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Couple educates African kids

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Agape Village children, employees, volunteers, pastors and dignitaries gather for a Blessing of the School in March.

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BY JENNY WHITE
Telegram Correspondent

Sunday, June 10, 2018

As school winds down for students in the area, one local couple is busy preparing for a new school year — for students in Zambia, Africa.

Mickey and Jackie Bailey of Rocky Mount are founders of Agape Village in Zambia. The 138-acre village consists of an orphanage for 65 children, a working farm and a soon-to-open new school. Children in grades K-7 will attend the new Agape Village School.

The Baileys are asking for the community’s help to fill the new school’s bookshelves with age-appropriate books. Agape Village students speak and learn in English.

“We are looking for used or new books for pre-school through grade seven students,” Jackie Bailey said.

She said the orphanage has a few bookcases full of donated books from past years and the well-worn reading materials are beloved by the children.

“It’s one of their favorite things to do, to grab a book off those shelves and read it to me when we visit,” Jackie Bailey said.

The school, slated to open for classes in January when the Zambian school year starts, is the newest addition to Agape Village.

For the past nine years, Mickey and Jackie Bailey have traveled between their home in Rocky Mount and Zambia. Africa, where their hearts are.

In 2009, the Baileys came back from a church-sponsored mission trip to Zambia. They could not get the unbelievable poverty and the large number of orphaned children off their minds.

Mickey Bailey said after much praying and discussion, the couple decided they were being called by God to go back to Zambia to help alleviate the suffering of the children in the Chitambo Village area, which they had visited about six months before.

“Jackie and I were approaching the age where we were looking forward to relaxing,” Mickey Bailey said. “This calling we had, it was hard to make sense of. The Zambian bush is a daunting place and to imagine just arriving there and building an orphanage for these children wasn’t something I was sure we could do.”

Bailey said after several months and many prayers, he and Jackie decided to follow God’s call. As they wound their way through the Zambian bush and all the red tape and road blocks that come with a building project in a third-world country, the obstacles faded away and Agape Village Orphanage became a reality.

“We were just the hands and feet,” Mickey Bailey said. “This was all God’s plan and His doing.”

The Baileys formed a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization called Agape Village Foundation and appointed a board of directors that serve as ambassadors for the project and prayerfully support the village.

Jackie Bailey said the Agape Village Foundation does not seek to get the children adopted but rather shelter and raise them in a loving environment until they are old enough to take care of themselves.

“Agape Village is their home now, and they are all brothers and sisters to each other now,” she said of the children, ages 4-16, adding that most of the children do have family in surrounding villages and they are encouraged to continue relationships with their relatives. “Poverty is harsh in Zambia, and as much as these families loved the children, they couldn’t feed them or care for them. We want the children to still know and love their biological family, too.”

The Baileys believe one of the most important keys to helping these children become self-sustaining members — and even leaders — in their community is to make sure they get a good education. But over the years, the Baileys have been disappointed in the quality of the public schools the Agape Village children have been attending.

“They just don’t take educating the children seriously,” Jackie Bailey said, “There are 50 or 60 kids in a classroom, there are no supplies or books and no real organization or effort to keep the kids on task and learning.”

Agape Village Foundation took on the project of building a school in 2017, and the school was finished this past spring.

One of the foundation’s board members, Gerald Batts, has been a supporter of Agape Village since its inception and has visited the children and the orphanage about a dozen times.

“The orphanage and the school are changing the lives of these children and the villager’s lives. Every trip, I see our children growing up, becoming more educated, healthier and happy,” Batts said.

Batts said he believes the school is another piece of the plan God has for Agape Village.

The Baileys agree.

“We are really looking forward to having a bigger impact on their education by having the school, and its curriculum, here under the wing of Agape Village,” Jackie Bailey said.

The Baileys will be shipping the donated books to Zambia and taking some with them when they visit in October.

“Whether you are a student in Africa or America, having access to an assortment of books is proven to increase school success rates,” Jackie Bailey said. “We have many things in common with our friends in Zambia, and children loving to sit down and read a good book or having one read to them seems to be pretty universal.”

Books can be dropped off at First United Methodist Church at 100 S. Church St. or call Jackie Bailey at 252-904-2221 for pick up.

To learn more about Agape Village, visit agapevillagfoundation.org.

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