The Student Newspaper of Westminster Christian Academy

The Wildcat Roar

The Student Newspaper of Westminster Christian Academy

The Wildcat Roar

The Student Newspaper of Westminster Christian Academy

The Wildcat Roar

Providing a Vision: African Vision of Hope

Courtesy of Scott VonderBruegge
A very full class of older students.

One of Westminster’s most significant international partnerships is African Vision of Hope, an organization based in Zambia with the mission of bringing education and the Gospel to hopeless children to change their lives.


Their ministry includes rescue homes that act as safe havens for children and teens who have unsafe family situations. They have multiple homes in various locations across Zambia all with the purpose to provide a safe environment for the children. 


“Children are victims of human trafficking as they do not have an adult to protect them, they are moved from place to place, used for hard labor, beaten, sexually abused and will use their own bodies to be able to get a meal,” said Judi Bertels, President/CEO of African Vision of Hope.


Unlike conditions typical to students at WCA, in Zambia people genuinely fear and suffer daily from hunger, abuse, and sexual trafficking. They have come to realize that their only avenue to better their lives and come out of extreme poverty is through education. Even so, without meeting basic needs such as food and safety, higher education seems unachievable to so many of the children. 


“The rescue homes show that it’s not about education but that african vision of hope recognizes that you have to meet the needs before a child can learn and put them in a safe environment where they don’t have to worry about abuse where they have people who can feed them and care for them and they can learn,” said Karen Bowman, Westminster’s Global Education Coordinator. 


AvoH has created these rescue homes to ensure the safety of their students and provide an alternative living situation that allows children to focus on their education. There are currently seven homes, some gender split and others co-ed ranging anywhere from 10-100+ students residing there.


“Children are provided homes, [stand in] moms or dads stay at each home, beds, food, medical care, school supplies, all their physical needs, bible study and spiritual discipline, counseling, the opportunity to be part of a family,” said Bertels.  


The basic human necessities so deprived in these children are being restored daily by the caretakers in these homes. Because of this, the kids are then able to begin to live a more full life.  

A group of girls very excited to go to AVoH (Courtesy of Scott VonderBruegge)

“These homes are special as they allow these vulnerable children to understand love, be loved and be part of a family for the first time. [Here, they can be] a child and are able to play and have fun. They learn about the love of Christ, forgiveness and how to take that into their community and world,” said Bertels. 


Even so, not all the students who attend the African Vision of Hope school reside in the rescue homes. Many live off campus and walk to school daily because they do not have other forms of transportation. Although it is typical for Zambians to walk even up to two hours a day to get to school, three or four hours is a little absurd. 


A group of seniors who had been walking over three hours everyday to and from school were seeking an alternative. They had a large upcoming nationwide assessment, which should they fail, results in them not receiving a diploma. Because they also don’t have electricity in their homes, and seeking more time to study before the sun goes down, rather than walking, they look in a different direction. 


“They had their grade twelve exams coming up which for us is kinda like the ACT, but not exactly. [They take this exam when] they’re a senior to get their diploma. [Westminster students] will get [their] diploma from [their] grades, but [Zambian students] have to pass this nationwide test or they are not a highschool graduate,” said Maggie Sperber, WCA teacher who visited AVoH during the summer of 2023. 


Higher education is one of the only ways to end extreme poverty and these students understood that. They so intensely desired to pass their exams, they were finding a way to overcome their obstacles so as to have success in their future. 


Although typical to most “homes” there, the building consisted of cinder block walls, dirt packed floors, with no electricity or plumbing, and yet the group of students took a hold of their situation.  


“They had really been very resourceful because they had brought bedding […] but other than that] there was no furniture there at all,” said Lisa Harding, Westminster science teacher who visited AVoH during the summer of 2023. 


“It was pretty impressive because […] they had a chore chart on the wall, and they were sharing the [house] work [… and] it affirmed them trying to achieve a goal. Not a single time did I get the impression that they were trying to escape any kind of authority at all; in fact they might have established more authority for themselves than they would have had in their home situations anyway,” said Harding. 


Even in such exceedingly meager conditions compared to what Westminster students are accustomed to, these students would let nothing stand in their way of success. Westminster’s partnership with AVoH includes monetary funding and building relationships with the students. Each grade at WCA is responsible for supporting two students and providing all the necessities for school. 


Over the summer of 2023, some Westminster teachers had the opportunity to visit African Vision of Hope and see firsthand the ministry that exists there. Karen Bowman, Scott VonderBruegge, Maggie Sperber, Heidi Thies, and Lisa Harding all had the opportunity to visit AVoH and further strengthen WCA’s partnership with them. 


“AVoH [is trying to] help these students succeed in something that is so statistically unlikely, […] that is to get an education and continue on to get a level of education that will allow them not only to change their future, but to be able to [help] their family too,” said Harding. 


Often it seems like Westminster students, or even more generally American students seek any excuse not to study, or put off their homework to rather hang out with friends or have fun, but this is not the case for these students in Zambia. Education truly is their only path to better their lives and their determination is very admirable. They will do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. 


African Vision of Hope’s motto states:


“As a student of African Vision of Hope, I know that an Education is Key to my future. I pledge to Honor God and Others, Develop my Character and be a Leader by Serving. Through a Biblical Worldview and an Innovation Mindset, I will become a Community Changer!”


This organization so deeply impacts the lives of the students they care for. God has placed his people there to care for and encourage these kids who would otherwise be hopeless. Through education and God’s providence, African Vision of Hope is actively changing lives and bettering the life even of those in the community.

More to Discover