In 2006, Stern Elkind & Curray’s annual auction for charity reached across the world to help children at the Sisters of Charity orphanage in Malawi, Africa.
The firm raised more than $3,000 to purchase formula, medicine, clothing, shoes and school supplies for the orphanage, discovered by paralegal, Mary Connin while on sabbatical. Read more about Mary’s adventure in the African countryside below.
My two month sabbatical was fast approaching and I wanted to make such a generous gift of time memorable. I decided to go visit my girlfriend and her family in Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa. My friend’s husband had been appointed U.S. Ambassador to Malawi, so even though it was a trip to Africa, I knew I would be traveling in style.
My friend and I went on safari, stayed in beautiful safari lodges, witnessed the spectacle of herds of hundreds of elephants in their natural habitat, visited the indescribable Victoria Falls in Zambia, actually contemplated bungee jumping off the bridge over the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe (maturity prevailed), and maneuvered through the rather hands-on immigration processes of Malawi, Zambia, and Botswana.
The most interesting part of my trip, though, was to observe day-to-day life in Lilongwe. As part of her duties as the ambassador’s wife, my friend is on a committee that donates food, money and supplies to an orphanage in Lilongwe ran by the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Theresa’s Order. What a treat it was to visit the orphanage! I must say I was nervous, not knowing what to expect. But the children were delightful! Well behaved, sweet, playful, curious, and enthralled by the simplest things. The ice in our cooler was a huge, huge hit.
On the day we visited, the orphanage had about 35 children living there. My friend tells me the orphan population can be as high as 50 or 60 children, ranging in age from newborn to about 12. When I was there, there were cribs with 7 babies under the age of 6 months in a small room set aside for a nursery. The nuns are totally dependent on donations for everything, and my friend has at times received phone calls from the nuns simply desperate for supplies.
Since my sabbatical was indeed so memorable, shortly after my return to work I got to be the entertainment at one of our staff meetings. I showed my pictures and told my stories. The pictures of the children in the orphanage are compelling, that the staff voted to name the orphanage to be our 2006 charity. We have raised more than $3,000 to buy a lot of necessities. We have already sent two boxes of clothes to my friend, who will deliver them to the orphanage, and we are in the process of purchasing diapers (cloth diapers only in Africa!), rubber pants, diaper pins, formula, schools supplies, ointments and lotions, and toys.
These children live in extreme poverty, and I am extremely proud that the items we will send will have a direct and immediate impact on their day-to-day lives.
– Mary Connin