Rock Africa to raise funds for ZimbabweWritten by Kevin Moore | | email@example.com
Ron and Cathy King, owners of a screen printing and embroidery in Archbold, are passionate about turning their 13 years of business experience into education for struggling entrepreneurs in southern Africa. They will host their first Fall Festival chicken barbecue at their shop Three Cord, accompanied by live music and family-friendly activities, to raise money for their volunteer group, Rock Africa.
During the past three years, Rock Africa has developed an ongoing mentoring relationship with a group of ambitious locals in Zimbabwe who believe business know-how will be the key to raising economic, education and living standards in their country.
Following a civil war in the 1970s, Zimbabwe’s history since its independence from British colonial rule has been filled with hardship. According to the CIA’s World Factbook, in 2009 Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate was 95 percent.
This January, the Kings, along with a nine-person team composed of some of their employees and other community members, will leave on their third trip to Africa to mentor and cultivate personal relationships with pastors and entrepreneurs in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare. “We’ve operated Three Cord for 13 years, and God has blessed us in this venture,” Ron said. “That’s why we’re involved in this today. We’ve really felt called to share our experience with this part of the world.” The Kings’ first trip to Africa was to Mali in West Africa, but the language barrier between the Americans and the local French and Bantu speakers proved problematic. “Mali was a rewarding experience, but we’ve found we’re best suited in Zimbabwe.”
Rock Africa’s involvement with the business and religious community in Zimbabwe is a year-round affair. “When we travel to Africa, our volunteers stay for two weeks (the Kings will stay three weeks this year) to give in-person training and have fellowship with the people there,” Kathy said. “But throughout the year we regularly communicate through Skype to continue our mentorship. We’re close to family with some of our contacts there. In fact, one young man we mentor, Rob, calls us ‘mama’ and ‘papa.’”
The Kings and their partners in Zimbabwe operate under the wisdom of the proverb: “If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.” The Zimbabwean people will accept financial assistance out of necessity, such as affordable business loans through an organization called Africa Works, but they are more interested in learning how to become self-sufficient.
“The people over there want to learn and better themselves, but they face tremendous challenges,” Kathy said. “The next generation typically can’t afford the school fees and can’t get driver’s licenses. It is difficult for them to adopt technology because of unreliable power.”
Rock Africa’s Fall Festival chicken barbecue fundraiser will take place from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 5 in Three Cord’s parking lot at 203 E. Lugbill Road. in Archbold. Live music will be performed by Saved by Grace and the Archbold Assembly of God/Templo Cristiano praise band. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/rockafrica.thewayforward.