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Boarding a plane to Zimbabwe for my first missions trip, I was headed to the Village of Hope in Harare and completely unaware of the lasting impact the trip would have on me.
I always said I wasn’t the “missionary” type nor would I ever go to Africa – I imagine God laughed at me for years every time I said this, and he continues to laugh as Africa is now a priority in my life.
While at the Village, I met two incredible kids: Gabriel and Pam. I was drawn instantly to Gabriel when I arrived as his joy, laugh, and infectious smile were irresistible. One afternoon, I peeked into Gabriel’s classroom where he whispered to me that he wanted to be a pilot when he grew up. My heart broke, as I wanted nothing more than for Gabriel’s dream to become reality.
Pam and I bonded over talks of college when I told her I was a University teacher. Her dream was to attend Business school. While caught up talking about college life, as I would with my students, I completely forgot she had no financial means of paying for school and her dream may never happen.
Gabriel and Pam are both orphans living at the Village of Hope. Neither one has family who can provide financial support for education. They will complete high school while living at the Village but after graduation, there are few options. Funds are not available for post-secondary school, and the government requires they leave the Village once they are done school. Knowing that all the children may only ever receive a high school education and possibly end up on the streets weighed heavy on my heart long after I came home. So, I researched ways these kids could have the opportunity to attend college.
For a year, I’ve been working towards creating an endowment fund that will provide funds so the children of the Village of Hope can attend post-secondary school. The creation of this fund has been a challenge. I’ve found and lost many great ideas, felt defeated, and walked many dead end paths. However, in it all, I’ve heard God the loudest – “Where I lead you, I go with you”. I believe that God was being intentional in sending me to Africa and is now leading me in the direction of His purpose for my life.
A fund is being set up with Canada Gives, a company I feel understands the vision and passion behind this mission., a company I feel understands the vision and passion behind this mission. Thinking about the task of fundraising creates anxiety. However, the moment I think about Gabriel all grown up in a pilot’s uniform, my worries disappear.
Photos of Gabriel and Pam hang on my fridge as constant reminders of why I committed to this project. Gabriel became my sponsor child and is the inspiration behind “Gabriel’s Hope Foundation”.

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