saturday and other did a Victoria Falls trip and headed out Monday for the states.

We have been home for about a week now and miss Zambia a lot. I think everyone is struggling with re entry into the States and fully processing what they just experienced. But it is good struggles to be having, and God is working in everyone in different ways.

This trip went AMAZINGLY well. And I have to give credit to God foremost and then all the amazing people who participated on both continents to make this happen.

We were able to build three classrooms and an office that will help 156 kids receive an education.

We held a Vacation Bible School to 170 kids and taught them about God’s unconditional love, AIDS, and many other important topics.

We delivered about 2000 pounds worth of school supplies and clothes to two community schools.

We fed about 650 healthy meals to children and adults who were hungry.

God is working in Arise Africa, and we are blessed to be a part of it. Without your help and donations none of this would have happened!

THANK YOU for your support!!

- Alissa Hollimon

Thursday, January 6, 2011


There is nothing like the feeling of driving into Destiny School our first morning and being welcomed by 170 ecstatic Zambian children singing God’s praises. Each member of the team was paired up with a Zambian partner, either from our Arise staff, or a teacher from the school. Later on, we were each given 10 children to spend the next three days with. In these three days, we are focusing on unconditional love, knowing what a rare experience it is for these kids. We are instilling that the Lord loves them no matter who they are, no matter what circumstances they face, and no matter what they do. Our hope is for each of these kids to leave with these truths by the end of the week!

One of the more interesting moments of the day:
Sharing with 170 kids their first experience with Peanut butter and Jelly and a local Zambian “Super Shake”!!
Unlike many American kids, they will eat whatever is put in front of them, although not always to their liking; in need to fill their empty stomachs. Because their bodies often receive only one meal per day, our provided lunch of a PBJ gives them protein, and the super shake loads with vitamins and nutrients to give them energy. Let’s just say they preferred the Super Shake!

Just as we did at Greenhill, through donated items and the work of our team, we were able to better equip Destiny school with the tools to give each of their students a better education. The teachers sang to God in praise as they looked through the items, and we are exited about getting to organize and prepare them for the opening of the new school year! They are continuously amazed by all the fancy creations the United States has come up with for teaching!

Most of these children have never experienced the love we get to feel on a daily basis. We were quick to realize the impact a simple hug could have on the lives of these kids. Grasping at our arms and holding tightly to each of us, looking down at these smiling faces brings tears to your eyes. We are teaching these kids unconditional love, and yet they love us unconditionally. No matter who we are, no matter what circumstances we face, and no matter what we do.