Project continues support of Kenyan village

Church members pack Zawadi bags for Orbit Village Project
Apr. 29, 2013 @ 12:05 AM

Members of First Baptist Church got going early Saturday morning to pack Zawadi bags for the Orbit Village Project, coordinated by Director Cyndy Waters.

“Zawadi” means gift in Swahili, and the bags are a ministry of the Sevierille-based project in Nairobi, Kenya.

While many of the children in the village have sponsors, others do not. In an effort to make every child feel sponsored, Waters came up with the idea for “Zawadi” bags. A donation of $25 helps with the cost of shipping and throwing a party for the children.

Over 500 children attend Orbit School of the Cross, which was also founded by the Project, and each one will receive a bag filled with school supplies, candy and clothing. A tract explaining the gospel message is also placed in the bag, and the message of salvation is presented to each child.

The project is in its seventh year of operation. In the past, Waters said the bags have been taken to Africa and packed there. But as the project has grown, packing on site became cumbersome. This is the first year bags have been packed at the church, and about 80 sponsors assisted.

Waters said she always knew she was called to missions in Africa, but her first exposure to Orbit Village occured in 1995, when several members of First Baptist Church attended the Nairobi Crusade, a church planting mission.

“I knew when I walked in that was the place I was supposed to be,” Waters said. “It was just like Jesus himself was there telling me.”

“We were called to action by what we found there in that small dusty village inside a rock quarry,” she added.

The project is supported completely by donations, and has no paid staff aside from Kenyan workers in the project.

Every school day over 1,200 meals are fed to students and staff.

Orbit village project also offers a college program, with students now enrolled in Nairobi Universities.

In 2000, an epidemic of illness broke out in the village, and Orbit Project overseers recognized AIDS. The following year, they took a medical group to Kenya and began teaching about and testing for the virus. Through this effort, The Orbit  Village Medical Clinic was born.

The more time Waters spent in the village, the more needs she felt led to address. As HIV and AIDS began claiming the lives of many parents, an orphanage called the Orbit Child Refuge was born. “The disease was too far advanced in some of the cases, but at least we could give the parents the comfort of knowing their children would be cared for,” she said.

About 100 children are housed in the orphanage, and other vulnerable children have their needs met through the Home based care program.

Sponsorship can be as committed as a person wants it to be, Waters said. In some cases, volunteers become “extreme sponsors,” frequently writing or calling the child to which they are assigned. Some even visit, attend weddings, and save college money for the children they sponsor.

Those interested can still sponsor a Zawadi bag or make a monetery donation. Items such as jump ropes, nerf footballs, and ball caps may also be donated. Each sponsor will receive a hand-written thank you letter by the child who receives the bag.

For more information, contact Cyndy Waters at 865-591-6337 or via email at cyndybwaters@mac.com.

n jfrye@themountainpress.com