Our Benevolence Fund

Had we known that we would be so involved in HIV/AIDS work we might have named this organization something other than “Village Schools”. Sometimes we also say that had we known how big this work would have become, we might have simply run away. But it is hard to preach what we preach to our students and then do nothing when it is their parents, and their neighbors and their little brothers and sisters who are sick and dying. To be at our clinic and look out at the sea of people and to recognize that most of them would otherwise be dead today is as phenomenal as it is heart-wrenching. It is not that there is no longer death here – there is – but there is also an incredible amount of life among those who are known everywhere simply as “Mama’s friends.” These 1050+ people are those who only a few years ago had no idea what was killing everyone in these villages, many of whom had wasted away to near nothing and couldn’t even leave their homes. We are talking about women who want nothing more than for their children not to be orphans … kids who are on the ARVs and are now able to finish primary school … fathers who are strong enough now to work in their fields and provide for their families.

It is incredible the amount of volunteer labor that goes into every successful day at the clinic. It thrills us that so many of our students volunteer to serve, and to learn that more and more of them now want to be doctors and nurses in the future, many with the goal of coming back to serve with us. It is wonderful for them to see that it is our own students who are running this clinic. Msafiri and Dicta have kind hearts and for nearly three years have truly served people. Msafiri was raised by his grandparents after his parents died and he never thought he would ever get to go to school; Dicta is the first girl from her family ever to study. We are thankful not only for the work they do but also for the example that they are to our other students. God has truly blessed us by having them join us in this ministry and by having them serve so faithfully.

The wonderful news is that after all of these years, it was this September that the government official recognized VST not simply as an education charity but also as a medical charity. This is a huge step and now we look forward to soon having legal recognition for our HIV/AIDS clinic at Madisi and the open doors to expand our services even more.

Our clinic is different from everything else we do. We believe in hard work and our students truly do work. We believe that things need to be sustainable and our students have to pay school fees so that our schools can run with no outside donations for their on-going operating costs. But this clinic is different. This is about people dying. This is about children. There are those who have wondered about what happens the day that people don’t want to help us, or the day that the money is not enough. But after all of these years, we can honestly say that we’re not afraid of that at all. God always seems to provide. We also know in our hearts that if we started charging people, some could never pay, and they would die. And when they would die, they would leave behind even more orphans in these villages. We are also very aware that we have between 5 and 10 doctors and nurses who come from the city to our clinic twice a month – we don’t pay anything for them to come, for the gas in their vehicles, or for all that they do. If we were charging people so that the clinic would be sustainable, they wouldn’t come to this clinic anymore without wanting us to pay them, and we know we could never afford to pay them what they would charge us. And then there is Msafiri who serves, literally, day and night. He’s our former student, and he is loyal, but we still know that he serves for a fraction of what he would be paid if he worked in a government hospital. But here he knows that he never has a single patient who gets turned away because there is no money, and there is always medicine for him to treat each and every patient – that to him is priceless. What is important is having the discernment to recognize the difference between charity and development. Development is what our students need, charity is what the sick and the dying need.