every once in a while you get the privilege of meeting someone who truly inspires you and makes you want to be a better person. in my last few years of traveling the globe i've come across some amazing people and i want to dedicate this post to one of them.
in september of 2007 i took my first journey to zambia, africa- a place that has since captured my heart. after flying 18-hours and driving another 9 in-country, i reached the little village that was my destination. at the end of my 2-week trip i met a woman in a nearby town named Joyce. Joyce was a spunky Zambian full of life and joy. i learned that she ran an NGO (non-government-organization) called PVCW (short for Program for Vulnerable Children & Women). that first year i had no idea if i would ever see this woman again. at that time i had no idea why God had sent me to that country, only that He said "GO". and for the record, i was a bit intimidated... i mean your first time in africa can be a little scary when you have no idea what to expect and the only images in your head are from movies that mostly depict the tragedy of the continent.
when i returned to zambia in september of 2008, this time staying 3 months, i made it a point to go and visit joyce again. my philosophy is that the more people you know in a foreign country, the better. it can't hurt to know people and trust me, this theory has proved itself over and over as i've found myself in strange situations. when i would take my weekly trips into town for the necessities (cold coke, chicken and internet access) i made it a point to stop by joyce's office and chat with her. during one of those chats she invited me (and the friend who was living there with me) to accompany her on a trip to a strange place called Nbwalya (pronounced nuh-bwal-ya). you can read all about that crazy trip here. while the experience was interesting to say the least, it cemented my friendship with joyce. it was on that trip that she shared with me her love for the women & children of Zambia and the dreams God had given her to help them. she told me stories of villages that she regularly visits and the ways she trains and empowers women to provide for their family by teaching them farming, hygiene, sewing, food-making and much more. "but" she said to me, "i always teach them to read first and then have them study women in the bible who God used to do amazing things." it might seem strange, but it's exactly what they need. many women in rural Zambia are treated lower than men and it has perpetuated this cycle of women believing that they are only good to cook, clean and make babies which couldn't be any farther from the truth.
to put it simply, the work Joyce is doing is wonderful and very needed. she is a single woman who has become a spiritual mother to many. every time i sit in her office numerous people drop by just to say hello to her. this year while i was in her office i met a young man named abraham who was deaf, which led me to learn about the needs of the deaf school and ultimately to the incredible story you can read about here. abraham, was quick to tell me (by writing it) that Joyce is like a mother to the deaf children in the community. when they have a need, she does her best to fill it. Joyce does all of this work with absolutely no salary. whatever donations are received for her organization get put right into the needs of the communities. she lives completely on faith that God will provide for her. i am so humbled by her committment and her service.
before i left Zambia Joyce told me that she would really like a King James Bible. i couldn't find one there so i just purchased one here at home and had her name inscribed on it. it will be put to good use. Joyce is up from 4-6am every morning leading a group of people in her village in a prayer meeting. now that is dedication. like i said, i'm humbled. so i'm going to send that to her along with some pictures and few other things i purchased for her. it's a small gesture of appreciation for the love she's shown me over the past few years and the inspiration she has been to me. i only hope i can leave a legacy of love like she has. thank you Joyce for the sacrificial love you have shown to the people of Zambia and to the foreigners who pass through your town.