FOSA Board Member Spotlight - Francie Markham
I'm Francie Markham, a retired English teacher; I spent my whole teaching career at Dreher High School in Columbia, South Carolina. I enjoy working as a volunteer at Wesley United Methodist Church, where I am a member. Also I love being a part of Women of Many Faiths in my hometown, I have two grown children, who have both traveled to Fairfield; my son went with me twice. I have been to Zimbabwe eleven times, twice with my husband Doug, a retired allergist. Also I am privileged to have helped send five truck containers to Old Mutare, filled with needed goods like mattresses, supplies, books, and furniture. I am the past chair of FOSA and presently I am the vice chair and the assistant treasurer; for many years, I have enjoyed being on the board.
It was love at first sight at Fairfield with Nyarai, the secondary student whom my family sponsored at Fairfield. I knew she was "the one" to sponsor because she was older and because I enjoyed teaching high school English students. Back then, the children's pictures were on the website and she actually looked like she could be a student at Dreher. Her spoken English was beautiful.
From my first visit to FCH, Nyarai and I became friends. As the oldest child at Fairfield, she was like a "big sister" to all the children there. She was expected to set a good example and to assist in any way that she could; that is what I witnessed. Her 79 brothers and sisters followed her around and wanted her to notice or help them. She was especially fond of every new baby that arrived, quickly earning the infant's love; additionally, she helped out wherever any mother needed her. One day she showed up at the guest cottage with the newest baby who had just arrived on campus; I think the baby was one week old and I felt that she belonged only to Nyarai, as she cooed with the newborn and cradled her. What a lucky baby to have FCH and Nyarai!
On one of my trips, Nyarai rode along to Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, to pick us up. She spent the night with us there before we headed to Fairfield because it was very late. I do not believe that she had been to Harare before that trip. I loved watching her enjoy her country's capital city; all the sites, food and people opened a new book for her.
I celebrated when she headed to college to major in Fashion and Fabric / Sewing and Design. She thrived there at Mutare Tech, on campus and in internships ; now she has graduated and is working in Nyanga and living on her own. Among other duties, she is sewing cushions and curtains for their center.
In April, 2017, Doug and I went to Nyanga to visit her. She is very happy to see us and was so surprised because she did not know we were coming. Nyarai has shown that Fairfield encourages success in her children and that they will grow up to be productive Zimbabweans in their futures. Thank you, FCH mothers, relief mothers, and staff! Your work is so important, serving each child one by one! Also thank you, FOSA sponsors, for helping these children to thrive.