How did you become interested in Africa? What type of work do you do there?
I have always had a love for Africa! I always thought how great it would be to one day go there and sit with the woman and children and teach them something. I didn’t know exactly what, but since I am a crafty person, I thought about sewing, or macramé, something that would be useful in some way.
In 2004, a friend of mine, Shelene was asked by a friend of hers, about the children’s pictures that she had on her refrigerator. She told them that they were children that she sponsored from Africa. The person told her, “Oh you fell for that one too! How do you know that those children aren’t really about 40 years old? My friend said she didn’t know and thought that it would be a great idea to go and find out.
She had an opportunity to go to Uganda with the Children’s Hunger Fund www.childrenshungerfund.org and decided to find out for herself. When she arrived in Uganda she went straight to the sponsorship office and asked to see her kids. After she gave them the ID number of the children, the office person said to follow her. They walked for a mile or so and came to a village. There in the village, was a mud hut which the office person told her this was the home of one of the children. When Shelene entered the hut, a little girl ran up to her and put her arms around Shelene’s leg saying, “Munguzoo,” which means, “White.”
Shelene looked at the little girl and said, “Omega? I’m Shelene!”
When Omega said, “Yes, I know.”
Shelene was just beside herself. She looked around the mud hut and there imbedded into the mud wall was the picture of the Christmas card that she had sent to Omega the year before!
Shelene came home from the experience and called me to say that I had to go back with her. She also said that she had an idea about raising money to buy bicycles to help get food and supplies into the villages. As a result, “Jungle Ride” was born. Shelene put together an African party, which raised enough money to purchase 100 bicycles, and some of those who attended sponsored as many as 25 children. Shelene presented the money to Dave Phillips of the Children’s Hunger Fund, and he said that she would have to go back again and deliver the bicycles herself. So Shelene asked if I would go back with her that next June. I was so excited about finally going to Africa. It was an experience that touched me so deeply that I have been back five times since June of 2004.
The Children’s Hunger Fund is a non-denominational Christian organization that helps hungry and hurting families here in the U.S. and also in many countries around the world. It is listed on the Forbes list as the only charity in America to achieve a 100% rating in all three of their ratings categories. More than 99% of all revenue goes to support programs serving children in need. When I went back to Uganda on my second visit, I fulfilled my dream of teaching the children something. I actually taught a Sunday school class and taught the children how to memorize the Ten Commandments through a visual aid that we have through “The Way of the Master” ministries
It was so great! I had children coming up to me for days, wanting to say the Ten Commandments to me, because if they did, they would receive a sweet. These children were learning God’s moral Law and, in so doing, understanding what it means to sin. It was quite a wonderful experience to see these children so eager to learn. Not only do we go over to feed their little tummies physically, but what better food to feed them than God’s love and the understanding of the knowledge of sin so that they will understand the cross.
Are there any ways we can become involved?
Oh yes! Those interested can go to www.childrenshungerfund.org to learn more about this organization. If interested, anyone can become a donor, corporate sponsor, or give what they can to help feed these needy children and their families. There are many children who are dying of hunger. Hunger is NOT a disease! All they need is a hamburger! We can do that! Children’s Hunger Fund also has a Family Pak program where churches can get involved.
Won’t you please visit my website at: www.barbaracameron.net and view my personal pictures of my trips to Africa. You will fall in love with the children of Uganda. Through African Renewal Ministries you can become a sponsor for one of these children. For just $30.00 a month they will receive food, shoes, uniform, an education and learn about Jesus. They also write to you several times a year and you can send them gifts for their birthday and holidays. If anyone is interested in sponsoring a child they can also go to www.childrenshungerfund.org and find the link for sponsorship.
How did you get involved with the Make-A-Wish kids? What types of activities has this led to for your family?
During the years on Growing Pains and Full House, there were “wish” organizations that would grant wishes to terminally and critically ill children. We had families every week for years! Their wish was to come to a taping of the show and possibly meet the cast and take some pictures.
Each cast member would usually have someone that came just to meet him or her. Kirk had many children, and his compassion for them was very heartwarming to see. He would stay after taping to talk with the families, let them take as many pictures as they wanted, show them around the set–whatever to add to their wish. There were times when Kirk would meet the child or surprise them at their hotel the next day. We as a family would invite them up to our home in Big Bear because we just fell in love with them and wanted to extend their wish just a few more days. During one year after the show went on hiatus, Kirk came to me and asked if he could take some of the children and their families camping instead of doing a film. Camping? I told him I would think about it and try and come up with a plan. I didn’t know about camping with oxygen tanks and all sorts of things. That we would have to think about, and so I spoke with a dear friend of ours and explained what Kirk had asked me. He told me that there was a wonderful place in Georgia that would be a perfect place to hold a camp. He suggested that I fly there and check it out. The resort was Callaway Gardens. It is a beautiful resort with lots of azalea bushes, a man-made lake, lots and lots of wonderful things that you can do on a family vacation. I spoke with the manager of the grounds and told them about Kirk’s idea. They said that maybe they could get some of the villa owners to donate a villa for each of the families.
As we began to put this together, the local Lexus car dealership donated a car for each family for the week and is still donating after 15 years! We had donors of different companies that wanted to help too. Athletic companies donated shoes, clothes. Toy companies donated toys, a variety of wonderful donated products to help make this camp a very memorable one.
I flew home and told Kirk what I found out and so “Camp Firefly” began. This camp has been in existence now for over 15 years.
You can learn more about all the exciting ministries the Cameron family is involved in through visiting these websites:
Barbara Cameron, www.barbaracameron.net
Way of the Master, www.wayofthemaster.com
Candace Cameron, www.candacecameronbure.net