by Divya Wodon, Naina Wodon, and Quentin Wodon
In Zambia, in large part because of the AIDS pandemic, one million out of the 12 million children in the country are orphans. A few years ago the daughter of Mark Fuerst from the Greenbelt Rotary Clubd ecided to go to Zambia as a volunteer with a ministry to help orphans. At the time Mark asked “Where is Zambia?” and “Isn’t it very hot there?” When Mark’s daughter returned she told him that Zambia was where she belonged. Eventually Mark attended a fund raiser in Dallas and realized that he had to go too. So together with his wife he trained at the gym so that they could keep up with the orphans and after a few weeks they took off. Mark arrived in Lusaka in June 2011 and bonded with the children, some of whom called him Uncle Mark!
Upon returning to the US, Mark raised $80,000 with the help of his and other Rotary clubs to build an orphan home and he has since returned to Zambia every year to work with the children. The project has sent over 600 Americans to spend one week with the orphanage working and playing with the children. Mark is also lining up sponsors to enable the children to go to for $40/month to a good private school where the children are well treated and protected from abuse. At the school the children get books and uniforms, a meal every day, and medical attention if needed. Mark’s advice to other Rotarians is that with commitment there is no telling what a tremendous difference one can make because “One person is the start of a thousand”.
Note: This story is reproduced with minor changes from a book published by the authors entitled Membership in Service Clubs: Rotary’s Experience (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).