(By Sarah Fisher)
“You are where you are to help others where they are. This isn’t a Christian sideline hobby; compassion is our complete vocation” (Ann Voskamp).
In 1904, a newborn baby was found by a missionary woman named Anna Fisher in a remote corner of Zambia called Kalene Hill. This baby had been left to die atop the grave of its mother as was often the case among the Lunda tribe if a woman died in childbirth. Anna, with a heart of compassion for children, felt called to take the child in and thus began the children’s home.
The home moved from Kalene Hill to Hillwood Farm where the Fisher family permanently settled and continues to oversee the running of the home today. Although the practice of leaving babies on graves is no longer, the orphanage is currently home to fifty-eight children, ages eighteen months to sixteen years, from surrounding villages as well as from the countries of Congo and Angola which both border us closely.
Each child comes with their own unique story, and all of the children have lost either one or both parents. Billy and Ruth Kasochi, a Zambian couple and members of our local assembly act as orphanage parents. They live on-site in order to help organize and manage the thirteen mamas responsible for caring for the children and giving them a loving, nurturing environment.
They provide a gospel foundation based on Christian principles in the form of daily prayer and devotions time, regular Sunday school lessons, Bible studies, and Scripture memory. The children are cared for with a balance of love and fun, instruction, and discipline.
The goal is to eventually allow them to assimilate back into their villages as productive adults. Days are filled with chores, school, games and activities, cooking, crafting, gardening, homework, and free play.
I am so thankful that God has provided me with the opportunity to become part of this work and use my skills as a teacher since I married into the Fisher family and moved to Zambia in 2017. It is such a blessing to have the opportunity to work alongside our local community in order to provide for so many children and their families who are unable to support themselves.
I am reminded daily of the special love that Jesus had for children, for the poor, and for the fatherless. And His desire is for us to also have compassion and a desire to help those who are unable to help themselves with both their spiritual and physical needs. James says,
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?
In 2018 a small sponsorship program, called “Hillwood’s Helping Hands,” was started. This program gives young people in Canada the opportunity to partner with and support a school-aged student at Hillwood for $2.00-$5.00 each month depending on the student’s age and grade level.
This covers the cost of going to school and PTA fees, uniforms, school supplies, honey for the breakfast program, special celebrations and allows us to provide each child with a gift at Christmas and on their birthday. More importantly, the program allows our students in Zambia to communicate with their friends in Canada with letters and pictures.
This is a highlight for our kids, who find it incredible that someone on the other side of the globe cares for them enough to want to support and write to them! It’s such a very practical example of God’s love.
Although the orphanage provides many opportunities for involvement, the majority of my time is spent at school. Prayers were answered in 2017 when Larry and Ellen Bell, a Christian couple from Texas traveled to our tiny corner of Zambia with hearts full of love for the orphans at Hillwood.
Upon learning that our children were traveling up to fourteen kilometers each day to and from school and being bullied by others, due to the stigma associated with being an orphan, they decided to make a donation in memory of their daughter Amy. This allowed us to build our very own school on orphanage property.
Today, our students call the Amy Bell Hillwood Orphanage School home. It’s a place where they are cherished, protected, and encouraged to develop a love and understanding of the Word of God. Although Amy Bell School is a government/community project and not a private Christian school, we are blessed with the freedom to share God’s Word and the gospel whenever and however we choose.
This is done through weekly Bible classes, Scripture memory clubs, Bible studies for senior students, and a youth outreach on Sunday mornings. Currently, we are planning a VBS program for our students which will take place this coming dry season. Many of the children at Hillwood have professed salvation and we are thankful for those we have seen living out their faith and producing fruit.
We have the opportunity of educating not only our orphanage students but more than ninety students from the surrounding villages, some of whom walk up to two hours to join us for classes. We are also able to support five community teachers and two local mamas who cook breakfast and lunch for our students.
One of my biggest worries before leaving for Zambia was that I would have to give up my passion for teaching. How could I possibly continue in such a remote area where I would have to jump through many hoops to be properly certified and the primary grades are taught in the Lunda language which I knew would be slow to learn?
God came through in a big way, providing not only a classroom but an entire school and staff that required training, teaching, and managing.
My involvement at Amy Bell School has also opened up many other opportunities with different groups of youth and women in the surrounding villages.
I am constantly reminded each day of the words from a song we sing with the kids, “Yes, God’s the one who day by day will care for you in every way.” God’s goodness never fails to overwhelm!
"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
If you are interested in supporting the Hillwood Children’s Home or the Amy Bell School it can be done through MSC Canada using the following link: https://www.msccanada.org/donee/unlisted-workers-projects/
Type HILLWOOD CHILDREN’S HOME into the recipient box on the donation page and any specific instructions, about whether the donation should go to the orphanage or the school (or split between both), can be described in the “order notes” on the checkout page.