Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fishing and philanthropy mingle in Africa

Donations large and small lead orphaned children to university

Express Staff Writer

Peter DeBaun, center, shows off a sailfish caught off the coast of Zanzibar, an island that is part of Tanzania. DeBaunís clients, primarily from the Wood River Valley, have supplied an orphanage and school in Zambia with some $1 million over the past nine years. Courtesy photo

About nine years ago, a dozen or so fishing guides at Silver Creek Outfitters in Ketchum decided to pitch in their day’s wages and tips for a good cause. 

At the end of the day, there was enough money in the kitty to feed and school 300 orphans for a month in Mapalo, a town in the northern part of the African nation of Zambia.

Since that time, about $1 million has been raised to fund the Mapalo Academy and Care Center for Orphans, which next year will graduate its first class from high school. All are expected to go on to study at Northrise University in Zambia.

The graduation ceremony will bring full circle an effort by valley resident and international fishing guide Peter DeBaun to make a difference in a country where people get by on about $35 per month.

Telling his story well, and to the right people, has made all the difference to the kids of Mapalo. While casting around for the next big trout, DeBaun told his story to the likes of newsman Tom Brokaw and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, as well as numerous other private donors who have chosen to pitch in for the kids of Mapalo. 

DeBaun grew up in Southern California and earned a degree in divinity from Princeton University before coming to the Wood River Valley. He worked as a youth director at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum, and developed his passion for fishing into a career as an international guide. He works four months each year at Silver Creek Outfitters in Ketchum, and spends much of the rest of the year in Central America, India and Africa, fishing in rivers and seas with high-end clients.

About 12 years ago, he met Zambian Dr. Moffat Zimba at Grace Fellowship Church in Newport Beach, Calif. Zimba asked him to help develop a curriculum and teach at the first accredited university in Zambia, Northrise University. 


“It’s all been about telling a great story.”
Peter DeBaun
Fishing guide Africa

DeBaun soon afterward turned his attention to the many orphans who might one day attend Northrise. Poverty and widespread AIDS had left hundreds of thousands of Zambian children orphaned or with only one parent. Parentless, homeless, malnourished, undereducated and with little hope for the future, Zambian children rely on relief and aid from nonprofit groups worldwide. 

DeBaun’s Give Hope for Life foundation was started to fund a bead-making program, which would supply porridge and other basic needs to orphans. Today it provides an opportunity to build a sustainable life by giving the kids of Mapalo an education, nourishment and the hope of a secondary education.

Ketchum developer George Kirk visited Mapalo in 2005 and again last April to witness developments made possible by Rotary Clubs in Idaho and Zambia. He also talked to Head of School Emil Mukuka. 

“When I’d last visited Mapalo, the classroom building was just nearing completion; now it was completed and had been occupied for over six years, hosting classes for 350 students during each of those years,” Kirk wrote on the Give Hope for Life website. 

Kirk said a new restroom facility for both boys and girls with sinks, toilets, urinals and showers was nearing completion. There was also a new building and concrete slab hosting Mapalo’s very own concrete block-making business, producing blocks for the building trades.

The restroom facility was constructed by the Rotary Club of Ndola, Zambia, under a matching grant provided by Rotary International in conjunction with the Ketchum-Sun Valley Rotary Club. With a budget of just under $11,000, the Ketchum-Sun Valley Rotary Club leveraged $3,400 of local funds into the total, with matches from Rotary District 5400 in Southern Idaho and Rotary International. 

“My thanks to my fellow Rotarians for supporting and completing this project,” Kirk stated.

DeBaun said that in addition to large foundation grants, Hailey and Ketchum Rotary clubs, local churches, local anglers and guides, youth groups and individuals throughout the valley have come together to help the orphans of Mapalo. 

“Children who were once living on the streets, in hospitals and out of school for years are now a true success story of what a long-term commitment to education, health care and nutrition can do for one of the 10 poorest countries in the world,” he said.

DeBaun is quick to point out that big commitments from small donors can make a real difference for children in the developing world. 

One high school student, Jenny Borda, working at Tully’s coffeehouse in Ketchum several years ago, donated $1,500 in tips to Give Hope for Life, enough money to dig a well for safe drinking water.

“Her donation helped save hundreds of kids from getting dysentery,” DeBaun said.

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Tony Evans:

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