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EHS Pillars - Fall 2016

PILLARS - The Episcopal High School Magazine www.ehshouston.org

Bright Knights LIGHTS IN

Bright Knights LIGHTS IN THE DARKNESS Teens often share recommendations about movies, boutiques, or restaurants, but in 2013, when Grace Geib returned from her first trip as a volunteer with Family Legacy Missions CampLife in Zambia, which serves the country's orphan population, she felt compelled to recommend a mission opportunity to her friends at EHS. She described the highs and lows in detail, the dire poverty she encountered, contrasted with the incredible connections and transformations that could be created in just one week. Two of her volleyball teammates took heart. In 2014 Alexandra Pearson volunteered, then in 2015 Gigi Hanna signed up. After they all volunteered together in July 2015, they decided to join forces and raise funds for a permanent gift to the camp, resulting in Bethel House, a safe home for 10 girls in Family Legacy's Tree of Life Village. When they learned they could rescue 10 orphan girls from the streets by building a house, they organized swiftly. Family Legacy, a Christian‐based foundation, provides assistance as well as spiritual and academic enrichment to orphans in the southern African country of Zambia. Due to HIV/AIDS mortality among Zambian adults, the nation has 24

the highest per capita orphan rate in the world, with 1 million orphans out of a total population of 12 million. The foundation operates in Tree of Life Children's Village near the capital, Lusaka. Camp volunteers pay their own transportation to Africa and also sponsor a child to attend camp. Each summer more than 600 American teens and adults travel to Zambia to volunteer for the camp sessions, which are held for seven consecutive weeks throughout the summer. Pearson explains that a volunteer's first tour of Lusaka and the slum called "Trashbag Village" is shocking. "You smell sewage everywhere," she says. "The homes are constructed from plastic bags, and the air is thick with dust and dirt. Drunken men line the street and prey on the children." "Most of these girls have been sexually abused by the time they are teenagers," adds Geib. "Many children suffer from malnutrition and are jaundiced with distended stomachs." Witnessing the positive transformations Family Legacy shapes amid such severe poverty and deprivation motivated Geib, Pearson, and Hanna to deepen their commitment to the mission. When they learned they could rescue 10 orphan girls from the streets by building a house for a cost of $150,000, they organized swiftly, holding bake sales at school, hosting a fundraiser kickoff party at Pearson's home, and making appeals to friends and local foundations. Their goal was to raise $150,000 in two years, and they surpassed that goal, raising $165,000 in eight months. 25

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