Our Purpose

Forgotten Voices equips trustworthy local churches in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ and assist African families caring for orphaned and vulnerable children who have lost one or both of their parents.

When Forgotten Voices initiates a partnership with a local African church, our indigenous staff trains the pastor, five elders, seven to ten community volunteers, and between twenty-five and fifty caregivers. Our work multiplies and strengthens leaders, who learn how to create custom plans for the children they love to serve. We rejoice in hearing stories of how individuals and entire churches are transformed as we quietly invest to embolden leaders to demonstrate the love of Jesus by caring for children in great need.

Timeline

Use the arrows, years or click-and-drag on Timeline cards to navigate.Download our Timeline as a PDF.

2004

After an exploratory trip by West Shore Evangelical Free Church (WSEFC)’s young adult ministry group, three church-led projects in Zimbabwe are identified for possible initial funding in response to the crisis of children orphaned by AIDS.

2005

Ryan Keith and a team of volunteers return to Zimbabwe and initiate a partnership with Mtshabezi National AIDS Project, a national program of the BIC Church in Zimbabwe. The project aims to help 120 children in Zimbabwe through education and home-based care for a cost of $40,000 per year. Support for the project flows in, and WSEFC urges Ryan to incorporate as a separate nonprofit entity. Forgotten Voices International is established. Our mission: to demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ by equipping local churches in southern Africa to meet the physical and spiritual needs of children orphaned by AIDS in their communities.

2006

Our initial model focuses on listening to local leaders and providing a few key services to as many children as possible. The Mtshabezi project grows to reach more than 2,000 children. Three additional projects led by Zimbabwean pastors are launched, benefiting another 1,000 children. Forgotten Voices receives its 501(c)3 nonprofit status and its Board of Directors is formed. Ryan Keith is hired as the organization’s first staff member, serving part-time to oversee a team of volunteers.

2007

Forgotten Voices commits to the principles of “custom plans” and “quiet investments” in our partnerships, continues work in Zimbabwe and begins exploring partnership possibilities in Zambia.

2008

Forgotten Voices establishes a practice of working exclusively with African churches whose pastoral leader holds a degree from an accredited African seminary. This approach is designed to ensure sound doctrine and effective mentorship in the context of a rapidly-growing African church. Relationships with the Theological College of Zimbabwe and Theological College of Central Africa in Zambia (now Evangelical University) advance this goal. In response to feedback from African partners, Forgottes Voices adjusts its focus to prioritize support for in-depth services, even if this means reaching fewer children. Guidelines also limit new partnership funding to $5,000 per project, with an emerging goal of sustainability once Forgotten Voices funding ends. Forgotten Voices expands to Zambia, launching its first project in Ndola.

2010

Existing church partners r equest funding to support income-generating activities (IGAs). Forgotten Voices determines that IGAs are consistent with the organization’s mission and values, and begin to explore ways to incorporate this strategy. Forgotten Voices reinforces its commitment to local leadership by establishing the position of Africa Director to oversee church partnerships and staffing throughout the organization’s Africa-based projects.

2013

Specific funding is secured to pilot five IGA (income generation activity) projects, as well as savings and credit association training for caregivers of participating partner churches. Forgotten Voices board of directors affirms “sustainability” as a third core principle of our model, which is now described as: Custom, Quiet, Sustainable.

2014

The organization focuses on scaling investments by creating training modules for business development and improving data collection procedures to understand program impact.

2015

Forgotten Voices’ board of directors crafts a five-year strategic plan, calling for expansion to reach 250 African church partners and serve 20,000 beneficiaries by the year 2020.

2016

The organization celebrates the 10th anniversary of its official founding. Forgotten Voices invests in strategic staffing to improve infrastructure as the organization is poised to expand. More than 25 full and part-time staff now work for Forgotten Voices in the U.S. and Africa, including 18 indigenous African team members. Forgotten Voices launches its first projects in Malawi. The number of African church partners grows by nearly 300% (up to 87 partners, from 34 the previous year). Forgotten Voices serves more than 12,573 beneficiaries in Africa. Contributions total nearly $1 million, with donors from 33 states.

2017

Forgotten Voices will expand the number of partners in imbabwe, Zambia and Malawi to total approximately 120 church-based orphan care partners. Resources are in place to establish 20+ new income generating activities (IGAs) led by African church partners. Forgotten Voices leadership seeks opportunities to broaden Africa-based relationships/networks that empower churches and create pathways for replication of the organization’s innovative orphan care model.