Gala raises funds for Zimbabwe mission

PHOTOS PROVIDED Members of 2 Seconds or Less and residents of Zimbabwe work to plant a sustainable garden to help feed locals.

Members of the Lycoming Baptist Church helped take on the fight to end malnutrition in Zimbabwe by raising just over $10,000 at the fourth annual Silent Auction Gala, on Nov. 4 to benefit 2 Seconds or Less.

“We are honored to be a part of this,” said Jack Delaney, care pastor of the Montoursville-based church. “We fell in love with this project when they first came to the church.” He added that he was not surprised at the generosity of the members of the church, adding his church was very giving.

Delaney said his church, 4980 Lycoming Mall Drive, Montoursville, enjoyed working with the duo of Christie Heimbach and Kelsey Hare, who founded 2 Seconds or Less in 2012 when they were just 19 years old.

According to Heimbach, there were two specific reasons the mission was formed. The first was “to break cycles of poverty through the creation of educational gardens at schools in Zimbabwe.” The second was “to give U.S. students opportunities for global engagement that unifies and builds bridges between cultures, as well as grows their capacity for empathetic and intentional leadership through Student Vision Trips abroad.”

Hare, a resident of Lancaster, said she met Heimbach while attending Messiah College. Heimbach is a 2010 graduate of Hughesville High School and both shared a passion for the people of Zimbabwe.

In 2012, the two of them decided to take a leap of faith, with another friend, two backpacks and several granola bars and travel to the African country with just a single contact — the phone number of a man who may or may not be in the country on the day Hare and Heimbach arrived.

“We were very inexperienced,” Hare said. Her granola bars had been stolen along the way. “We just had a single phone number and we called it when we arrived.” She explained that efforts had been made to connect with non-profit organizations on the ground but they didn’t pan out like the two had hoped.

After calling the phone number, the two ended up in the home of Patrick Makokoro and his wife, Chenayi. Makokoro is founder of the Nhaka Foundation, which is based in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe.

“Nhaka means inheritance” in the local language said Makokoro, who spoke at the gala. “I wanted to make sure that I was leaving something for the orphans and children of Zimbabwe.” He explained he worked for non-profit organizations handing out food, clothes and medicine to people in need, but he wanted to do more.

He started Nhaka to teach children how to grow food in gardens, develop an understanding of nutrition and have access to proper healthcare and education. He believes that by empowering children in educational ways and nutritional means, they will become healthy and self sufficient.

However in 2012, Makokoro wondered if he was the only one working to improve the lives of children.

“I’ve been praying for a sign that there were other young people in the world willing to step out in faith for the children of Zimbabwe,” he said. “And two weeks later, they showed up.” He called both Hare and Heimbach miracles.

Hare explained that Makokoro showed them around to the schools and introduced them to teachers and administrators.

Moved by what Hare and Heimbach saw, they in turn started 2 Seconds or Less. The name “2 Seconds or Less,” Hare said, comes from the fact it takes to two seconds or less to make a change in your life.

Soon after, the two began to work with Makokoro’s Nhaka Foundation. Just recently, the Student Vision Trips have proven successful. Hare said students from the Lancaster area, where the mission is based, already have been to Zimbabwe.

Delaney, at the end of the gala, announced that he and his granddaughter, Jackie, would be going in July 2018. He said every dollar that the Lycoming Baptist Church invested went straight to the mission. He quipped that Hare and Heimbach are paid “not much more than what they would be paid working at McDonald’s.” He said the two ladies do this out of love and care for the children of Zimbabwe.

“They feed them physically and they feed them spiritually,” said Delaney.

Hare said both she and Heimbach appreciate what Lycoming Baptist Church has done for 2 Seconds or Less.

“Pastor Jack has been amazing,” she said. “And this church has watched us grow from two inexperienced 19 year olds to this. And money raised at this gala funds a significant part of our budget.”

Heimbach echoed her appreciation to the members of Lycoming Baptist Church.

“They have been our biggest supporters,” she said.

Makokoro echoed his appreciation to the pastor and the church. He said that he took a step of faith coming to America.

“My wife sent me off with $10 in my pocket and I still have $6,” he said with a laugh.

Yet, during a conversation about his mission, several members of the church walked up to him and handed him money to help fund his trip while he is here in America.

At one point he fought back tears so he could continue to talk.

“Every day,” he said. “I hope to work myself out of a job.” Meaning, once the children of Zimbabwe are on the right path, his work is complete. In the meantime, he said he is grateful for the kindness of Hare and Heimbach and the members of the Lycoming Baptist Church.

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