One of our dreams has always been to have a classroom at House of Martha that was equipped and dedicated to meet the special needs of children who have been recently traumatized, whether because their parents have died, or because of abandonment.
Dr. Wood was a faithful friend and supporter of Alliance for Children Everywhere for more than 20 years. It is our great honor to remember him by establishing this education program. One of the rooms at House of Martha is being cheerfully furnished with desks and books. This special room for learning and healing is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Terry Wood, a loving and protective dad, an excellent physician, an avid musician and a man who did all he could to make everything beautiful.
Dr. Terry Wood's life was dedicated to bringing hope, joy and beauty to others. Thanks to your, his memory now extends to Zambia Africa where abused and abandoned orphans at the House of Martha Crisis Nursery now have a chance to learn to read and write.
(L) The walls are painted with a base coat, ready for Kyndra Lane (see story below), an artist from Phoenix, AZ to decorate them with bright murals.
(R) Tables and chairs, made by street boys who are being trained as carpenters, are brought into the room. Each child proudly sits in their brand new place. For some, this is the first time they have ever sat on a chair.
(L) The average Zambian has a 5th grade education, but every Zambian knows the key to development is education. The children at House of Martha Crisis Nursery, who have suffered great trauma are hungry to study and learn. The Dr. Terry Wood Memorial Classroom gives them that priceless opportunity.
(R) Some of the children at House of Martha line up for their first "school picture." Many of them are hugging their new stuffed animal toys brought by summer volunteer teams.
That's the type of selfless person he was, family and friends said.
For more than 30 years, Wood, a Mesa pediatrician, gave tens of thousands of dollars to Alliance for Children Everywhere, a Tucson organization that sets up schools and orphanages in some of the poorest areas in the world.
When Wood died in March from heart failure, the Alliance named a Zambian classroom in his honor.
The classroom helps abused and orphaned children learn to read and write, while the organization tries to find them permanent homes. Its presence is largely due to Wood's financial backing.
"He has always been there for us," said Virginia Woods, founder and chief executive officer of the Christian not-for-profit, which has missions in North America, Central and South America and Africa. "We would not have been able to have reached into the lives of young children without his involvement."
For many abandoned and abused children in Zambia, a disease-ridden country with high poverty rates, the Dr. Terry David Wood Memorial Classroom was the first time many of them got to sit in a chair, the organization said.
Giving to others defined Wood throughout his 59 years of life, close friends said.
The mission remembers him as a gentle, caring man who never thought of himself. It also remembers him for the $400 checks he sent monthly since the late 1960s when the mission was established.
Kyndra Lane spent her first week in Zambia trying to ignore the lump in her throat and wearing sunglasses to hide her tears.
The Phoenix artist had volunteered to paint a classroom for a Tucson non-profit group that cares for abused and abandoned children.
But the sight of kids begging for money in the city and the streets lined with women crushing rocks to make money to feed their families was overwhelming.
"It's not a beautiful environment," Lane said.
In the last year, 50 people such as Lane have volunteered to do projects in Zambia for Alliance for Children Everywhere. The Tucson Christian organization has missions in North America, Central and South America and Africa.
These projects, which range from organizing soccer camps to training teachers on how to use a dictionary, are just one part of the commitment the group hopes its volunteers make.
What's more important than these one-time projects is that the volunteers return home and share the story with others, said Sandra Levinson, vice president of the organization.
"The issue is what do they do when they come back?" Levinson said. "We want them to come back and be an advocate of what they saw."
By her second week, Lane had gotten over the culture shock. She poured herself into painting the classroom that served a dozen abandoned and abused children, ages 4 through 12.
In Zambia, 23 percent of children are orphans, according to statistics provided by Alliance for Children Everywhere.
There they beg for money and sniff glue and gasoline all day. For many, getting high is the only escape from the death and hunger pangs.
Lane had heard stories of the homeless children on the streets. But when a barefoot and filthy 7-year-old boy approached her car at a red light and asked for money, Lane cried.
The boy held out one hand for money while clutching a water bottle that held his gasoline in the other. His glazed eyes still haunt Lane.
Despite the poverty and sadness in the country, Lane also found the Zambians to have beautiful smiles and a refreshing sense of joy.
When you ask a Zambian how the day is going, a common response is, "I am suffering peacefully," Lane said.
"They all smile," Lane said. "They may not have anything to eat, but they will smile."
Lane transformed the classroom, named in the memory of Mesa pediatrician Terry Wood, who donated tens of thousands of dollars to the group, from a drab 200-square-foot room into an outdoor scene with trees, clouds and birds.
"The kids were so excited as they watched Kyndra paint the walls," Levinson said.
Lane wants to return to Zambia next summer. But unlike her trip this year, she hopes to bring her family with her.
She's forged the emotional connection that's integral to maintaining the group's pipeline of volunteers who support its mission, which costs $35,000 a month worldwide to run.
"Unless people came and went back and told, we wouldn't have hundreds of people in the network helping us survive," Levinson said.