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— Sixty African orphans have a home and are

receiving an education and

medical assistance, thanks to a

trio of Americans who have a

burden for the AIDS-stricken

population of an almost bank

rupt country of Zimbabwe.

An update on the project was

given in the Gentry area recent

ly by Helton Fisher, a graduate

with two degrees from Loma

Linda University, Loma Linda,

California and an undergradu

ate degree from Southwestern

Adventist University, Keene,

Texas.

Since 1999 Dr. Saleem Farag,

his wife Grace, and Helton

Fisher have struggled to main

tain their 30-acre campus, all

accomplished in spite of the fact

that no major church or civic or

ganization has given backing.

Their assistance comes from

dozens of donors, including

some European countries that

are sympathetic to what they are

doing.

The orphanage, specifically

located next to a local elemen

tary school, is on the outskirts

of Harare, the capital of Zin

babwe, a country that has gone

through a major economic crisis

in recent years.

"The needs of children with

out parents are more important

than the political and social

needs of the nation," says Hel

ton Fisher, who recently visited

relatives in America as part ofhis support program for orphans.

Dr. and Mrs. Farag started the Zimbabwe Orphanage project in 1999 after serving with the Eastern African Division of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. An Egyptian by birth, Dr. Farag has served in major public health positions in the United States, Australia and Africa during his career. The orphanage is their retirement project, says Fisher.

"Today there are 60 children in our home including those in the nursery," says Fisher, "as well as some in the nursery for babies and children under five years of age. Our policy is to build gradually and implement each project only as funds become available."

Major grants have been made to the project by European countries as well as private donors from all part of the world. According to Fisher, there are more than a million orphans in Africa as a result of AIDS.

"Generations of children are growing up without their parents, leaving aged grandparents to try to support 10 or more grandchildren. Many times there are no surviving relatives and that is why the Newstart Children's Home was born."

He continued, "These orphaned children did not ask to be brought into the world, only to be completely abandoned and nowhere to go and nobody toturn to."

Their goal, he says, is to give orphans a home, education, and the emotional stability to grow up to become leaders in society.

"It is an island of hope in a sea of hopelessness," says Fisher. They handle only children who have lost both parents to AIDS and have nobody to care for them. The home provides shelter, food, schooling, security and love, as well as emotional and spiritual support to help them cope with an uncertain future.

Each child is given vocational training such as agriculture, building, sewing, welding, plumbing and mechanics, in addition to a basic high school education.

Fisher says that it has been very difficult in the past years because of the extreme inflation experienced in the country.

For more information, visit the Newstart Children's Home Web site: www.zimbabweorphanageproject.com.

A donor center is located in Brunswick, Maine, the home of Dr. and Mrs. Farag's daughter, Mary Penner.

Community, Pages 7 on 08/05/2009

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