Students at Summit Middle School in Edmond were observing Operation Africa Friday as they reached out to children in need.
Former Summit educator Megan Hawley, on leave from her post at The Havens, an orphanage in Zambia, Africa, is in the United States for six months and took time to visit Summit and the students and faculty who have been helping the babies at the orphanage who have no one else at this time to help them.
Hawley’s teammates at Summit hit upon the idea of sponsoring some of the needs at The Havens, and Operation Africa was born.
Operation Africa is a day set aside to sort and package thousands of items to benefit the children in the area outside of the orphanage.
“Summit students are packing up 500 Zip-lock bags filled with pencils, books, toys, games and candy to be sent to the children who live in the town outside of the orphanage in Zambia,” Hawley said.
Kristian Khoury said, “These children don’t have nearly what we do, and it makes me feel good to help them. My mom tells me we should be grateful for what we have.”
Kristian said it is hard to imagine children his age not having toothbrushes or toothpaste or even pencils or books.
“Operation Africa is a student-led donation drive which started about eight years ago,” said science teacher Ellen Jezercak, “and for the past two years, the Friends of Rachel Club has coordinated collecting, sorting and shipping the donations.”
Most of the teachers at Summit and their students sponsor a child at the orphanage and at Christmas they send them something special.
Jezercak’s classes sponsor two children, a 7- and an 8-year-old.
“My classes have been sponsoring these two children for five years,” Jezercak said.
The students keep up with the children in the orphanage through Power Points sent by Hawley and through Hawley’s blog: zambianhavenonearth. blogspot.com.
Hawley said she was first introduced to the orphanage when she was participating in summer missions work while a student at Oklahoma Christian University.
“Although I worked in different areas doing mission work in the summers, I always knew that for the long-term I would end up in Africa,” Hawley said. “I love the African children and I love being able to fill a need that would otherwise go unmet.”
The orphanage is the home to an average of 75 babies up to the age of 2-years old.
“Most of the babies were born to mothers who have AIDS and were orphaned or for some reason are vulnerable and needed a home,” Hawley said.
Hawley is among the staff of workers who love, teach and nurture these small survivors. She works along with 40 Zambian women who are called “Aunties” and the orphanage’s founders Roy and Kathi Merritt.
“All of the children will eventually go back to other members of the family. We have five or six children who are a little older and we are still trying to find safe homes for them.”
Leslie Weber, literacy teacher, and Janelle Cypret, sponsor of the school’s Friends of Rachel club, help organize the Operation Africa and raise funds for the mailing expenses.
FOLLOW Hawley’s blog at: http://zambianhavenonearth.blogspot.com/.