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Daily Real Estate News  |  September 19, 2007  |   Nashville Agents Give Hope to African Orphans
The AIDS epidemic in Africa has left thousands of children orphaned and homeless. But two real estate practitioners from Tennessee are making a difference.

Pamela Kidd and her daughter Keri Cannon, agents with Fridrich & Clark Realty in Nashville, Tenn., created a nurturing place called Village Hope for children who are orphaned after their parents die from the AIDS virus. Without Village Hope, the children would likely be living on the crime-and-drug-riddled streets.

Village Hope is more than an orphanage. Fourteen children live in a home as a family, go to school, and work together on a farm to take care of the animals and plant crops. The goal is to give the children a strong foundation from which they can build productive lives.

“The children want to go to school,” Cannon says. “They enjoy spending their weekends writing poetry and reading. They realize that they’ve been given an opportunity to be tomorrow’s leaders.”

Kidd’s journey to help the children of Zimbabwe began through her work with the Christian magazine Guideposts. She writes inspirational “devotions” for the magazine based on Bible passages. Those devotions caught the eye of a missionary stationed in Zimbabwe, who wrote to Kidd to ask for her help.

“I have to admit, I didn’t have Zimbabwe on my list of places to go,” says Kidd. But the letter touched her, and a few months later she made her first trip to Africa.

“When I got there, I heard about this wonderful woman who would bring the street children tea and bread every morning,” she says. “I expected this benevolent, shining woman to step out of the shadows to feed the kids, but she was an old woman living in an apartment that was about to be condemned, barely able to make ends meet. The children would climb out of storm drains and ditches to get food from her.”

Kidd and Cannon started sending money to the woman so she could continue to feed the homeless children. Eventually, with help from private donations and support from their church, the mother-daughter team bought a three-building compound in Harare for the children to gather during the day.

They also founded the Children of Zimbabwe Fund, and were the driving force in creating a center called Home of Hope, which distributes food and clothing to homeless children, pays school fees, and provides minor medical care.

But Kidd wanted to do more. She soon enlisted a local man, Paddington, to help check on the street kids and pass out food. In 2005, thanks to sizeable anonymous donation, Kidd and Cannon bought the farm and home for Village Hope; Paddington moved into the home with his wife and children, and serves as a surrogate father to orphans who live there.

Kidd personally pays all administrative fees for Village Hope so that 100 percent of donations can go directly to helping the children. “I was born with a love of home — even as a little girl I couldn’t stand that someone might be homeless,” says Kidd. “To think we’re part of helping the children of Zimbabwe have a home is incredible.”

Kidd and Cannon, together, are one of 10 finalists for the Good Neighbor Awards, a grant program recognizing REALTORSŪ who make exceptional volunteer contributions to their communities. Of the 10 Good Neighbor finalists, five winners will receive $10,000 grants for their community projects and will be honored at the REALTORSŪ Conference & Expo in Las Vegas on Nov. 14. The remaining five finalists will receive $2,500 grants for their cause.

You can Contact Pam Kidd and Keri Cannon at Fridrich & Clark Realty, Nashville, TN;
615/327-4800. Or, contact the Children of Zimbabwe Fund c/o The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee; 3833 Cleghorn Avenue, Suite 400; Nashville, TN 37215; 615/321-4939;

— By Tracey C. Velt for REALTORŪ Magazine Online

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