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International Children's Programs

AIDS Orphans

The AIDS epidemic has devastated sub-Saharan Africa. Zambia, formerly Northern Rhodesia, is one of Africa’s poorest nations and one of the countries hardest hit by this epidemic. Societal moirés, polygamy, unemployment, poor education, and a financially strapped health care system have all played a role in the spread of the disease. It is estimated that 40 per cent of adults between the ages of 15 and 40 are HIV positive in Zambia. Grandparents and aunts often struggle to raise the family’s children orphaned by AIDS. In many instances, however, the extended families are either too poor or too weakened by the disease to offer needed support. The Kalingalinga Community School in urban Lusaka is a school supported by the Catholic Church through the Sisters of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary. These sisters and lay teachers work tirelessly to educate, and feed the children. Every available dollar goes to essentials and there is very little left for new clothing or recreation equipment. Most of the children have never had a new shirt or pair of shorts and have never played with good sports equipment. Through the generous donations of Kramer Sporting Goods in Santa Monica, Marymount High School, Pacific Palisades High School, the American Youth Soccer Organization and the Galaxy Soccer Club, the Friends of Vision Foundation provides clothing and recreation equipment for over 1000 children. In addition, the Foundation has raised funds for the construction of new classrooms at the Kalingalinga School. The Friends of Vision Foundation is committed to continuing its support of the needs of these special children through the coming years.


In addition to clothing, educational supplies and funding for classrooms and housing, the Friends of Vision Foundation has been able to provide thousands of dollars worth of recreational equipment to poor children both in Namibia and Zambia. These soccer and play balls were donated by Kramer Sporting Goods in Santa Monica, California.


Sister Marilyn with the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary and Megan Colvard delivering clothing to children at the Kalingalinga Community School in Zambia.


The Friends of Vision Foundation through donations from a number of organizations in greater Los Angeles was able to provide clothing and recreation equipment for over 1000 children in Africa.


Funds from the Foundation are helping to build new facilities for orphaned and disadvantaged children in Zambia.

Visually Impaired Children

The Friends of Vision Foundation provides educational equipment to The School for Visually Impaired Children in Windhoek, Namibia. Namibia is a small nation in the Southwest of Africa with very limited resources for its programs in special education. The educational and health workers with the Minister of Health and Social Services of Namibia learned of the activities of the Friends of Vision Foundation and requested help in obtaining a variety of educational tools for its new school for the visually impaired. At the direction of the teachers of the school, the Foundation provided devices for teaching and writing Braille, optical and video magnifiers, talking calculators, and talking watches for the children of the school. During three visits to the School over the past six years, the Foundation’s director, Caitlin Colvard, has conferred with the school's teachers to identify and prioritize the school’s needs. Equipment has been purchased for the School from organizations providing services to the blind located in South Africa. The Foundation looks forward to continuing its support of this important facility.


Caitlin Colvard and Dr, Helena Ndume, Director of the Blindness Prevention Project in Namibia, with students at the School for Visually Impaired Children in Windhoek.


Caitlin Colvard is shown with Dr. Libertine Amanhila, Minister of Health for the nation of Namibia, and a visually impaired student, who is using a new talking calculator for the first time.


The Foundation provides special educational equipment for the visually impaired students. This video device enlarges print more effectively than simple magnifiers and helps children with partial vision to read ordinary printed material.


The children at the School for the Visually Impaired develop a sense of community, learning to help and support one another. A child, who can see very little, is seen guiding those who see less well to classes.

Disabled Children

The Friends of Vision Foundation provides support for schools for disabled children in both Namibia and Zambia. The Cheshire Home for Disabled Children in Katima, Namibia, and the St. Muluba’s School for Disabled Children in southern Zambia are facilities that offer extended care and education to severely handicapped children from these two poor nations. After visiting these facilities, Caitlin and Megan Colvard began collecting new clothing and athletic equipment for every child at each school. At the Cheshire Home physical therapy equipment has been provided by the Foundation for children with contractures.


Megan Colvard with one of the students at St. Muluba School for Disabled Children in southern Zambia. Among its many activities, The Friends of Vision Foundation provides clothing, recreational, and physical therapy equipment to schools serving poor children in sub-Saharan Africa.

Preschool for Disadvantaged Children

Poor children living in Africa, especially those orphaned by the AIDS epidemic, face many challenges. Staying fed and out of harm’s way is difficult. Obtaining an education without the support of caring adults is virtually impossible. Kalingalinga Community School in Lusaka, Zambia, run by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary, serves as a haven for poor and orphaned children. While the focus of the School is education, the basic needs of shelter, food and clothing are also met. The Sisters and lay teachers work hard to give all children basic English skills before First Grade begins. Many children who come to the school speak only local dialects when they arrive. The Umoyo Center, which means peace and serenity in the local dialect, serves as a “preschool” for these children. Unlike preschools in the U.S. the ages of the children range from 5 to 10 years of age. Older children without basic English skills are taught in a different setting.


Caitlin Colvard with one of the classes of children at the Umoyo Center. The goal of the Center is to give all preschool children some English skills before First Grade begins. Many children who come to the school speak only local dialects when they arrive. The Sisters and lay teachers try to give the preschool children a strong enough foundation in English to allow First grade classes to be taught mostly in English.


While the focus of the Kalingalinga Community School is education, the basic needs of shelter, food and clothing are also met. The children are well nourished and loved, but conditions are Spartan. The” menu of the week”, which seldom changes from week to week, says a lot about life for the children, sisters and teachers at the school.


Caitlin discovers that children’s yard games are the same all over the world. “The hand-clap games they like to play are just like the one’s we did in preschool,” Caitlin observes. “The only difference is that these kids are much better at them than we were.”


Preschool children at the Center learn many things, including basic hygiene. Here children learn to wash their hands after recess before returning to class.

Empowerment Programs

Working with the Sisters of the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, stationed in Zambia, the Foundation has helped to start a cottage industry that employees local women who sew clothing and school uniforms for orphans and other very poor children. Throughout Africa, an influx of used clothes from the U.S. has largely destroyed local textile and clothing industries. Funding through the Foundation for the local manufacture of clothing helps in a small way to restore this industry. The funding provides badly needed jobs, fosters financial independence for women, and brings cash into the local economy. Most importantly, access to free uniforms allows poor students to attend public schools where uniforms are required but financially beyond the means of many children.


The Friends of Vision Foundation funding provides free uniforms for many orphaned children in Zambia. Access to uniforms allows poor students to attend public schools where uniforms are required but financially beyond the means of most orphaned children.

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