About Arise Dinner
If you’ve been following us for a little bit, you know that we love Arise Africa and are big fans of all that they’re doing in Zambia for a large population of kids in need. In the spring, we got to celebrate crawfish boil style and inform Fort Worth about the mission of Arise, and a couple of weeks ago, we got an even closer look into the stories and staff of this tight-knit organization. Arise’s Zambian staff members came to America for a couple of weeks, making it possible for them to offer first-hand testimonials about the kids in their care and ground level work they do.
The space’s decor set the mood for an elegant evening dedicated to the people and culture of Zambia. The tables were lined with authentic African chitenge, a fabric worn as customary, every day clothing in rural parts of Southern Africa. The bold, bright fabric was accented by simple floral centerpieces and tea light candles. Each place setting featured a handmade chitenge pouch stuffed with Arise merchandise, a biography card that introduced guests to Arise’s Zambian staff members, and a menu featuring options for the evening’s three course meal. From sweet potato soup to butter cake, it was impossible to make a wrong decision when ordering!
As dinner was served, the most important and moving part of the night began. Alissa Rosebrough, Arise Africa’s CEO, and four Zambian staff members spoke about the organization at large. The presentation included shocking statistics as well as personal stories, and each Zambian had the opportunity to share a powerful story from his or her experience with the kids of Arise Africa. These stories were both heartbreaking and compelling all at the same time, and they were each laced with the hope that Arise’s presence is infusing throughout the country of Zambia. The city of Lusaka, Zambia desperately needs people who are dedicated to the vulnerable children in their midst, people who are willing to sacrifice much in order to serve children affected by absent parents and disease, and people who care about children’s holistic healing and well being. These exact people are the ones who held microphones in front of a crowd that night, spilling over with an intangible joy that compels them to show up for these children day after day.
Among many stories shared, one was particularly moving and seemed to accurately encompass Arise’s heart behind their work. Albinism is a disease that affects one’s coloring and pigmentation in their skin, eyes, and hair, making those affected by the disease obviously different than others. In a society where albinism automatically classifies people as outcasts and dangerous, the people of Arise chose to speak up, challenging that toxic norm. They willingly took a young girl affected by albinism into their care, choosing to associate, provide for, and unconditionally love her as their own. In their eyes, her differences in appearance don’t disqualify her inherent dignity. In fact, the negative narrative proclaimed by Zambian society regarding albinism served as even more incentive to provide this young girl a home and a family. Before being in safe hands equipped to serve, nurture, and love her, her identity was rooted in the fact that she was unwanted and dangerous to those around her. However, because of Arise Africa’s willingness to engage with others that are neglected by most, she can now rest in a new identity — she is accepted and loved exactly as she is, and she will always have a family to come home to.
There are a countless number of kids who have had extremely similar experiences as a result of Arise’s existence and mission in Zambia, and we are in awe of how fruitful their work is. We are grateful to get to work alongside of them in efforts to increase their impact for good, and we can’t wait to hear how all of Zambia will be changed because of the faithfulness of Arise’s staff members, both domestically and around the world.