|'Dream Dairy' provides hope to Africa University community
Dec. 13, 2006
|A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose
United Methodist missionary Larry Kies checks on cattle at Africa University's dairy farm in Mutare, Zimbabwe.
By Cathy Farmer*
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (UMNS) -- One year ago, Alyssa
Chrisos was sitting quietly beside her mother at Pisgah United Methodist
Church listening to Marsha Dorgan talk about the "Dream Dairy" at Africa
Dorgan, an agriculturalist from Paris, Tenn., and a consultant to Africa
University, spoke about the dairy cattle and the milk they produce, which
helps sustain 80 orphans who live near the campus. Her talk made a big
impression on the little 3-year-old. So big, in fact, that when Linda
Winstead, the church's mission chairperson, asked Alyssa to take up
donations for Africa University and the herd, she eagerly agreed.
Since then, for a year on Sundays, a faithful Alyssa has followed the ushers
down the center aisle of the 32-member church carrying her little brown
wicker mission basket.
"She goes up to every person," Winstead said. "If you don't put something in
the basket for Africa University and the Dream Dairy, you get a pouty look.
Makes you feel real guilty."
Her mother, Renee Chrisos, said Alyssa stops at every person. "She's real
serious," Renee said. "She'll give them the baddest look if they don't put
in that day." She chuckled slightly. "They all put something in."
"Alyssa loves animals and she wants to be sure the orphans have milk and
something to eat," said the Rev. H B Fields, the church's pastor. "But, our
people aren't giving just because a little girl is asking them to. They're
giving because they have a wonderful spirit and a heart for missions."
The people of Pisgah Church are average Americans, Fields said. "They're
working people," he explained, "country folks used to taking care of one
another. And they know the value of having animals like cows and chickens to
subsidize income." Pisgah is an open-country church located on Tennessee
Hwy. 118, six miles from Dresden.
"I think they were really impressed by being able to help folks help
themselves," he said of the offerings for the dairy herd.
Dorgan told the Pisgah congregation how the herd was started in 1998 by a
Memphis Annual (regional) Conference agriculturalist who visited Zimbabwe
with a Volunteers in Mission Team. The herd began with a dream and one bull.
"Willy" was purchased by a member of the team in honor of her dog.
|A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose
United Methodist-related Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe, serves students from 25 countries.
Continuing donations to the herd through Heifer Project International
enabled the purchase of the first dozen cows. Today's herd of 57 is housed
in a newly built dairy barn and cared for by Larry Kies, a United Methodist
agricultural missionary, and six farm workers employed by Africa University.
"The herd and farm have made a difference in the community," Dorgan said.
"The people are thankful to be able to purchase clean, processed, fresh milk
at a reasonable price through the university." The dairy is self-supporting
and receives no money from Africa University, and is on its way for more
growth. "Thanks be to God!" she said.
And because of the herd, the children at the Fairfield Orphanage nearby also
receive a daily allotment of milk.
Although Willy died after a few years from a disease called black leg (there
was no money available for the necessary four vaccinations a year to prevent
it), the herd is thriving by using artificial insemination. Two baby bulls
will soon be sold to community farmers. Breeding them should improve the
A year after her first visit to Pisgah United Methodist Church to talk about
the Dream Dairy, Dorgan came back. Alyssa was ready for her with a check for
$1,000. She also had a picture of herself, pulled from her father's wallet,
for Dorgan to take to Africa to show the orphans. "So they'll know who I
Winstead said the church likes the project. "We like the idea of helping
people help themselves instead of just giving them money. This is something
the people there can build on."
"I'm proud of our church," Fields said. "Our people love everybody and are
concerned about everybody. One little lady told me when I first came that
they've loved every pastor they've ever had. They don't talk bad about
anyone. And if there's a need, they'll find a way to help."
When Dorgan headed back to Africa University this November, she carried with
her a $1,000 check, a picture of Alyssa, and the memory of a little church
Africa University opened in Mutare, Zimbabwe, in March 1992 as the country's
first private, pan-African university. The mission of the United
Methodist-related project is to provide quality education within a
pan-African context through which individuals can acquire general and
professional knowledge and skills, grow in spiritual maturity, and develop
sound moral values, ethics and leadership qualities.
*Farmer is director of communications for the Memphis Annual (regional)
Conference of the United Methodist Church.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or