A number of Bay Area churches and community organizations have rolled out the red carpet in support of Mother of Peace (MOP) orphanage, located in Mutuka, Zimbabwe, a part of Africa that has been hit hard by HIV/AIDS deaths, leaving many children orphaned and often having to fend for themselves.
In 1994, two South African sisters, Jean and Stella Cornneck – lovingly known as Mama Jean and Sister Stella, were inspired to establish the orphanage. Alternating visits each year, Sister Stella recently came to the Bay Area on an annual fundraising mission.
Trained as nurses in England, the Cornneck sisters established Mother of Peace as a safe refuge for the children of Zimbabwe. Lacking proper medical treatment and medication in its first years, Mother of Peace was utilized as a hospice where Jean and Stella cared for the children while they were dying. A cemetery sits next to the orphanage, full of the children who have died.
The fundraising relationship between Mother of Peace and Bay Area churches started when the orphanage was brought to the attention of the Allen Temple Ministries by the late Dr. Robert Scott. According to a UNICEF report in 1998, Zimbabwe had the world’s highest number of orphans, in proportion to its population, with 1 in 4 children orphaned as a result of AIDS.
In late 2000, Scott and other church leaders attended the International AIDS Conference in South Africa and travelled to Zimbabwe to meet Mama Jean and Sister Stella at the orphanage.
Dr. Scott and the other Ministry leaders were moved by the significant needs of the children and the overwhelming commitment of Jean and Stella. The delegation formally petitioned Allen Temple to adopt the orphanage.
With the support of Bay Area churches that has developed since that the forming of that international bond, the orphanage has been able to improve medical treatment, medications and living conditions. Sister Stella reports that the fatality rate has significantly reduced.
The sisters’ visits each year to the Bay Area are an extension of their mission. Cornneck arrived in mid November with a full itinerary, speaking at many fundraising appearances, ending in mid December.
“I feel like an African princess,” Sister Stella said, speaking at a gathering of the South Bay Area chapter of the Links Incorporated, an international, not-for-profit corporation, where President Mary Cooke presented the orphanage with a check for $1,000.
“I feel like God put us here for a purpose,” Stella said, explaining how Mother of Peace created an on-site school because their children received failing grades in public school due to the stigma of being associated with the orphanage.
Stella also talked about how they are establishing a farm. They have enough chickens and a cow for milk to feed the children and plan to acquire more chickens and another cow, hoping to sell eggs and milk to become self sufficient.
Supporting churches include City of Refuge UCC, Allen Temple Baptist Church, Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church, St. Lawrence O’ Toole/St. Cyril Roman Catholic Church, Congregation Church of San Mateo, New Spirit Community Church and St. Benedict Catholic Church.
To support the orphanage go to www.motherofpeace.co.uk / For more information contact Jesse Brooks at 510-575-8245or firstname.lastname@example.org