Wheels for Willard
by Willard Ndlovu, Captain –
Following is a story written by Captain Willard Ndlovu, stationed at an Army camp in Africa. Last summer he visited the Golden State Division and its Camp Redwood Glen in Scott’s Valley, Calif. As a result of his visit, Golden State divisional headquarters and several corps donated money so that he could buy an ambulance for his appointment.
“Masiye”—the name of the Army’s camp in Zimbabwe— means “let’s go forward” in the Ndebele language.
Golden State Divisional Commander Major Joe Posillico recently commented on Ndlovu’s time at Camp Redwood Glen. “His summer with us was as much of a learning experience from him to us as it was for him. He also had the opportunity to visit several of our corps on his weekend breaks.
In the process, we learned a lot about his country and the needs of the Army there. Currently, there are many challenges and the turmoil in Zimbabwe is causing a good deal of concern. In talking with him as to how we can assist with his program back home, the need for the ambulance came up. It really is not much more than a pickup truck with canopy, designed as an ambulance that would allow the camp to transport children suffering with HIV and other medical disabilities to the hospital and clinics and back.
We had several corps in the division as well as our Service Extension area give funds for the project. These funds were then matched by THQ project funds and sent on to make the purchase. This enabled the camp to replace the vehicle that was broken down and will get these children the medical care they need.”
For the last seven years I have been stationed as the deputy director at The Salvation Army Masiye Training Camp (SAMAC) in Zimbabwe, founded in 1998 to address the psychological and social needs of orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS.
Based on the Outward Bound concept, the wilderness camp occupies 1,853 acres of land. Through various experiences and challenges, the camp’s major objective is to allow participants to discover their full potential and achieve self confidence, restoration of hope, team building, problem solving, healthy social energy, spiritual formation, building of resiliency and bereavement counseling.
For me, this appointment is a special assignment from God. I have been both challenged and filled with joy as I witness the change in children who arrive brokenhearted and leave 10 days later having found a new hope in Christ.
The 2006 Report on Global Aids Epidemic shows that there are an estimated 1.7 million people living with HIV in Zimbabwe, including adults and children. The number of AIDS orphans—children ages 7 and under—is over 1.1 million. Government hospitals cannot cope with the overwhelming number of patients needing treatment. SAMAC runs a home-based care program in an attempt to care for some of these patients at home.
The camp compound also houses a health clinic, with three qualified staff members and a nurse aide. It serves a population of more than 6,000 people, not including the children at camp; the nearest health center is 50 kilometers away and the main hospital, 70 kilometers. The clinic has significantly improved the health of people in this community. Children can now be immunized, and more education and outreach are taking place. Unfortunately, the clinic had no emergency vehicle to transport patients to the main hospital.
Camp Redwood Glen—California
In 2006, I read in a Salvation Army magazine about overseas camps. I became interested in how the camps are conducted so I went to several websites, where I learned that many camps run programs similar to ours. Hoping to visit one of these camps to see first-hand its operation, I applied to Camp Redwood Glen, which has existed for more than 60 years. I received a placement as a counselor in 2006. It was a difficult process, but with help from leaders in the Zimbabwe Territory, Redwood Glen Camp staff and the Golden State Division, I was able to obtain the required documents.
At Camp Redwood Glen I had many experiences and brought lessons back, many of which are being used at our camp now. The spiritual lessons were my favorite as they were a real blessing. I met new friends, co-workers in Christ. I was also involved in conducting Sunday services around the Golden State Division, thanks to Major Joe Posillico, divisional commander, and his DHQ team.
In addition, I had the opportunity to attend the Western Youth Institute (WYI) as a delegate and family camp, where I met Majors Wayne and Trish Froderberg, service extension director and leadership development and missions director, respectively. We shared and prayed about the situation in Zimbabwe, including the clinic that had no vehicle to ferry people to the main hospital in an emergency.
Word of our need spread throughout the division, and in God’s time our prayers were answered. Corps and other groups in the Golden State Division gave generously towards the goal of acquiring an ambulance. The Western Territory finance council approved a matching grant, and the dream became a reality.
The gift of an ambulance is vitally important to the camp and our community. The clinic does not have a doctor and complicated illnesses have to be attended by physicians at the main hospital. Maternity deliveries used to be an issue when we had no vehicle to rush these women to the main hospital. For all emergencies, we are now assured that patients can get help. There is now improved health and a reduced mortality rate as a result of access to the main hospital. The clinic staff is also able to reach other areas to educate and sensitize people about AIDS.
Personally, what was a burden before is now a prayer answered by God. When we offer these health-related services to our community, it is part of ministry—people realize that it is not just a camp, but see Christ through the camp’s services.
We would like to thank the Golden State Division and the Western Territory for this gift. Finally, thank you, all who have contributed towards the purchase of the ambulance. It is filling a need. God bless you!
The Salvation Army’s Masiye Training Camp is part of Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network. Winfrey recognized the life-changing work of the camp. A synopsis from the Angel Network website states: “Many of these orphaned children return home to raise their brothers and sisters. While the Masiye camp teaches them how to take care of their families, they most of all learn to believe in themselves.” Donations made through the Angel Network enable many more orphan children to attend the camp.
More information about the camp is available at www.masiye.com and at www.salvationarmyzim.org/our-services/masiye-camp.