Art Contest Gives Children the Chance to Help Children

04/28/11

Monica Atim came to live at Children of the Nations’ (COTN) Lira Children’s Home in Lira, Uganda, in 2007, at age 7. She was shy and quiet in the unfamiliar environment, but soon began to make friends with the other children. Unbeknownst to Monica at the time, God was planning to bring even more friends into her life, from across the world. Those friends would be inspired to help Monica and other children in need, and they would do so through creative means.

One of those friends is Suzzy Czarnecki of Big Bear Lake, California. Suzzy has come up with a way for kids in her neck of the woods to help kids in Africa like Monica, through the “Heart For Uganda” art contest. The contest is open until May 10 to children across the United States in kindergarten through grade 12. The entry fee for each work of art is $12, which will go directly to COTN. “Everything that comes from this [contest] will go right to Children of the Nations,” Suzzy says.

Suzzy and her husband Ron met several COTN children, including Monica, in 2009, when they helped build the Uganda Children’s Village in Lira. Around the time of that trip, Suzzy, an art lover, had the idea to raise money for COTN through a children’s art contest. She wanted to enlist the help of an artist whose work she enjoyed—a nature artist named Wyland—but she didn’t know how to get in touch with him. She prayed an opportunity would arise to move the contest forward. Several months later, Suzzy mentioned her idea to a friend, who had some surprising news: Wyland’s mother was a friend of hers.

Suzzy’s friend set up a meeting, and she and Wyland’s mother, Darlene Wyland, hit it off. Suzzy invited Darlene to visit her home, and Darlene took her up on the offer. “I was really praying that God would give me an opportunity to share my idea for this children’s art contest,” Suzzy says. Within minutes of entering Suzzy’s home, Darlene noticed a photo album filled with pictures from Suzzy’s 2009 trip to Uganda. Darlene suggested holding an art contest, judged by her son, to raise money for COTN.

Suzzy was thrilled. She unveiled her plan to Darlene, who helped her work out the details. Wyland was happy to be involved as well. “It’s such a neat God story, how He answers prayers,” Suzzy says. Wyland will give signed posters to the winners and host a pizza party for them and their parents, as well as six other randomly selected contestants at his home in Laguna Beach, California. Winners who cannot make it to the party will still receive a prize.

Suzzy will visit Monica and the other children at the Uganda Children’s Village in July, on a COTN Venture Trip. She’s excited for that journey, and for the outcome of the art contest. “God truly went before us in this project,” Suzzy says. “I figure if God has done this much so far, I can't wait to see what He does next.”

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