An international rescue mission that started in the basement of a Mission home has earned Sue Chalkias the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal.
She was one of the Seeds of Hope founders, which runs an orphanage, school and food centre in Zambia and another orphanage in South-East Asia.
Chalkias discovered that thousands of babies are being born with antibodies for HIV, meaning that they either have the infection or have parents who were infected. They are usually orphaned within a few months, or die of the disease themselves.
But Chalkias, and her husband John, have found that compassionate care, strong prayer and good nutrition can be combined with powerful medication to give these youngsters a chance at a productive life and a quality education.
Chalkias’ altruistic efforts started 15 years ago when she and a friend decided to raise money by baking pies and collecting bottles. Her group of moms raised $23,000 to help establish the Agape Home in northern Thailand.
In 2000 she and John saw a need in Africa so re-focused their efforts on Zambia. With the support of Cedar Valley Mennonite Church and Northside Church they have been able to establish the Buseko Home and Grace Academy, a boarding school for 120 children. They also run three feeding programs.
“We received more than $100,000 through the Rotary Clubs in Mission,” said Chalkias. “Saving the kids is the best thing about this. Thin, broken, emaciated and dying children are brought to us and within a year many of them are healthy and thriving.”
Some of the first children to be helped by Seeds of Hope are now graduating from high school and are planning further education to become doctors and professionals.