Woman Works to Send Aid to Zambia
Byline: Janet Souter
Imagine you've left your friends and family and are now living halfway around the world. You achieve the good life, but suddenly learn that sisters, brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts and friends have died one by one over the space of a few years.
That's what's happened to 38-year-old Zindie Mutesha, a Palatine resident who attends Willow Creek Community Church. Zindie is also a princess from the Mphamba Chiefdom in the Lundazi district in the Eastern Province of Zambia in southern Africa - and refuses to turn her back on her people, victims of HIV/AIDS, other diseases and poverty.
Princess Zindie recently established The Lord of Harvest Ministries, a not-for-profit organization designed to assist local leaders with the tools and education necessary to prevent the spread of AIDS and raise funds for medical aid and drugs to send to her village.
"I have the medicines," she says. "And right now I only need $4,000 to ship it."
In an effort to shore up the existing working capital, she recently staged a fund-raiser featuring African dancers, a silent auction of African artifacts, music, a DJ and ethnic food. The event cleared a small profit, but not nearly enough to get the ball rolling.
But let's start at the beginning of Zindie's story and how she found herself halfway around the world, away from her family and the problems facing them.
Zindie's father, the leader of the Chiefdom of Mphamba, had nine daughters and one son.
Although their culture didn't encourage higher schooling for women, her father was determined that his five oldest daughters have a solid Christian education. Thanks to him, Zindie and her sisters attended the junior and senior high schools operated by the missionaries in other Zambian townships, some as far as 200 miles away.
"Praise God for the ... devoted missionary doctors and teachers who gave me a great education in Africa," she says. "When I see pictures of the helpless children in Zambia ... I realize that could have been me."
Fast forward to her arrival in the U.S. following her graduation from the University of Zambia and her marriage to Ron Mutesha in 1985. Her husband continued studying engineering at the University of Michigan and later they moved to Elk Grove Village.
Zindie eventually found a job in marketing management and studied fashion design while raising her children, now 15, 11 and 5.
So just when it appeared that Princess Zindie had achieved the good life, she heard of problems back in her village - problems she couldn't ignore.
"I started getting reports about my friends in Zambia," Zindie says. "I sat down and thought about it. First of all, there was my Aunt Dygrace, who is now caring for her grandchildren. She had 11 children, my mother had 10.
"All us children were raised together. Dygrace has lost seven of them: Grace, 42, left five orphans; Rose, 39, left six orphans; Robby, 28, died together with his wife and daughter; Flavia, 31, left three orphans and an infant of hers died too; Vitengelo, 28, died together with his wife, Lucy, 24; Suzyo, 26, left two children behind.
"These are my cousins from just one family. They're dying one after the other, every single year. How do you deal with that?
"I'm losing my whole country to HIV/AIDS," she said. "One day I was praying in my room, reading my book. I read that the Lord said, 'The harvest is full and the workers are few.' The Lord was speaking to me then. When I was reading that passage it hit me. I knew whenever I started that ministry it would be known as Lord of the Harvest."
I asked her how and why HIV/AIDS has reached such epidemic proportions there. One of the reasons, Zindie says, is that they don't like to admit that AIDS exists, that it's shame-based. The family may say a person died of malaria, or some other disease. …