Tony & Carol
Two years ago, Tony, David, and myself all traveled to Zambia for the very first time with a team from church. David and I knew we had a heart for Africa but didn't quite know how our heart would meet reality. We took the trip in 2014 primarily as a scouting trip to answer the questions: is this a place we can work? are these people we can partner with? should we even be here? And, it turns out we weren’t the only ones on a scouting trip. At the end of our two weeks, Tony announces he thinks he and his wife would like to move to Zambia to start an orphanage.
Fast-forward one year. We spend several days alone with Tony & Carol in Zambia sharing from our hearts — what we want to accomplish, what motivates us, what does success look like, how do we start? We walked away from those conversations knowing that together we can help each other pursue our dreams and our mission. It was walking around our neighborhood in Lusaka last May that the planning for our orphanage began. But we still didn't have a timeline of when exactly it would happen.
In late January, I received the best text message announcing Tony and Carol accepted an offer on their house!!! Quite suddenly, the orphanage went from still-dreaming to lets-make-it-happen. They set a closing date for April 1st, started packing away all their belongings, and we all kicked it into high gear to prepare for their move to Zambia.
Now they're leaving in less than 2 weeks and there are no words to describe our excitement. Of course, you may still be wondering... who the heck are these people? So I had them answer a few questions to help you get to know them!
Who are you?
Hi, I’m Carol! I was raised in Spencer, NC a small town outside of Salisbury. Tony grew up in the town of Fuquay-Varina, where we now live. Tony and I met in 1985 and it was the most wonderful thing to ever happen to Tony! :) Life has been full of fun, exciting, and unpredictable adventures ever since!
What is your vision for an orphanage?
Our vision is to give a home to kids who have no one or are in an abusive situation. We don’t like the word “orphan” - it seems so lonely. Our plan is to set up family unit homes that will house around 8 children each. Each home will house 4 boys and 4 girls with ages ranging from infant to about 16. We want to create a home environment where children will know that they are loved, where family values are learned from experience, and where kids can be kids!
The homes will be run by house moms who will take care of the children, cook, keep gardens, etc. Our desire is to see widows or abandoned women to become house moms. This may be one of the toughest parts to “get right” because their character will be the cornerstone of the home. We will have weekly meetings with the house moms - a place where the women can open up and discuss anything on their minds. It will also be a learning place for them to learn basic skills and truths.
We want to bring unity and hope to all people in Kunchubwe Village. An important priority for us is to have community-involvement in supporting the orphanage. We hope to build a playground for all kids in the community to play and to have a tutoring center where kids can come and do homework together. We believe the change demonstrated by the kids and house moms will have a major impact on the community as a whole. Our ultimate hope is to raise up a community of strong fathers and mothers, who love each other and raise their children up in love.
When was this idea born? How has it changed/developed over time?
I can remember when I was in the 6th grade, we had to write an essay about our careers. I wrote about wanting to move to Africa and work for the Peace Corps. Even at that young age, I had a love for Africa and the desire to “do something” for the people.
In 2005, I took my first trip to Tanzania, not knowing what to expect at all. In 2007, we went to Mozambique to work with orphans and in feeding stations. We came home with the desire and the knowledge that our heart was to help children in Africa. This was conflicting because we also knew that Mozambique wasn’t the right fit for us.
We took another trip to Tanzania, in hopes this would be the right place for us to start an orphanage but again it didn’t feel right. Since 2007, we’ve carried this desire but had no idea how it would all work out until Tony’s trip to Zambia in 2014.
So, you've sold your house, packed up all your belongings, and are moving to Zambia. Most people probably think you're crazy - tell us about sharing your dreams with others. What's been the most surprising reaction?
We’ve had all sorts of reactions to our dreams. Most people do think we’re crazy but everyone has been so supportive, so excited, and really want to be involved. That has been so encouraging to us, to know that we have a support system at home that are thinking about us, praying for us, and invested in what we’re doing.
What are you most excited about? What are you most apprehensive about?
We’ve been holding onto this desire for nearly a decade, so we’re most excited about taking that step and pursuing our heart. Like David and Bethany, our inspiration and motivation comes from the love of Jesus. Together, we can say one of the most exciting things about this adventure is we can give out of that abundance of love we’ve been given - to share that love with others, who may never had the chance to know His goodness.
The hardest thing for me about moving to Zambia is is leaving my sister, brother and my Boston Terrier, AJ. AJ is 13 years old and I love that little doggie to no ends. When I tell people about our new adventure, AJ is usually the first thing people ask me about. It really breaks my heart to think about leaving him. I always thought our move would be after AJ went to that endless treat bowl in the sky. Definitely, one of the hardest things has been to make arrangements for him.
To help our followers better understand a timeline, lets set some rough goals/milestones from arrival in Zambia:
- April - May: our first month there will be spent positioning and establishing ourselves in Zambia and with the villagers. We will have to secure materials, laborers, and plans for the construction begin. We hope to clear the land by mid-May and start construction as soon as possible. During the construction process, we will spend most of our times selecting the first 8 children and a house mom.
- Because our orphanage is located next to the village church Cornerstone Family Church (our church in Fuquay) has built, we hope to spend a lot of time there as well - in hopes to get acquainted with the community.
- June - August: We hope the first home will be totally complete by early July. This includes all the furnishings, placement of children and house mom. The first couple months after the first house is finished, we want to make sure everything is running smoothly. We want to see real growth in producing the family environment we’re believing for.
- Fall 2016: By the Fall of 2016 we hope to have the second house in the works. After working out a lot of the kinks in the first home, we think the process should go much quicker with the other homes.
- Spring 2017: By the end of the first year we would like to see at least 4-5 homes.
I asked Carol to join me for my unexpected trip in February. I just want to say - they are the real deal. They are passionate, loving, and hilariously fun to be around. In our weeks worth of traveling together, I never grew tired of being around Carol - because she carries with her a true love for people and an amazing ability to shake off worries and problems. I saw a woman after my own heart and capable of doing this amazing work!
Tony and Carol are leaving for Zambia in just TWO WEEKS! We have so many feelings about their departure but most-of-all we’re THRILLED! We cant wait to visit them in Mid-May and witness all the amazing progress!
We’ve had lots of questions about how to get involved to help the orphanage — we don’t have all the answers (this is a learning process for all of us) — but the answers we do have, I’m sharing next week!