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Into Africa: Local Family Spreads Love to Zambian Children

Into Africa: Local Family Spreads Love to Zambian Children

By April Russell

For most kids, a summer vacation to Africa sounds like a dream come true. But when Texarkana native Christy Paddock decided to take her two daughters on a missions trip to Zambia, Africa, there was much more in store for them than wild safaris and exotic adventures. 

Christy and her daughters Mary Claire (15) and Sarah Jane (13) set off for a week of missions work last summer after a friend told her about a Dallas-based organization called Family Legacy Missions International. Family Legacy is a Christian organization that works to meet the needs of impoverished and vulnerable children in Zambia, where more than a million children are living as orphans. Nearly half the population of Zambia is made up of children under the age of 14, most of whom live in poverty with little access to basic resources such as healthcare. 

Christy knew she wanted to take her daughters on a missions trip, and after learning about Family Legacy’s Camp Life program, a week-long day camp for needy Zambian children, she knew the moment was right. Several rounds of vaccines and training sessions later, the Paddocks arrived at the Camp Life compound ready to meet their assigned campers.  

Camp Life volunteers are responsible for groups of around 10 boys or girls during the week, and even Christy’s youngest daughter, Sarah Jane, chose to have her own group of 4- and 5-year-old girls.  

The Paddocks spent the week getting to know their girls.  Though nervous on the first day at camp, by the middle of the week the children were running with open arms, eager to hug their camp leaders. Lunches were made up of a couple of slices of bread, a piece of fruit and some juice – a feast for children who often do not know where their next meal will come from.  

Even with the joyful embraces, Christy did her best to prepare her girls to hear things they had never heard before, heartbreaking stories about the day-to-day lives of children in Zambia.  One day on a bus ride through town, Christy said she looked over to see Mary Claire looking out the window in tears as a drunk Zambian man beat a small child. Mary Claire wanted to help the child, but it was up to Christy to explain that they were not there to rescue every individual but to help bring change to the culture, starting with their Camp Life groups.  

Mary Claire took her mother’s words to heart and did all of the legwork required to submit cases for four of her 6- and 7-year old girls, with the hopes that they would be taken out of dangerous living situations and sent to school.  

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After a week of living in a foreign country, early mornings and late nights, barely any time to sit down for a break, and constant reminders of the harshness of life in Zambia, the Paddocks are going back for more.  

Last year’s Camp Life session embraced the theme of “Faith to Move Mountains.”  Each camp leader left with the promise to pray for each of their children after the end of camp, and for the Paddocks, at least one of their prayers was answered.  A phone call in November revealed that one of the girls Mary Claire submitted for a case review would be removed from her home and placed in the safety of a Family Legacy school – truly an answered prayer.  

Christy said taking her daughters to Zambia was the best thing she has ever done with her children, and she has been able to see a lasting change in both young girls in the way they view the world and people around them.  And, all three Paddocks will get to experience it all over again when they return to Camp Life in Zambia this summer.

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