Million Dollar Smiles in Sudan


Study this photo. I challenge you NOT to be engaged and fascinated. Who are these 10 delightful young people? And where are they?

The photo was taken at the Harvesters Reaching the Nations (HRTN) orphanage in Terekeka, South Sudan, in Africa. The site is about 60 miles straight up the the Nile River, due north of the capital city of Juba.

It was taken by Ellen Wicker Cummings, a wonderful lady with a heart for the young people of Africa, particularly those who have been orphaned. It was taken during free time the day after she arrived.

“As I recall, I was wandering around speaking to the kids and assembled this group for a photo,” she says  “They are naturally happy kids and were just playing and enjoying themselves.”

Her interest in South Sudan began around 2007 when she met one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan.”  She went to Sudan two years later “and thus began my love affair with this newest world country,” she says.

To date she has made eight trips to South Sudan, participating in slave liberations, working with victims of leprosy and polio, and supporting schools, orphanages, and hospitals. Now she is at the orphanage in Terekeka for six months while a search continues for permanent leadership.

How did I get to know Ellen? Indirectly, through my love of running. I met her daughter Rebecca as a member of the Team in Training marathon training program in Hawaii. I recall having a delightful lunch with Becca’s  immediate family, including her dad, retired Air Force Col. Ned Cummings. All good people!

Hey, there’s a message here for all us — particularly those in or nearing retirement years. We should actively look for opportunities to serve worthwhile causes and not wait for opportunities to come to us. We stand to receive enormous satisfaction, and the people we serve may benefit also. Win-win.







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