Facilitating possibilities. Encouraging grassroots initiatives. Fostering self sufficiency. Nurturing hope.
Many thought it was (im)possible for a single woman to leave her full time job, family and her old life behind, to move to Chingola Zambia.
Many expected she'd be home in a year, but a village called Mbayi desperately needed her ongoing assistance:
It is Wendy’s compassion, determination, resilience, and most of all her rock solid faith that is used daily to make an impact on the lives of those who have come to love her and call her “Mama Wendy.”
It began on a mission trip to Zambia in 2006 when Wendy felt an immense tug for the most vulnerable Africa. In 2007 she went to Kenya and heard the call to return to Africa but didn’t know how, or when. She let it percolate in her heart until July 2010 when she left everything behind and moved to Chingola, Zambia. It was there that she was introduced to the great need in the remote village of Mbayi (45 minutes from Chingola), and has devoted four years to bringing economical sustainable development to the village.
In February 2013, Wendy signed an agreement with Missionary Ventures Canada, a registered charitable organization (#137405619RR0001), partnering with them to host work teams to Mbayi, Zambia. All donations are receipted by Missionary Ventures Canada annually.
So how can a Canadian social worker make a difference?
By loving . . . by listening . . . by networking . . . and by inspiring.
In short—by opening everyone’s hearts to the possibilities!
Visiting Zambia and Kenya opened Wendy’s eyes to the oneness of the human family. She came to realize that regardless of where we live, we all share the same hopes, dreams, and frustrations. We all want to eat, have a home, be cared for when we are sick, be comforted when we grieve, and see our kids fulfill their potential.
Wendy realized something else too, and this is what drives her Vision for a vibrant healthy community in Mbayi and Chingola areas: That whether here or there, people want to shape their destiny. They want to work and be part of bringing to pass their vision of themselves as strong, self-sustaining families and communities.
Wendy is in Zambia not to give a “hand out” or even a “hand up,” but rather to be a conduit that releases the possibilities in the hearts of the most vulnerable and marginalized.
Wendy’s dream is to see an impoverished, forgotten people become healthy, productive, self sustaining citizens—and as (im)possible as that may seem, she has already been instrumental in bringing about incredible change.
According to Unicef 2011 statistics for Zambia:
With these daunting statistics before her, Wendy believes that one step at a time a difference can be made. She lives in Chingola and travels to the village of Mbayi, and within the sprawling Chingola area. Chingola is a city in Zambia’s Copperbelt Province, the country’s copper-mining region, with a population of 157,340 (2008 census).
The community of Mbayi is a remote area north east of Chingola in the Copperbelt Province of Zambia. Once a forest reserve it is now a resettlement area. It has a population of about 5,000 settlers who are subsistence farmers. They are a people living in extreme poverty suffering a lack of access to clean/safe water, and medical services. There is no electricity, no road network, nor a police post.
Wendy has seen the possibilities, and with the help and support of her Canadian friends, along with her Zambian comrades, the difference continues to be made.
Determination, faith, and commitment are the cornerstones that allow what seems (im)possible to become possible. By building local relationships and networking, many of the people who come to Wendy for help are lead to self sufficiency. Lives are being saved, families are finding relief in their poverty, and new hope is spreading like wild fire as “Mama Wendy” facilitates the possibilities of partnering together to bring life, love and joy.
Wendy featured in Mississauga News.
Wendy arrived in Chingola, and established in her heart that Mbayi would be the village she would focus on. (blog post)
Maize seed and fertilizer provided for a community maize field that would be ready to harvest in March 2011. The words of gratitude spoken were: “now we will have enough food next year and won’t have to worry about starvation.” (blog post)
Tuesdays are declared “Clinic Day.” It is a 2 and 1/2 to 3 hour walk to the nearest health clinic and so many are too sick to make the journey. The health personnel declare that lives were being saved! (blog post)
Relief food in the form of mealie meal (a flour made from corn) is being provided to local orphans and disabled elderly as funds are received. (blog post)
A chicken business is launched to empower women. Two hundred broilers are raised every 6 weeks. People are astonished that an impoverished place like Mbayi—without electricity—can not only raise chickens, but chickens of the best quality! (blog post)
Sweaters provided to every child at the Mbayi Primary School. (blog post)
12 young goats purchased for the purpose of breeding. These goats provide meat (good tasting) and manure (excellent fertilizer for vegetable gardens). (blog post)
A process of taking elderly with eye problems—glaucoma and cataracts—to the Eye Clinic in Kitwe begins. Sight saving procedures are performed. (blog post)
Generous donation received from Streetsville Rotary Club provided the Mbayi community with their first hummermill to grind their maize crop. No longer do they have to lug heavy sacks of maize a day’s trip to be ground—now they service the needs of the community and it provides income to the households that maintain the hummermill. (blog post)
Health post planning begins. Wendy asked the question—after many months of transporting the sick to clinic and hospital—“How can we bring Health Care into Mbayi?” A Clinical Officer came to Mbayi and gave a presentation of the process required. (blog post)
Container from Canada arrives. Blankets and sweaters distributed to the elderly. (blog post)
Inoculations provided for a van full of moms and babies. (blog post)
Step 1 of building the health post has begun with clearing the land of stumps. Villagers will provide the labour, and the government will provide iron roofing sheets, window, door frames, and staffing. A wonderful partnership has begun with the government. (blog post)
Orchard with banana and nut trees planted close to Mbayi Primary School for the children.
Container arrives with clothes for women and children and toys.
Foundation for the health post is dug.
A football team is formed so that youths living in poverty can compete in a sport in which they yearn to participate. Uniforms and balls are sent from Canada and money is donated to purchase soccer boots. (blog post)
Rich in iron, calcium and protein—a millet field is planted as another initiative to develop sustainable agriculture and support the most vulnerable in Mbayi. Maize seed and fertilizer continues to be purchased for the most vulnerable. (blog post)
Opening of Agape Land School in Chabanyama—for street children, the poor or orphaned. School fees are subsidized through donations and text books, and educational toys were provided by generous gifts for the start up of the school. (blog post)
Mamies Christmas Party, second year, again sponsored by the Moms Group at Caledonia Presbyterian Church. With cake and other refreshments—as well as toys for children (sent from Canada), and the incredible gift of a chicken for each family—the birth of Jesus is celebrated. (blog post)
Wendy is the first woman invited to join the Chingola Rotary Club.
Step 2 in building the health post. A work team of 6 from Canada partner with the village for 2.5 weeks to hand make 3200 bricks to build a health post. Next will be the pouring of the foundation. (blog post)
Chingola district Government commits to partnering with Wendy and the village of Mbayi in the building of the health post. District Commissioner George Sichula, District Community Medical Officer Dr. Sakulanda, Community Development Officer Dorothy Chileshe, and Honourable Deputy Mayor Titus Tembo have all endorsed the health post project, and meet with Wendy regularly. His Honourable Titus Tembo even donated and personally delivered oil to the work site for the production of the mud bricks.
A sewing machine is provided to the Mbayi Women's Club to empower them in a tailoring business. Funds from the Streetsville Rotary Club.
Bee keeping business established. Forestry Dept. was hired to train 10 villagers how to start a bee keeping business. The government donated 11 beehives, then a donation from Streetsville Rotary Club provided clothes, boots, and start up supplies. (blog post)
The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International has named Wendy Bourgon a Paul Harris Fellow in appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world.
Wendy on hiatus from her work in Zambia. She plans to return in fall 2017.
Support Wendy so that she can continue to care for the needy in Mbayi and Chingola. It costs about $1,500 a month for Wendy to stay in Zambia. With the support of like-minded people, together we can make a difference, and enable Wendy to continue caring for those who need it most.
Use your credit card or PayPal account to give one-time or on a monthly basis.
Make checks payable to:Missionary Ventures Canada
Please add a separate note in the envelope indicating the donation is for Wendy along with your mailing address.
Do not write anything in the memo field of the cheque.
You can raise funds to help care for the village of Mbayi.
We are thankful for the support we have received from individuals and groups who have organized fundraisers in their communities to support this mission. Some have organized Garden Parties, some have organized Silent Auction, some have organized Bake Sales and Garage Sales. There is a wide range of activities that can raise funds.
If you are interested in helping us by organizing a fundraiser, contact Vera Catani at email@example.com to discuss how we can make that happen!
Partner together with the village of Mbayi to accomplish a variety of work projects.
Through Missionary Ventures Canada, Wendy hosts work teams that will make an impact on the community and in the lives of the people she cares for. Trips are usually two weeks in length, and team sizes can vary from 6–12 people.
You can read more about the experiences of the 2013 team and their project on the blog.