Local residents to journey to Africa and help children

Sylvia Allen with children, 2012COURTESY OF STEVEN LE VINE
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Sylvia Allen with children, 2012COURTESY OF STEVEN LE VINE

By KAREN RAPOLLA
Staff Writer

On Nov. 10, Susan Davies and Gerry Mogan will be joining Sylvia Allen, founder/president of the Holmdel-based nonprofit Sylvia’s Children, along with 12 other volunteers that include medical personnel, as they travel to the remote village of Mbiriizi in Uganda, Africa.

The purpose of the trip is to help improve the lives of over 1,000 children in desperate need and bring the gift of holiday cheer via the foundation’s annual Christmas trip.

“Africa is a fascinating place, and this for me is an adventure of the heart,” said Mogan of Middletown. “The opportunity to go on this trip and do something good for those that need it is what made the decision for me.”

In addition, The Hynes Family Clinic, named after the family who made the generous donation to build the 6,000-square-foot facility that was constructed in 2014, will be open to the village and expects to treat 300 patients in three days at the medical clinic.

Allen,a resident of Holmdel, presently makes two journeys to the village per year, and during the holiday season she plans a party and celebration for the children that includes the distribution of gifts to each child, a delicious hot meal and cake.

Sylvia’s Children, founded in 2003, directly improves the lives of over 1,000 children in Uganda, which is located in eastern Africa. Mbiriizi has a population of 35,000. The charity supports the Mbiriizi Advanced Primary School that currently have 1,024 students with support for 120 additional secondary students and 25 students in college and technical schools.

The charity was created by Allen, who has been actively changing lives by donating the funds of her family-run charity (Allen’s children Michele and Tony Costa are trustees) to improve the living conditions of over 1,000 children — 25 percent of whom are orphaned due to the AIDS epidemic in the village of Mbiriizi.

To date the nonprofit has raised monies to construct a clean well, housing and various buildings that include a library, sewing building, dormitories for the orphaned children, the medical clinic and more. The medical clinic serves not only children, but villagers as well year-round.

This year will be the 12th Christmas party, and every girl will be receiving a new dress and every boy a new shirt, among other goodies that include sunglasses, crayons, kazoos, stickers and Mardi Gras beads. Allen also secured the purchase of a local cow to ensure that the hot meal will include the rare treat of a beef stew.

“I am so thrilled that my choir director, Susan Davies, will be joining us on our combination Christmas and medical trip. The beautiful singing of our children at the school will bring tears of joy to her eyes. In addition, she will know the real joy of Christmas by spending this celebration with 1,200 children who are so loving and kind,” said Allen, a member of Holmdel Community United Church of Christ.

“I am honored to be participating in the trip this year. It is such a worthy charity that touches so many lives. Sylvia’s Children is one place I can give where I know it will make a difference in this world,” said Davies of Freehold Borough.

The charity is unique in that it is a “direct participation” charity, where one can become directly involved by going on one of the two annual trips or sponsoring a child, purchasing specific items needed or making a monetary donation. There are no administration charges taken out of donations, and 100 percent of the funds raised go directly to the Mbiriizi Advanced Primary and Day Care School.

On Dec. 3 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Holmdel will hold a Historic House Tour to benefit the charity. For more information, visit www.SylviasChildren.org or call 732-946-2711.