Gib Leonard - Founding Director

In June 2004, I  traveled to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe on a mission trip with a few members of our church, Providence in McLean, Va.  I personally was touched by the love of the people, the friendly happy hearts that each one seemed to have towards life. As I looked around, I continued to see more and more people with this wonderful attitude, though living in poverty, with high unemployment, school buildings that were falling down, schools that needed to be built, teachers that slept in the closets at the schools. There was a serious tugging on my heart to do something about this...but what? The need was so great; a whole lot larger than our church could handle so, The Buy a Brick Foundation was born,  a Non-Profit that raises funds and then goes and builds at the most needed villages in Zimbabwe. Thirteen years later, I would never have been able to comprehend that we would have built or rehabbed twelve school block buildings in six villages, including Victoria Falls and Hwange District.  Honestly, I thought Africa would be a cool place to take in a little adventure, a safari, take in the awesome sites, and in the process, do a few good deeds along the way. I had no idea that my life would change dramatically as a result of my first two weeks in Zimbabwe in 2004. The people of Zimbabwe touched my heart and have become a major part of my life ever since I first stepped on their soil.

 

The remarkable thing about this life changing experience is that God had prepared all of this in advance. During the past thirteen years we've been building relationships, true friendships, mentoring business partners and finding wonderful volunteers along the way. So what do we do? We prepare, gets all the facts, pray for guideance, and go and go and go. I've said this many times before, "Don't go on a mission trip, go on a mission" Mission Trips have start dates and ending dates. Pray for God to send you on a mission and then just get after it.

 

We work hard, hand-in-hand with the people and the Chiefs of the Villages to empower the locals so that the vision that was placed on our hearts would become theirs as well, and it's working; we've got over a decade of personal relationships, tribal relationships, Zimbabwe Government relationships. We have seen children advance through the grades and now attend High School, a High Schools that we built, and because of the growth of the very first school, Dadani, kids can now attend Dadani Techincal College in Victoria Falls Township. Dadani, an accredited 5 course Techinacal College that has opened the doors for the future advancement of it's people that 10 years ago wasn't available.

 

For me, these past thirteen years have been some of the most exciting, wonderful friendship-building relationships that I've had in my life. If you're reading this, and thinking about getting involved with our Organization consider this. Imagine, getting off a plane in a far off distant land and being met by the most loving people on earth. They caravan you out to a distant village where the villagers greet you like family. They feed you,  house you in native accommodations. The next day, you work hard, hand in hand, arm in arm building from scratch a school block that was only a vision in the Village Chief's eye, a dream in a young child's mind, but only that. Now, because of a desire that was placed on your heart  back in 2004, together we will educate the leaders of tomorrow, today, and in the process you have created friendships that will bond for life. This is not a fairy tale, but a true story, that's now a decade plus long; a real life changing story that can be yours, for those who say "Send me".

 

On a personal level, I've been married to my High School Sweetheart for the past 43 years, we have two wonderful grow kids who are married, giving us the best daughter-in-law and son-in-law that parents could ever ask for; we have four amazing grandchildren that will someday soon be travelling to Zimbabwe with me; and as of July 2015, our daughter Jenny and their daughter Marlee traveled to Zimbabwe with me making three generations of my blood working in the African Bush, now that's exciting to me, beyond what words can express. This can be your story as well, to pass along to your next generation, come join us and see the impact that you can make on someones life and how they will change yours, forever.

Sandy Lutton - Marketing Director

I visited Africa for the first time in March of 2010. Before that trip I had always had a place in my heart for Africa and the needs of the people there. I had a great desire to go there and help in some capacity but didn't really know how. As soon as I asked God to show me how I could serve him, he introduced to me Providence Church and the founders ofThe Buy a Brick Foundation.

 

It just so happened that they were in the process of planning their next trip to Africa to build a new school in a very desperate village. I knew the second I heard about the mission, I had to go! So in March 2010, I set out on my first adventure to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to the Masuie Village. For those two weeks, I experienced firsthand the amazing people, the hopeful and bright children, and the great need of that country for food, water, health care and education.

 

On the way home in the Johannesburg airport, I asked Gib and Sheila if I could get more involved with the marketing and fundraising efforts of BaBF. I knew the trip was coming to an end but I also knew my heart was still with the people and children of Zimbabwe. This adventure was really just beginning for me.

 

I knew that my background in corporate marketing & sales could help the organization to continue to grow and fund the mission. I have recently gone back to Zimbabwe and look forward to many more adventures there. Though my passion is helping to better the lives of the people and children of Zimbabwe, I find my greatest joy in serving God and hanging out with my husband and our three young children.

Sheila Farthing - Co-Founder

My love for Africa and the people there began in 2005, when I traveled to Uganda with a group to build a house for the Watoto organization. Although an active church member for many years I never thought I would be involved in foreign missions. I lived my life in a comfortable bubble not thinking much about the world around me.  But when God calls it's hard to say no. That first trip opened my eyes and my heart to a calling that changed my life forever. I went to Zimbabwe in 2007 with a group from my church and realized that was where God wanted me to work. I am in love with the country and the people and my heart breaks as I watch them struggle just to survive day to day.

 

I went back as often as I could but knew there had to be a way to provide more help than just two weeks playing with and feeding the kids. We started The Buy a Brick Foundation so that we would have a greater opportunity to make a change in Zimbabwe. When not traveling to Zimbabwe I am the CEO of the Farthing Household in Budapest.  I've been blessed with an amazing husband and three wonderful children. I'm so excited to see where God leads me in the future and thrilled about the growth of The Buy a Brick Foundation.  I look forward to serving in Zimbabwe for many, many more years.