There is no age limit for volunteering and we would keep repeating this! 80 or 8, age is just a number. We came across Birds of Hope just by chance and were amazed by the work these little birdies – Emily Osley (12) and Allyson Beatty (13) had started. Their faith helped them find purpose and strength for the mission they started – bringing clean water and hope to people around the world. Emily, now 15, shares her journey with us.
In the summer of 2010, I attended a youth mission camp with my church’s youth group. We learned how to be Kingdom Workers. Kingdom Workers are people who use their talents to help others in need and therefore their actions glorify God. Speakers at the camp showed us how to be Kingdom Workers both in our communities and around the world. I was really affected when they showed us a video called “Zambia’s Song”, about the water crisis in Zambia, Africa.
People are dying because they aren’t able to drink clean water, something I am fortunate enough to consume every day. Clean water can save their lives and provide them with hope for a better future.
I believe God placed it on me to be a Kingdom Worker for the people of Zambia, so I used my talent of sewing to begin making bird ornaments from donated fabric. I found out about an organization, Active:Water, which provides wells, water filters and community training for safe drinking water in Zambia. My friend, Allyson, and youth pastor, Brooklyn, helped me start the fundraiser. We started with a goal of selling 100 birds and raise $500 for Active: Water.
We achieved our goal within a month! By talking with our church, the word began to spread in the community and we were taking orders! God definitely has provided and directed us through this journey.
After the first year, I continued Birds of Hope with the help of my family, who are the active volunteers for Birds of Hope! We registered it as an official non-profit and continued to raise funds by selling the birds locally, in farmer’s market and shops, and nationally, through the mail.
We spread the word through our facebook page, website and emails. I also speak at different churches, small groups, youth groups, and schools. The best way for people to help is by buying a bird or t-shirt, because that small donation can make a huge impact in a Zambian’s life! However people do help us in other ways like donating fabric for the birds, inviting us to events and volunteering to help in making the birds.
God also provided us with the opportunity to support another organization, Nazarene Compassionate Ministries, which provides clean water to people all around the world. To date, we have raised $43,000 for clean water projects around the world. Last summer, I was able to visit Zambia to see the clean water projects and learn more about the projects I am fundraising for. It was an incredible experience! For the future, we will continue to trust in God’s plan for Birds of Hope as we bring clean water and hope to people around the world.