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Chemainus woman wants your help in her efforts helping children in Africa

Marion Fahlborg poses with some of the children she has helped during her relief trips to Africa. -
Marion Fahlborg poses with some of the children she has helped during her relief trips to Africa.
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This November, Marion Fahlborg will return to Pietermaritzburg, South Africa to pick up where she left off three years ago.

The Chemainus resident is currently trying to raise more than $5,000 to help the young and the disabled.

Fahlborg said she is hoping to accomplish much with what we, in Canada, feel is so little.

“People in Canada just don’t understand how lucky we are to live here,” she said. “The people (in Africa) are so wonderful, but there’s no middle ground. You have your absolutely poor and then the rich. The rich are totally blind to the poor.

“It’s difficult to come home because the first thing you want to do is get rid of all the things you have because you feel really greedy and possessive.”

Fahlborg’s first trip to Africa took place in 2005, when she helped establish Zanini Bantwana, a ministry for children in hospitals.

“We worked primarily in the children’s wards where many of the children have no one, nothing and are palliative. Many are abandoned by their families and are left to die all alone,” she said.

“Every morning we would go in and take these big hockey bags of toys into the kids and we’d sing and dance and play with the kids, and they were so happy because they never have visitors.”

By the time she returned in 2008, Zanini Bantwana had grown to include three hospitals and volunteers were asked to assist with physical therapy. It was during this trip that Fahlborg began work with disAbility Connexion, an advocacy group for the disabled.

“If these people can’t work they have to beg for their food, they live in condemned garages and under bridges,” Fahlborg said.

Because the Canadian dollar goes so far in Africa, volunteers  have the purchasing power to provide supplies like warm clothing or repair equipment.

“I can go in there with $10 or $15 and take a wheelchair that is absolutely useless and have it repaired so that it’s in perfect condition,” Fahlborg said.

Fahlborg, 62, said she is planning to be in Pietermaritzburg by Nov. 1 and has already saved the funds for her flight and accommodations. While there, she will focus on education within the disAbility Connexion organization and continue her work with Zanini Bantwana.

“I’m not afraid, I really believe that this is what I’m supposed to do, and I’ll be safe as long as I’m careful,” she said.

A fundraising garage sale Oct. 1 at the Calvary Baptist Church from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and she is looking for donations for a chilli dinner and silent auction on Oct. 15.

Call 250-246-3924 for information.

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