Zambian First Lady Thanks Charity Group for Donations Local Organization Hosts Fund-Raisers to Benefit African Countries

Article excerpt

Byline: Jon Davis Daily Herald Staff Writer

On a hot, sticky Saturday afternoon, a group of women gathered in a Barrington Hills mansion to hear how their money is fighting poverty halfway around the world.

"I don't even have the words to express the gratitude ... for your standing with us," said Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika, Zambia's ambassador to the United States, before introducing her country's first lady, Maureen Mwanawasa.

"You are transforming the world," she told the crowd of between 50 and 60 volunteers with Hands for Hope - a Barrington-based charity that's raised about $500,000 for health, education and anti-poverty programs in central and southern Africa.

Mwanawasa, an attorney, mother of four and wife of Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa, then detailed how the money raised by women from across the suburbs is helping her people, especially women and children:

- The money supports a national school for blind children, allowing them to have bedding, uniforms, musical instruments and a van; and the second of many "market schools" - daylong schools for children of women who work 12 hours a day in marketplaces.

- "Project Goat," which buys goats for women in villages, who then raise them for milk, meat and more goats, and pass on extra kids to other women in other villages.

- HIV/AIDS mitigation, clean water, education and clean maternity wards.

"I believe that giving is not about having so many things, it's about sacrifice," Mwanawasa said, thanking the women for giving their money to charity instead of spending it on themselves or their own families. …