These two young boys are living at The Zion Home orphanage in Tanzania

These two young boys are living at The Zion Home orphanage in Tanzania

An ‘Olive Branch’ for children in Tanzania

A garage sale and bake sale on May 23 in Vernon will benefit children in Tanzania who are supported by The Olive Branch, a Canadian charity

The Olive Branch for Children is a Canadian charity providing services for people in one of the poorest regions of rural Tanzania.

Created by Deborah McCracken, a young Ontario woman with a master’s degree in English literature, the Olive Branch provides medical services, support, education and home care to 600 people with HIV/AIDS. It provides food for the incapacitated and seeds for the able-bodied.

McCracken has helped establish income- generating communal gardens, fish ponds, cassava farms, and as well has established 28 Montessori  preschools, widows’ groups, food security classes, and HIV/AIDS testing and education.

The Olive Branch for Children supports two homes for children living with HIV/AIDS or who have suffered extreme medical or psychological issues. The Zion Home (located in Mbeya city) and Peace Home (located in Mswiswi) are geared toward helping the most marginalized children to become empowered and become the voices of change and hope.

In addition to medical care, the children are provided with a healthy and happy environment, nutritional food and education.

The orphanage was the primary focus of McCracken’s recent talk at the Essentialist Church of Christ.

“There are 31 children, half with AIDS,” said Vera Isaac, with the Vernon church. “In an inadequate rented facility, the Olive Branch offers them a family setting, education, medical assistance and deep caring.

“Deborah described being asked by a Tanzanian government agency to take in an 11-year-old boy with serious heart abnormalities who was not expected to live. She felt the orphanage had little to offer but brought the situation to the children, explaining that for the first time she would have to decline taking a child. One of the orphans, a nine-year-old boy, said ‘We do have something to give. We can love him til he dies.’ And this they did.

“Deborah is a young woman overflowing with creativity and practical action. She uses it to solve impossibly difficult situations with the children and families she serves through the Olive Branch.”

McCracken has accumulated sufficient funds to build a permanent home for the children but lacks building expertise. To help get the project up and running, a Vernon builder has volunteered his talent and expertise.

To help support the Olive Branch building project, the Essentialist Church of Christ is holding a fundraising garage and bake sale Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at 2001-45th Ave., Vernon.

For more information on The Olive Branch, visit www.theolivebranchforchildren.org