Sue and Richard Walkinton (Richard now deceased) have been coming to Whitianga for many years. They have always had a special affiliation with Africa. Unlike Whitianga there are no ocean beaches in Zambia because it is a land locked country at the crossroads of Central, Southern and East Africa. The nation has a population of around 19.5 million and is two and half times larger in area.
The following story is a good news story of commitment passed on from one generation to another. It is also a story of response to suffering, not taking it away, but providing a means to live better through it, knowing someone else cares. The story that follows is written by their daughter, Hannah Warwick.
Hannah and her husband, (also Richard), own HAMR Home Building Contractors in Whitianga.
“My parents, Sue and Richard Walkinton have supported ChildFund, New Zealand for over 25 years. We have all given and been given ‘Gifts that Grow’ for years. ‘Gifts That Grow’ are items such as livestock, (a goat), plants or seeds and practical items such as a hand-washing station. In the past, for Christmas my children have been given a certain amount of money and they get to choose what they would like to give to another family, i.e. chickens, a tree, school supplies et cetera. This is the way of ChildFund and I love that it enables others to continue to provide for themselves, rather than just giving some food or water. It truly does empower people and that is a wonderful gift to give.
There is a special area of Zambia called Luangwa that has been a focal point for the support of my parents and Child Fund New Zealand. They visited Luangwa in 2011 to see the progress of some of the projects that they had supported. This included building the new Special Needs School that was under construction. They also met some of the women involved in the Goat Project, where a group of woman have started their own little business raising, breading and milking goats. The plan was for my parents to return to Luangwa in 2018 to revisit the people and to see the completed Special Needs School. But unfortunately Dad passed away months prior to the trip and it was no longer feasible for Mum to go. Then Covid 19 delayed things further, but Mum was quietly determined to return. Earlier this year, she raised the possibility of my brother returning to Zambia with her. However, it wasn’t long before my sister and I also jumped ‘on board’. After all, we have heard so much about Zambia over the years! To have the opportunity to travel together, Mum and her three adult children to see the results of some of the support that my parents, along with ChildFund, have achieved, was something just so special that none of us could pass that up. We all left our children and our partners in New Zealand to embark on a wonderful adventure.
We visited the Special Needs School taking them some footballs as well as builders’ pencils, into which we had drilled holes and tied string on the ends. Then each student could have their own pencil hung around their neck. Previously, children with special needs were hidden at home and not included in the community. I think this school was the first in Zambia and has been an incredible success. There are now students that come from all over Zambia. The children were just so happy to have a school at all and they have realised other people out there have disabilities too and that they are not alone.
The most recent project that Mum had significantly contributed towards, was a new Medical Centre in Sinyawagora, which has a maternity ward, separate wards for male and female patients and even its own laboratory. This has only just opened in April this year. Prior to this, women were choosing to birth at home as the facilities were so bad. It was common for families in need of medical attention to walk up to 25kms to the nearest adequate facility. There are very few vehicles and so families would have to carry their sick children and women would attempt to walk this distance while in labour. It is such a great feeling to see that money donated to ChildFund is well spent and there is no doubt that the funds make it to the right places.
We thought we were going to have a visit to the Medical Centre. However, ChildFund had organised a special sponsors event for us, that was also attended by the Vice President of Zambia, whom we were very privileged to meet. Apparently our visit was also actually televised in Zambia. We had a tour through the new health centre and met a number of the 49 healthy babies who had been born recently in the new maternity ward. The local people were just so grateful for the support that my family had given to this clinic. In speaking with the midwife there, she mentioned that one of the things that would make a significant difference in the clinic would be an incubator. There had been a set of twins born prematurely and unfortunately as they did not have such equipment, one of the babies did not survive. So my family is now on a mission to raise the $6,000 required to buy an incubator to assist further in this clinic.
My 10 year old daughter, Anabelle and her friend Emma, who is six years old, had done some fundraising prior to our trip. They made lemonade and chocolate chip biscuits, sold them at their roadside ‘shop’ and then split the money between their chosen charities. Emma donated to the Rarotongan SPCA and Anabelle wanted me to give her money to a family in need in Zambia. I spoke with ChildFund in Luangwa who identified the family of a 12 year-old girl who had been attacked by a crocodile while gathering water. Faliciya was incredibly lucky to be alive and is now adjusting to life with one leg. With the help of ChildFund we received permission to visit this family, gave them a letter and a photo from Anabelle explaining how she had fundraised the money. It was just such a moving moment that I will never forget. The two girls, Anabelle and Faliciya, are now communicating with letters. This young woman is already sponsored by ChildFund. In addition, we have decided as a family that we will also sponsor her brother, 2 year old Blackson. We have three daughters (15,13 and 10) and they have all now decided that they want to personally financially contribute on a monthly basis to do this. It is pretty heart warming to see these traits coming through generation after generation.
If anyone would like to donate towards the incubator you can email me for details firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively if you wanted to consider sponsoring a child or giving ‘Gifts that Grow’ I can certainly vouch for Childfund. I love that this organisation puts support in place to empower people to continue to help themselves.
Account Name: ChildFund New Zealand
Branch Name: ASB Business Banking Auckland
Account Number: 12-3011-0118526-55
Payee Reference: Zambia
Payee Code: Incubator
Photo above: Hannah Warwick, left, with her mother, Sue, to the right, brother Oliver and
sister Kate, back row, far right. They were guests of the Chief and members of the village
of Sinyawagora on the occasion of their goodwill visit to the Rural Health Centre the
family helped to establish.