Hawley Spreading Hope and Love in Africa Distinguished Young Alumna
Meag-an-y! Meag-an-y! Meag-an-y!
Dozens of little voices shout the greeting to Meagan Hawley (03) the second they spot her light skin and blonde hair around the Havens.
The greeting only gets louder as she approaches the porch.
Meagan shouts back, “How are you today?” resulting in a resounding “Fine!”
That enthusiastic welcome is one of the many joys Meagan has found in the years she’s spent at the Haven on the Namwianga Mission near Kalomo, Zambia, Africa. (Almost all blonde visitors are initially “Meagany,” too).
Meagan is the medical and developmental advocate for the children there, working alongside 60 women caretakers known as “Aunties.”
They spend their days changing, bathing, feeding, nurturing, loving and praying over precious, tiny souls who have no one else to care for them.
Together, they spread hope in a country of more than half a million HIV/AIDS orphans, where lives often end much too soon. (Recent stats show an estimated 68 out of every 1,000 infants in Zambia die before age one).
It was once common practice for heartbroken, desperate and grieving families to bury live children with their mother if she died during or after childbirth.
To many, these seemingly preemptive deaths felt more humane than the alternative. Without the mother’s milk, the child would starve to death.
After many years of this, a man stepped in, scooped a crying baby out of a grave and took the baby to a local missionary, Kathi Merritt, at the Namwianga Mission.
As a generation of parents became infected with HIV/AIDS and often died, that single act of compassion led to more children finding refuge at Namwianga.
Now, 27 years later, the Haven is full of life with 74 babies and toddlers in three different homes.
The Haven focuses on home-based orphan care, providing for children in their most vulnerable time, then transitioning them back into life with their families in their home village as soon as someone is capable of caring for them.
"I went to the mission field because I wanted my days to be spent fully serving and loving and exhausting my resources."
Megan Hawley (03)
“We are living in a broken world and the decisions many people here have to face are beyond what we could ever comprehend,” Meagan said. “While we know God created family for these kids to grow up in, we do our best to allow children to grow and thrive until their families are ready to care for them.”
She’s helping reunite families at the expense of being away from her own.
It’s one of the most difficult parts of her ministry; a sacrifice felt by everyone who loves her. Still, missing precious memories with her own family is not enough to keep her in the USA.
“Luke 12:48 says, ‘From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded,’” Meagan said. “I went to the mission field because I wanted my days to be spent fully serving and loving and exhausting my resources. I feel like there is no other option than to help these kids who don’t have any family right now. Every day, I have the chance to tell them God loves them and has a plan for them.”
Making people feel loved is something Meagan often saw as an English Education major at Oklahoma Christian.
“The community at OC gave me the confidence that I could do anything I wanted to do,” Meagan said. “It was an environment where I felt loved and nurtured. When you are known and cared for, you can in turn do the same for others.”
Meagan says moving to Zambia was a big decision sparked by telling God “yes” in small ways every day. It’s the simple decision to care for someone else that can spark a chain reaction thousands of miles away.
“People who choose this type of lifestyle are just like you. They are giving God their ‘yes’ in the little things. It’s nothing special we are doing here; we’re just saying, ‘Yes,’ and we have a God who works powerfully through people,” Meagan said. “When other people give God their ‘yes,’ it helps us accomplish what we are doing here. Our callings all look different, but we are all needed.”
You can follow the work at the Haven at zambianhavenonearth.blogspot.com.
View more stories from the Fall 2013 issue of Vision magazine.