Arelene Leduc is on a quest to find her “passion.”
That process has been like a proverbial light bulb turning on. “Children are my passion,” says the Campbell River resident.
Her challenge has been the realization that her passion was meant to unfold in the shape of a mission to the continent of Africa to save and nurture orphans in Malawi.
Using her own resources Leduc has established a fledgling orphanage on the outskirts of Blantyre, a city of 728,000 considered the commercial capital of Malawi, a peaceful country by African standards.
The Chikondi One Heart Angels Orphanage opened in July and is home to twin four-year-old girls, Shakila and Fidess, found starving in a settlement that was a two days journey away. Chikondi means “love” in the Chiciwa language.
“These two girls are our angels. When we found them they were in such a state of malnutrition that they were not expected to survive.”
Leduc says the orphanage is registered with Revenue Canada as a non-profit society. Now, she is seeking the help of this community to grow her orphanage into a thriving compound that will provide food, medicine and education for 100 children in the next two years.
On Sept. 8, Leduc is having a fundraising dance at the Thunderbird Hall. She is hoping to raise $30,000 that will help equip the orphanage with everything from bedding to mosquito nets. Leduc says 100 per cent of the money goes to the children.
“My journey started two years ago when I travelled to Lilongwe, Malawi to volunteer for a month at an orphanage that housed 69 children,” Leduc says. “Words cannot describe the feelings I experienced spending time with the children playing, giving the gift of my time unconditionally.
“The joy, love and peace I felt everyday … I knew in my heart that I wanted to open my own orphanage in Africa.”
Leduc returned to Malawi last year and spent three months visiting various orphanages. “When you experience the poverty there, you’re never the same,” she says. She is planning a third “mission” journey to Malawi in October.
The fundraiser on Sept. 8 starts at 7 p.m. and features two local bands. The $25 ticket includes a BBQ.