Trip of a Lifetime Inspires Charity That is Saving Lives
Judy Kendall set out to travel the world and in the process found inspiration to make a difference.
Writer / Lynda Hedberg Thies
In 2007 Judy Kendall had just sent her youngest child off to college and began contemplating what the next chapter of her life would look like. Working full time at IU Health, Judy was an organizer and self-described detail-oriented person, not someone to go anywhere without a plan. But now an empty nester, she remembered her lifelong dream to travel to Africa. Eventually, she and a friend, who happened to be a native of South Africa, set off on a month-long African Safari. This was always intended to be the trip of a lifetime, but what she experienced on her trip changed her and South Africa forever.
While in South Africa, Kendall left the beaten path and wandered into the rural villages, and this is where her eyes were opened to the plight of so many African children.
Kendall’s voice cracked as she explained, “I saw things that disturbed me deeply. There was hunger like you’ve never seen here in the U.S. Kids were begging when they should have been in school. People were walking hours just to get clean water that was typically full of parasites and created sickness beyond anything you have ever known. If they did go to the emergency room in a hospital, they oftentimes did not have the facilities to accommodate those needing the treatment, so they often would lie down on the lawn of the hospital to wait. But even if they could diagnose you, they often didn’t have the skill or the medicine to treat them.”
It was on the 30-hour trip back to the United States when Kendall knew she had to raise money to help those children. She had no idea where to start, but she knew she could not return home and allow those kids to suffer or die.
The details for her effort began to materialize. When she met a clerk at the Disney store she was connected to Dr. Sula Mazimba, a Zambian cardiologist at the Kettering Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio. During a meeting with Mazimba, she expressed her desire to help an orphanage in Zimbabwe. As a native of Zambia, he agreed to share with her then names of orphanages that needed assistance. But on the drive back to Indianapolis, she decided not to wait, but to join his medical mission team. She then travelled alone to meet with Mazimba’s medical mission team. Once their medical work was done, Mazimba took her to a dozen orphanages, one of which built by Mother Teresa. She eventually decided on an orphanage because of an eight-year-old boy named Ben that captured her heart. She returned home and formed Anchor of Hope Charities as a non-profit organization dedicated to sponsor and implement educational programs for underprivileged kids in Africa. She chose to focus on Zambia because it was the poorest nation and most in need of services. With a population of more than 13 million people there were about one million that were orphaned and undereducated.
Kendall has the heart and the passion, and she’s learned through trial and error what is needed. If the students were hungry they would not be able to focus in school, so she secured daily lunches for the students. Many of the students often had to walk up to three hours to get water or to go to school — often without shoes — so she partnered with Toms to provide new shoes twice a year. The program started out helping just 24 students, but now provides new shoes for 45,000 children twice a year. She partnered with the Carmel Rotary to provide money to build wells for clean water. She provides pants for the boys and dresses for the girls and now is in contact with an organization helping to create literacy programs in their native language in Zambia. She has developed the relationships to implement the programs that she has in Africa. She said she does these things because she wants to help the children.
While the job is huge, Kendall has found the work rewarding. She has long since retired from her job at IU Health, and her former employer has provided donations, as well. She has even used her own personal income to ship supplies when in a pinch. But the infrastructure is in place and next year she will go from feeding lunch to 1,500 children every day to feeding lunch to 10,000 every day.
But there is much work to do. She rents a four-wheel drive vehicle to get to the rural areas at a cost of $110 per day. She is looking for a partnership with a local car dealership that can provide her a vehicle, which will saver her money in the long run.
There are many needs to keep a program like this going and Kendall is working tirelessly to make a difference to the children of South Africa. She has laid the groundwork and the infrastructure is in place to impact the way support is given and the way the needs are being met through Anchors of Hope Charities. Kendall’s efforts will impact lives for generations to come.
For more information, please go to www.anchorofhopecharities.org. Kendall is proof positive that you may be only one person in the world, but to one person you may be the world.