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Along, Beside, & Between: A Newsletter #25
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The Laborers are Few

Hello, my amazing partners!

I know it has been a while since I last touched base with you. But there has been a very exciting reason for that. A very cool opportunity fell right into my lap and I am so excited to share it with you and bring you along for the journey!

I am helping start a new nonprofit organization here in Zambia! And it is right in line with my passion. 

Here's the story:

A couple months ago, my friend Luyando approached me to see if I would want to help start a new organization with him. The goal of the organization is to help Zambian youth that are going through depression and anxiety. The more he told me, the more I knew that this position was exactly made for me!
Sounds like a completely new line of work right? Not really. Our approach is informal and relational in nature. We come alongside the students that are struggling to listen to and support them. Yeah! Basically what I was doing at GLO! I will also be the administrative support where I can use my problem solving and networking skills to build a strong and sustainable base for the organization. 

As I have worked with youth in Zambia for the last two years, I have seen a huge need for psychological support and awareness. Depression is the number one diagnosed mental illness across the country. And yet there are only THREE licensed psychiatrists in the whole country (as of 2014). There is little awareness about mental illness, so if someone is struggling the usual approach is to tell them to just suck it up. The need is immense. (Take a look at Luyando’s story below.)


As I was reading my bible the other morning, I came across that well known passage where Jesus says that the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Did you know it is in the same passage that Christ looks upon the masses with compassion because they are “harassed and helpless like sheep without a shepherd”? It struck my heart that that is the state of mental health in this country. There are so many youth that are hurting but so few people to help.

Our organization is aiming to raise up those laborers to bring in the harvest of health and thriving. So that the youth of this country will be able to lead this country well.

So in the last couple of months, I have slowly phased out working at GLO to turn my attention to this new organization that we are calling You’re Not Alone (name subject to change depending on how strict the Zambian government decides to be).

Heads up that I might be reaching out to you for any connections or advice you may have for us as we start this journey! I value you guys beyond words!

And if you have any questions, send them my way! I am so excited for the ways that God has and will move and would love to chat about it.

Much love and prayer, 

April

*Check out my new website with pictures and stories at www.missionaryaprilsylvester.com*

Story Corner: Luyando's Story (as written by himself)
[trigger warning for anyone with depressive tendancies]
Darkness. Your life does flash before your eyes. But not how they make it seem like in the movies. Its brief. 3 seconds tops. It seems you only get the greatest hits. Well that’s what I remember any way. And yes you do crap your pants sadly. But luckily for me that wasn’t it, there was a voice saying my name, calling out to me. The bright light hits me, my breath slowly comes back to my body and I can feel her lifting my body and cutting the belt from around my neck.  I open my eyes and I’m lying down on the floor, coughing out blood, trying to catch my breath with the belt still around my neck. My first attempt at suicide wasn’t successful.
That’s what depression and anxiety can do to you. Mental illness. Loneliness. They can all lead to suicidal tendencies. And I experienced it first-hand.
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety after my suicide attempt. But that wasn’t the end of my attempts, I tried drowning myself, jumping out of a moving car, electrocuting myself and slitting my wrists. Yes I wanted the lonliness and pain to end.
But that’s the thing, when you lose the people you had before in your life, the ones who remain are the ones that get you out of it. And for me that was my family and my friend Muwana. Just the sense of having people care about you. People showing you love. People helping you. That feeling of knowing that you are not alone.
In Zambia, going through what I went through is considered a weakness. You’re not ‘man’ enough. They want you to ‘Man Up’ and ‘Get serious and grow up’. But people don’t realize how serious what I went through is. If you look down on someone in their weakest moment, you are just pushing them closer and closer to the brink. Showing them that they are alone.
In 2014, The World Health Organization published a list of the countries ranked from the most suicide deaths to the least. And believe it or not, amongst all the countries in the whole world, Zambia ranked 34th. But still it’s not a topic that is given attention. There are almost no resources for people struggling with depression here in Zambia.
People are hurting and feeling unable to reach out for help. And that’s what I want to change.
I want the youth of Zambia to know that they are not alone.
GIVE NOW
What do we do?
  • Presentations in schools, clinics, clubs and churches about depression, anxiety, and other common mental health issues
  • Trainings with family members /friends in how best to support someone struggling with depression or anxiety
  • A team of trained volunteer Listeners that meet one-on-one with their assigned youth at least twice per month to support them in any way needed
  • Building strong relationships with local therapists and hospital wards in order to be able to refer our youth out when in crisis
So what did that mean for my life here in Zambia?
  • I moved out of GLO and closer to town. I now live in a super cute apartment with a nice little veranda and a garden. Sophia loves it.
  • My day-to-day at the moment is full of paperwork, researching, meetings, and government offices. But it is all necessary to create a stable base for the amazing work we will be doing!
  • Being closer to town has also let me lean into teaching yoga part time as well, which is so life giving for me!
Copyright © 2015 April Sylvester, All rights reserved.

My mailing address is:
3745 Social Circle
Norcross, GA 30092

Contact SAMS for any fundraising questions:
PO Box 399
Ambridge, PA 15003
+1 724-266-0669
 
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April Sylvester · 2109 W 19th St · Chicago, Il 60608 · USA

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