Today’s Warsaw (IN) Times-Union newspaper features the current work of former GBIM missionary Jim Hocking in Africa. Here is the story, as written by one of the paper’s staff writers:
BY DAVID SLONE, Times-Union Staff Writer
Orphans, AIDS, clean water, enterprise and mass communication.
They’re the big issues Integrated Community Development International is taking on in Africa, specifically Central African Republic, initially. And Kosciusko County businesses and residents slowly are getting on board to help ICDI accomplish the big tasks before it.
Jim Hocking is ICDI director and founder. Born in Warsaw in 1954, Hocking moved to Africa with his parents when he was 15 months old. He grew up in Africa, coming back to Warsaw in 1973 after completing his last two years of high school in California. He graduated from Grace College. He married his wife, Faye, in 1976 and they went to Africa for a year, coming back so Hocking could attend Grace Seminary.
In 1984, as part of Grace Brethren International Missions, they moved to Central African Republic until December 2003. But twice during that time, they had two armed robberies in their African home. After the first one, the family came back to the United States for about nine months. After the second one – in which his son was held at gunpoint – they came back to the states and Hocking resigned from the Missions.
But Hocking wasn’t deterred from returning to Africa.
Hocking said he believes there is much he could do in Africa in the way of community development. People there are dying and the average lifespan for a man has been reduced from 45 years to 38 in Central African Republic because of AIDS, war, malnutrition and lack of clean water.
Those are also the causes for the large number of orphans in Central African Republican. There are nearly 100,000 orphans in the capital city of Bangui alone, where the total population is 600,000.
A man Hocking knew in CAR, who ran a water well drilling company, decided to give his business to Hocking to help the people in Africa get the clean water they need. Hocking knew nothing about well drilling, but the man offered to teach Hocking.
“He said he knew I could do this because I know Africa better than most people,” said Hocking.
Only 10 to 15 percent of the population of CAR has pure drinking water. Unsafe water is the world’s No. 1 killer, according to information provided by Hocking, taking the lives of more than 25,000 people each day. Preventable water-related diseases are responsible for 80 percent of all the sickness in the world.
Those are some of the reasons Hocking formed ICDI, a non-governmental, nonprofit organization, in January 2004.
With the well drilling company, Hocking got the company compound, equipment, vehicles, shop, records and “just about everything you need because in Africa, there are very few shops.”
Though Hocking has the materials, he still needs the money to run the organization. He’s contacted various local people and businesses about investing and a number of them have, he said, including Wildman Uniform, The Pill Box and Sands’ Office Equipment.
But well water drilling isn’t the only thing Hocking wants ICDI to accomplish. The organization is building an orphan care center in Bangui.
“We’re trying to take some of those kids and put them in good homes. We try to meet their health, education and love needs,” he said. It is not an orphanage, but a place where orphans can go to get some of their needs met, like notebooks for school or a bite to eat.
The Bangui orphan center will be the model for other cities across central Africa. Currently, 250 orphans are being cared for now. For $30 a month, Hocking said, a person can sponsor a child. “For $30 a month, you can save a kid’s life,” said Hocking. One dollar will provide water for one for a year.
ICDI is assisted with the orphans by Visions Trust, Colorado Springs, Colo.
“They do a wonderful job,” said Hocking.
In June, a team of 10, including fathers and sons, from Winona Lake is traveling to Africa to help build the center.
“God has provided a lot,” said Hocking. However, he said they still need about $10,000 for building supplies and tools.
Before a well is drilled in a community, classes are taught by national teachers in the areas of health care, nutrition, literacy, AIDS prevention and water usage. For the following three to six months, the community accomplishes steps to reach the goal of having a well in their community. There also is a minimal financial investment from the community.
In the Central African Republic, 13.5 percent of the population is HIV-positive, twice that of its neighboring countries, according to the 2003 UNAID estimate. The HIV-positive rate for some cities is as high as 35 percent. Eighty percent of public schoolteachers who died in 2003 died of AIDS. There is virtually no organized AIDS/HIV prevention education, especially outside Bangui. It is estimated by the USAID report that one-third of the children will have lost both parents by 2010 due to AIDS.
“These people live day to day,” said Hocking. “They don’t know what they are going to eat tomorrow.”
ICDI will work to change those figures through education.
Two other areas where Hocking said ICDI will help in Africa include short wave radio and micro-enterprise development.
Few people in CAR have access to television, telephones, Internet, telegraph systems or the post office. But most have access to radio. Radios are obtained easily and are equipped with short wave, AM and FM reception. ICDI plans to use short wave radio as a tool to continue teaching AIDS prevention, nutrition education and water sanitation and usage methods.
“That’s why we’re really going into radio,” said Hocking.
Annual income in post-war CAR is less than $200. ICDI wants to also help initiate small business enterprise in CAR that will let Central Africans provide for their own needs and those of the many orphans.
“We feel God wants us to do these things so we have a conviction” about doing it, said Hocking.
To invest in these initiatives – water well drilling, micro-enterprise development, orphan care and radio – send a tax-deductible contribution, payable to ICDI to: ICDI, 3792 N. Oakwood Drive, Warsaw, IN 46582.
For more information, call 574-527-8920; visit online at www.ICDInternational.org; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org