Love, Hope, and Swaziland by Flipper Kao

I have travelled to Swaziland twice from Taiwan.  As I left Lugogo Sun in July of 2010, my first trip to Africa, I decided to go back as soon as possible, because I had been literally connected with this country. I want to share some of my experiences in Africa, especially the people I met, which is the most precious part in my memories. The following stories are mainly based on my trip in 2011.

Mark Haflinger, a strong man with tenderness from New Mexico, whom I met on 2010’s trip, was the guy sitting next to me on the bus to Lugogo Sun from O.R. Tambo Airport. Though we have known each other for a year, we still started our conversation with talking about our family. We had great time chatting. After a while, I ask a question to Mark, “Why did you decide to come back here?” Mark gave me a straight answer, “’Cause God sent me here. He asked me to come, how did I dare to say no?” The answer shocked me. I decided to go back to Swaziland because I made a promise (sorry Janine I know you don’t like for us to say promises we can’t keep) to the locals that I will come back. I love the land, the church, the pastor, and all of the people in the church “Jesus is the answer”, it seems reasonable for me to go back to serve again. But Mark’s answer reminded me the originality of volunteering: because God sends us to do, and we should praise for every chance HE give us to serve others. That’s also the same thing I learned from Derek Edwards, team leader of my team for both years. My first thought to him is a very devout guy, which was proven to be truth. While farming the crops in the village, he always said “Thank you Jesus” every time he stroke the land with the hoe. He must be the strongest person I have ever met, and also the most humble one. He is humble to everyone as well as to the Lord. He spent all of his energy to serve every day, making him exhausted every evening. He is my best model of serving as the servant of the God. I do learn many lessons from him.

Let’s talk about the locals I met in Swaziland. Senzo Sukati, my best friend in Dondon village, is 12 years elder than me. He is really an amazing guy who taught me a lot about the country. On the first day I knew him, he introduced the school system in Swaziland to me. I asked a naïve question, “How come your children don’t go to the college?” “Some of them haven’t been to high school yet.” he replied, “Most of them have lost one or both of their parents, and the family often have at least 5 children to raise. How can they make enough money for the tuition to the college? Even if they can, no one’s going to pay for the family living since the tuition fee is all they have.” His answer reminded me the fact of this country: 42% HIV positive and an average age of 29. That was the first thing I learned from a real Swazi, desperation. However, he and all the villagers showed me the enthusiasm and hope of the church very soon by their breath-taking singing. The voice penetrated into my heart, almost making me cry. I was completely touched by these people. They have nothing, but they praise Him. They have appreciation. That’s the most valuable thing I was able to take back from Africa: appreciation. In later days, he helped us finish the gate of the garden by collecting some old nails from the abandoned wood. He also taught me many SiSwati words and even phrases. By the last day we were there, realizing we were about to go, Senzo held my hands sincerely and said, ”What you guys do for us is really a good thing, which all of us appreciate a lot. But when you go back to your city, your area or your country, you guys should do the same good things.” This statement astonished me. You can try to imagine these words spoken out through the mouth of a person who has nothing. Oh no, just like Mark and Derek, Senzo is totally full of faith. This is also one of the important lessons I had in Swaziland.

On the preparation day for Litsembe 2011, our team was asked to collect the trash beside the path. My lovely grandma, Karen Ward, asked me a question “I heard you say after coming to Africa your life was totally changed. How has it changed?” At the moment I didn’t give her a good answer, because I haven’t summarized all the ideas in my mind. Now I CAN tell you a clear answer, Miss Karen. My life was totally changed because I know how to trust in God, how to  be humble and how to praise HIM. These are life-time lessons I will never forget.

Last but not least, I want to express my thanks. Thanks to every volunteer in Africa. Thank you Janine for bring all of us there. Thank you Seth for giving me a big hug to let me know you still remember our friendship. Thank you Karen, Sarah, Keely, and James, you bring lots of fun to our team while serving at the church. I am sure you’re fit for a pink beanie Miss Karen. Thank you Greg, the coins you gave to the 7 young lions not only give them hope of new life, but also give me the courage to say goodbye to them with a smile but tears. Thank you Spencer, you always greet me so enthusiastically. Thank you Michael, Matt, Uncle Tom, Randy and Corey, knowing you guys enriched my lives in Swaziland. Thank you James Liao, I wouldn’t have had the chance to go to Swaziland without your efforts. Thank you every Taiwanese people, all of you made me feel at home every night when we held our meeting outside. Also thank you Amber for inviting me to write this article. And most importantly, THANK YOU MY LORD.

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Volunteering in Swaziland Changhua Senior High Students Develop New Perspective of Life

Lewis Lu, Director of Library of National Changhua Senior High school, Taiwan, emphasizes the special ideal,“ Finish reading by taking action.” For four consecutive years, lead students Changhua Senior High to volunteer in Swaziland.

Students are inspired and changed by the trip. Raymond Lin(left), who hoped for a long time to be an architect when graduated from high school, changed his mind after the trip to become a doctor and was admitted to Medicine department of National Yang-Ming University Taiwn last week. Patrick Hun (middle), who was admitted to Medicine department of National Defense University, gave up to be a doctor, but decided to attend Materials Science and Engineering Department of National Taiwan University which he is also admitted to, for the reason that he wanted to earn more money to help those poor African children, like the American richman who donates big sum of momey to the Heart for Africa to launch Canaan Project.

Raymond Lin wishes to be one of Médecins Sans Frontières

Begins from 2008, Lewis raises fund for 20 students to volunteer in Swaziland every summer.Most of the students have the chance first time to take airplane and fly to Africa and it has changed their view of the world and their future life. The volunteer project was sponsored by Stan Shih, Acer founder, Jheng Ya Ren, president of FSP Group, and Patrick Sun president of Taiwan ballerina Company. There were 20 students participating in this activity in 2009, they volunteered in the local orphanage. The trip strongly influenced their decisions when they were applying for the universities.

“I can hardly imagine that there’s a place full of poverty, diseases and hunger. If I could save them from poverty and diseases, it will definitely be the most meaningful thing in my life.” Raymond Lin said. To design beautiful house has always been his dream; however, after the volunteering experience in Swaziland, he made up his mind to be a doctor and to devote himself to helping the poor.

Patrick Hung Choose to be an Entrepreneur to Help People

Studying medicine has always been Patrick Hung and his parents’ dream. And he was both admitted to Medicine Department of National Defense Medical University and Material Science and Engineering Department of National Taiwan University, two top universities in Taiwan. But he decided to study Material Department and persuaded his parents to agree with it. “I hope to be an entrepreneur in the future so I will make lots of money and have enough funds to continue changing the environment in Africa.” he said.

Originally, Joe Chen(right) didn’t have any idea about medicine. However, after the mission trip to Swaziland, he decided to be a doctor so that he could help African people who are lack of medical resource. Joe Chen got excellent grade in College Entrance Examination, and he was admitted to Dentistry Department of Kaohsiung Medical University.

Director Library of Changhua Senior High School, Lewis Lu appreciates those entrepreneurs with ideal. Because of their generosity, they sponsor the senior high students to walk out of their comfort Zone, and develop the valuable concept of helping the need.

From the Liberty Times on May 5, 2011.

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How One Teenager Can Change the World By: Riley Ferguson

My name is Riley Ferguson.  I live in Cape Girardeau Missouri and I am sophomore at Cape Central High School. In July 2010, I traveled with my parents and a team from Cape to Swaziland, Africa to serve. I have a true love for children, so I knew that going to Africa would be something that I would enjoy.  I had heard so many stories about how many children are orphaned and left alone. But I never realized the need until I arrived that first day at the local church where we were serving.  The first day we got to our church we learned that a 10 year old girl had just died of HIV/AIDS.  We met her grandmother and went into the hut that the little girl had lived in with her grandmother.  Each day we returned to serve at our church more children came.  The first day we only had a few, the second day we had more and by the third day we had over 200 children there to see us.  I got to teach games to the children and give out clothing that we had brought from home.  Each child was so grateful for each item we gave them. They didn’t fight or argue over what each had and they were so proud of their new belongings.

Because of my service in Swaziland, I was nominated to attend the International Teens Change the World Conference in Taiwan this past December.  There were teens from South Korea, Japan, and Swaziland there.  Each teen had to give a speech talking about what they do to change the world; I spoke about my time in Swaziland.  It was really cool to see what other teens from all around the world are doing to change the world.  I was able to meet many of the students and teachers from the other countries.  It is so cool to have friends from around the world.  The conference was held at an all boy’s high school so one day we got to go in to a couple classes.  School there is so different. There school hours are a lot longer than ours and schooling is very strict. I stayed with a host family whose son goes to the high school where the conference was at.  Each day they made us traditional meals the food was different but good and I got to learn how to use chopsticks! Our host family was so welcoming and even though they didn’t speak English well we knew felt so welcomed, our host mom even cried when we left.

I never would have thought when I went to Swaziland in July that I would end up in Taiwan in December. But God has great plans for us all, even a 16 year old from Missouri.  These experiences have taught me a lot about myself and about other cultures; I had a wonderful time in Taiwan and would love to go back some day.  But for now I will be returning to Swaziland this July to serve at the church I worked at last year. I can’t wait to go back and see all my friends.

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Update from Taiwan

Recently Janine and Ian Maxwell, founders of Heart for Africa traveled to Taiwan for a series of meetings and events.  Read on for an overview of their time in Taiwan.

The Launch of Heart for Africa – Taiwan

Last year, students from Taiwan traveled to Swaziland to serve with Heart for Africa along with their teacher, Mr. Lewis Lu.  The team of volunteers were a welcome addition to the volunteers from the US and Canada.

After returning home, Mr. Lu and others decided that to ensure a long term commitment to serving the children of Swaziland, they should start a charity.  And we are happy that they decided to join with Heart for Africa – US in the formation of this charity.  Heart for Africa – Taiwan will work on fund raising projects throughout Taiwan to help improve the lives of the people of Swaziland.  This year Mr. Lu and his students will return to Swaziland for another service project.  In addition to Mr. Lu’s team, traveling with Heart for Africa – US are 13 students and teachers form the Catholic Dioceses of Taichung, Taiwan.

Heart for Africa – Taiwan is a sister organization of Heart for Africa – US and Heart for Africa – Canada.

Meeting with the President of Taiwan and the Fervent Global Love of Life Award

During the visit, Janine was recognized as a recipient of the Fervent Global Love of Lives Award from the Chou Ta-Kuan Foundation.  This International award recognizes individuals that are helping to spread love and compassion all over the world.  Along with the other winners from Taiwan, Australia, Singapore, Japan, the US, and mainland China, Janine had the opportunity to meet with the President of Taiwan.  You can read more of his remarks on the official Taiwanese Presidential website.

Through her service to God and her love for the children of Africa, Janine was honored to be recognized by the people of Taiwan and the Chou Ta-Kuan Foundation.

10,000 Blankets Donated to the Children of Swaziland

As part of the Litsemba 2010 event in Swaziland on July 23, 2010, the Catholic Dioceses of Taichung, Taiwan, along with the Library of Changhua Senior High School and the Taiwan Catholic Mission Foundation, has donated 10,000 blankets to Heart for Africa.  These are not just any blankets.  These blankets are eco-friendly blankets made from recycled plastic bottles.  The entire team working on the project even spent time cleaning the bottles and removing the labels before they were processed to make the blankets.

Joining the students and teachers was Swaziland’s Ambassador to Taiwan, Ambassador Gwebu.  At the time of the work, Ambassador Gwebu was not aware that the bottles were being cleaned to make blankets for the children of her country.  Later, she was very happy to learn that the blankets were bound for Swaziland.

Check out the photo slideshow for pictures of the blanket drive.

“Is It Okay With You” Released in Chinese

Following last year’s launch of It’s Not Okay With Me in Chinese, Heart for Africa co-founder Janine Maxwell’s newest book, Is It Okay With You, was recently released in Chinese.  All proceeds from the sale of the book will help fund the mission trips of Taiwanese students to serve in Swaziland.  In response to the second book being made available in Chinese, Janine stated, “I’m so pleased to know that people throughout Taiwan and mainland China will have an opportunity to read the stories of so many that have decided it is not okay with them.  Together with volunteers from the United States and Canada, we all can make a marked improvement in the lives of the children of Swaziland and Kenya.”

Catholic Dioceses Donates $30,000 to Heart for Africa

We are very excited to announce that the Catholic Dioceses of Taichung, Taiwan has donated $20,000 USD to Heart for Africa.  This donation will be used by Heart for Africa to build the first caregivers home on Project Canaan.  With the construction about to begin on the first home for babies, providing a home for the caregivers is the next step in opening the home.  We are so thankful for the amazing generosity of the people of the Catholic Dioceses of Taichung.

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