When Baylor University student Veronica Campbell changed her major back to art, it was with an idea of using her talents to help others. Her decision is proving to be the right one, both spiritually and financially.
Recent artwork created by Campbell and other students has fired up the imaginations and spirits of Zambian orphans and generated tens of thousands of dollars to help those struggling with disease and poverty in the African nation.
And those orphans have left their fingerprints — literally — on the art project by Campbell and fellow studio art major Rachel Taylor.
The students’ paintings of trees — featuring brightly colored leaves made by the children’s fingertips — eventually raised nearly $45,000 to help children living in extreme poverty become leaders for change.
Campbell and Taylor traveled to Zambia with Baylor’s Zambia women’s leadership team. The finished canvases were auctioned to raise money for the Legacy Academy at the Family Legacy Tree of Life Children’s Village, a community for orphaned children located outside Lusaka, Zambia’s capital.
“I had no idea this project would be such a success,” said Campbell, a junior and former social work major. “When I switched my major back to art, I was contemplating the importance of it and how it can ‘help people.’ By participating in this, I see how it has aided the kids financially and how it has freed up time for the Family Legacy staff so they can tackle other things they have on their plate.”
More than one million orphans have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS or extreme poverty in Zambia. Family Legacy provides children with educational and spiritual development and works to give them the opportunities and encouragement they need to become leaders and professionals in the community.
The organization hosts the annual Camp Life, a summer program that allows individuals and American families to connect with and support children in Lusaka slums while sharing the gospel. During this seven-week program, they sell art projects to raise money to take the children on field trips throughout the year.
“My trip to Zambia was an experience that I won’t soon forget,” said Taylor, a junior. “It taught me many things, among them, the importance of the empowerment of women everywhere. My goal to further women’s empowerment didn’t end when I left Africa.”
Led by by Melanie Smith, international programs coordinator in Baylor’s Center for Global Engagement, and Carol Marroquin, office manager in the Hankamer School of Business, the students also connected with children by visiting slums to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and helping them illustrate the book.
In addition, students worked with high school-aged girls and spoke with them about various topics in leadership. They also visited a Lusaka hospital to speak with the founder of Zoe’s Hope, a nonprofit organization that helps abandoned premature babies.