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zambia hope international

Zambian Orphans Celebrate with Christmas Cards from Frederick

By Sonia Boin, Frederick News Post - January 15, 2008

They wore worn-out clothes and sat on broken benches in a dilapidated school house, but their faces were washed and their eyes shone with joy.

More than 600 Zambian children orphaned by AIDS waited excitedly for their first-ever Christmas party.

No one was disappointed, according to a report from Adamson Musonda, a Zambian farmer who began taking care of the children seven years ago, when he started Zambia Hope International. The nonprofit organization gives the children education, a local clinic and the lessons they need to combat the spread of AIDS and to have self-sustaining jobs such as farming.

Musonda, who spoke to a number of groups while in Frederick in November, reported on the party in a letter to Thomas Cromwell, a Thurmont businessman who sponsored the party and a feast of goat meat, rice and vegetables -- the menu chosen by the children.

"While the food was being cooked," Musonda wrote, "the children gathered in groups according to their classes and ages in different corners of the school building, chatting and playing, very excited to be having a Christmas party for the first time in their life."

After the dinner, Musonda said, the children sang, danced, played games and acted out the Christmas story.

"They all received a Christmas greeting card from a pen pal in Frederick County, Maryland," he wrote. "This was the only present the children received, but they were very happy for the love the cards embodied."

When Frederick's new Senior Resource Center opened in early November, pictures and brief descriptions of many of the Zambian children were on display. Visitors were encouraged to choose a pen pal and begin with a Christmas card that would also be a first for the impoverished children.

Cromwell said Frederick residents sent 700 to 800 cards.

Holding her card from a Frederick senior close to her heart, 8-year-old Elanes Gondwe said, "'I am more than happy. Thank you so much,'" Musonda wrote.

"Everyone was very joyful," he wrote. "The caretakers and teachers were happy that the kids were given an experience of a lifetime."

Click on photo for larger image

Cry community orphans proudly show off their Christmas greeting cards

Cry community orphans enjoy at a christmas party.

Kanyama orphans proudly show off their Christmas greeting cards.

Some of the Kanyama orphans sharing a meal during a christmas party.