Zambian Orphans Celebrate
with Christmas Cards from Frederick
By Sonia Boin, Frederick News Post - January
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
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
"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
"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
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,'"
"Everyone was very joyful," he wrote.
"The caretakers and teachers were happy that
the kids were given an experience of a lifetime."