Monday, December 21, 2015

When Cash Makes More Sense Than Clothing

So often ... way too often, a well-meaning line of questioning about BFGO turns sour because the inquisitor wants to know what they can purchase for the kids because they'd prefer to give a tangible object rather than money.  I'd never suggest that this feeling/belief/desire is wrong, but it's often not best.

No two mission trips or charities are the same. Some countries are easier to serve because they are geographically closer, goods are more readily available, ships or planes make multiple daily stops, economies are friendlier (low prices), and multiple other reasons.

I love that people want to send backpacks full of books to Zimbabwe. The heart for this is precious. But that will not ever make sense - and here is why: school supplies are easy to buy in Zimbabwe. Very easy. Some items are more expensive than in the USA but some are cheaper - together it all works out. To ship a SMALL 10 lb box from Franklin, TN to Zimbabwe costs us $150. Then the recipient in Zimbabwe has to pay a customs/import tax. By the time we've paid the fees, the shipping costs far exceed the value of what was in the box.

Almost everything that our Zim babies need can be purchased right there.

When our missionaries travel to Zim, we do cram as much "free stuff" in  our bags as we can. Over the years we have taken dental supplies, clothes, vitamins, medications, books, bibles, computers, printers, etc. Often we have to pay $100 for each additional piece of luggage over the airline limits. If we pay an additional $100 for a box of toothbrushes, we have spent way more than it would have cost to purchase toothbrushes at the Zim market. This is true for most things.

The exceptions to the above are (1) technology (2) medication (3) certain text books.

We cannot send the children Christmas Presents but we can send them each $10 to go shopping for their favorite hair clips, small toys, ball caps, or earbuds.  We cannot send them warm blankets but we can purchase them brand-new $30 each. We cannot send or deliver school supplies, but we can fully supply a child for $20.

Zim has nearly all of the goods but our orphanage partner simply lacks the funds to purchase them. This is straight economics. In a country with a 90% (usually higher) unemployment rate, the sad fact is that for our friends, it is nearly impossible to obtain the needed items. This is why people die for no good reason ... lack of water, lack of medication, lack of shelter. And these reasons go back to the root of why we partnered with them in the first place, even why we formed BFGO. It's so simple... they need money to buy necessities and to pay for school fees, medications and some food items.  And although we haven't shared much about the other details, we are also helping pay the salaries of the caregivers and teachers as well as the rental fees for their various shelters. (They rent 5 houses: 3 orphanage houses, 1 school and the Poultry farm).

During this Christmas season, I know how fun it is to pack boxes for Samaritans Purse, donate coats for the homeless, deliver meals to the shelters and choose an angel off the tree to provide for a vulnerable child. These are beautiful - in fact, stunningly beautiful. My family also has participated in all of these activities. It is so important to give in tangible ways and to teach your children. My kids have had fun in selecting items for those boxes and for those angels. They have gone into homes with me to deliver groceries and we've left in tears. Donating much needed funds is also a beautiful activity and it's impact shouldn't be diminished.

A financial donation online isn't quite as touchy and feely, but for organizations like ours where money does the greatest amount of good for our orphaned kiddos, your donations are almost too impactful to measure. Please consider a financial donation to BFGO during this Christmas season. We are raising money specifically for unpaid rentals and a Christmas Gift for each child - that they will select at a market in Zim next week.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Zim Baby Updates

I was just in Zimbabwe for 2 weeks and captured these cuties! They are adorable and we are honored to have them in our lives! Their needs are costly and we'd love to have a team of financial supporters to help provide their food, formula, diapers, and medical visits.

Baby Elaine

Peace (boy)

Ruva (girl below)

Tadiwa (boy below - he has extra medical needs)

Tafadzwa (boy below)

Baby Kundai (boy below - preemie with extra medical needs).

Tariro (girl below - normally smiling. :) )

Makanaka (girl below)

Munashe (boy below)

Nyasha (boy below - special emotional needs)

These kiddos have a special fund setup through our donation platform. Click HERE if you would like so specifically support their needs each month or for a one-time donation. In the drop down fund menu, please select Zim Babies. Thank you!

** There are many other needs in addition to the babies. If you'd like to help the older children transition to University or give to our greatest need fund, we'd be so grateful for your love, prayers and support.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Lawn Party for Marlena's Orphanage - Awareness & Opportunity

On The Lawn with Marly Mae 


Friends of BFGO, friends of mine and friends of the precious Marlena ...

Please join us on Saturday October 24th from 3pm - 5pm in Franklin for a lawn party. It will be important for you to bring a towel or blanket for seating. We are offering worship and uplifting music by the ridiculously talented and beautiful Marcia Ramirez. Marcia is currently on tour with Christopher Cross but is joining us on this day. You will love her voice, her heart and her stories.

Marlena, an orphan from Zimbabwe is going to be sharing her story. She has been in America for just a little over 1 year and will graduate high school in May. At that time she will return to Zimbabwe if not awarded scholarships to attend University here.

There is no cover charge for this event, however our goal is to raise awareness and raise funds for the various important needs including but not limited to 1) Marlena's tuition fees, 2) needs for her orphanage in Zimbabwe, 3) scholarship funds for orphans.  Please bring an open heart and mind. We can't wait to share BFGO with you. (Beautiful Feet Global Outreach, Inc. is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization offering orphan care and ministry to orphans.)

We will have various things for sale including t-shirts, jasper stone necklaces (these are great inspirational reminders of the Heaven we long for. See Revelation 21). We will also have some African wares straight from Zimbabwe. The cashier station can accept checks, cash and all major credit cards.

To RSVP - please go to the Mission Marlena Facebook Page and leave a comment. Also while you are there, please "like" the page.  (<-- link)  (Location: 405 Meadowgreen Drive)

May God bless you and forever keep you in the palm of His Mighty Hand. 

humbly His,
~ melissa irwin
founder / executive director

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Chickens, Babies and Goodbyes

BFGO has experienced much in the past year... great things and hard ones.

We struggled as an organization through some fundraisers. We bit our nails and gritted our teeth as our Zimbabwe Poultry Project kept getting more and more expensive. We celebrated the great news that Marlena, from Zimbabwe, gets to remain in high school here in the USA - but still without funding, and then most recently, our Zimbabwe orphanage is going through two major changes: 1) Many of the older children are completing school and aging out. A hard reality! 2) Social Welfare in Zimbabwe continues to bring babies and toddlers into the orphanage...lots of them.

Our Zim Chicken Project has finally opened for business and we are so grateful. It will take a little while for it to turn a profit for the orphanage but we are well on our way.  To recap, because it has been a long while, BFGO established a water source and electricity, and then we provided all of the funds to construct a large building that includes 3 interior chicken coops. We purchased a generator and provided for various systems to be put into place to feed and water the chickens. Someone else outside of BFGO also donated some funds and they finally have chickens. The photos below are from the day that the chickens were delivered. Please rejoice with us - this has been a long and difficult but amazing project to be part of. We owe so much gratitude to the various people who contributed approximately $16,000 of the $20,000 to complete it.

Our next big thing happening in Zimbabwe is LOTS OF BABIES!
Our orphanage partner has been flooded with babies and toddlers. Social Welfare takes in children that have been abandoned and they find placements for them in orphanages. Our older kiddos are moving out due to age and those spots are filled with precious little ones. Several of these kiddos were abandoned roadside and others found in the brush. Our youngest was placed at just 7 days old. As a result, our board member, Elaine Smith, went to Zimbabwe and spent 9 weeks caring for them around the clock and to develop a baby/toddler program. A caregiver was hired and also trained. We currently have more kiddos than the homes have room for, but that is often the African way. There is not enough money to fund their formula and diaper needs, so this is an emergent need. We've established a baby fund at our website for donations. The photos below are a few of our newest residents.

Finally, a large number of our Zim orphans are completing school this Christmas and it will be time for them to exit the program. Our orphanage director has already worked tirelessly to help find many of them jobs and placements. In fact, several of those kids are already working at markets during the night and still going to school all day, while maintaining their studies and their chores. They earn very little money, but with a 95% unemployment rate in Zimbabwe, we believe that any opportunity is valuable.  This is one of the hardest aspects to this type of work - having to let kids go, but it's mandatory per social welfare. A few of the kiddos have achieved academic excellence, and for those, we desperately want to help them go on to higher learning opportunities in Zim or abroad. 

Please consider partnering with BFGO in one of the following ways:
1). Sponsor a specific child. You can research our kiddos over at the website.
2). Don't want to sponsor a specific kiddo? You may choose our Zimbabwe Orphanage partner via the website and set up a monthly donation of any amount. Your donation will be allocated directly to their greatest needs.
3). If you believe in the work of BFGO and want to offer your general financial support, you may set up a one-time or recurring monthly donation of any amount into our Greatest Need Fund.
4). If you feel compelled to help specifically with education costs for the kids who are aging out, you may make a one-time donation, or monthly recurring of any amount into our education fund.

All of these can be established at our website by clicking onto the donate tab, decide on the amount you want to give, and then choose the fund you desire by clicking the drop down menu. It's so simple and yet so impactful. You may visit our website HERE. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to read our updates. We continue to be deeply grateful for every engaged heart. God bless your tenderness and generosity.

Melissa Irwin and the BFGO Team