On February 27th the Celebrate HOPE (Hunger, Orphans, Poverty and Education) event was held in Cape Girardeau and over $121,000 was raised to construct a children's home in Swaziland, Africa. Janine Maxwell, author of It's Not Okay With Me, and vice president of Heart for Africa, a faith-based organization bringing hope to the people of Africa, was our guess speaker with over 590 people in attendance.
Maxwell shared Heart for Africa's plans to build a children's home for abandoned babies on 2,500 acres of land, called Project Canaan. Swaziland has one of the world's largest orphan populations (200,000 orphans and 15,000 orphan-headed households) and HIV infection rate of over 42%. It is projected the adult population will be wiped out by AIDS by the year 2020. The acreage, owned by Heart for Africa, will be used to develop a self-sustaining agriculture community that will help reverse economic and social challenges in the country.
The goal of raising $100,000 was eclipsed by the generous sponsorships of local individuals and businesses along with cash donations and silent/oral auction proceeds. Heart for Africa and the Celebrate HOPE organizers are very appreciative of the giving spirit of the attendees, sponsors, local media and area businesses that donated items. Local restaurants were especially generous in providing the food and beverages for the nearly 600 people in attendance.
Over 50 area residents will be traveling to Swaziland this summer to do mission work and dedicate the site where the children's home will be constructed in memory of Jared Birk. The generous spirit of our area's residents has once again demonstrated how they care for neighbors in need whether local or around the world. The Celebrate Hope committee wants to thank all those who made this event an overwhelming success as we look forward to a brighter future for Swaziland.
RAELENNA FERGUSON, Celebrate Hope