Seneca County native Fred H. Scaife has published a book, "Eyes of Hope: Caring for Orphans and Widows in Africa." The book is a memoir about the work of Scaife and his late wife, Elsie, who founded the Bunia Children's Hope Center in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa.
Now a resident of Minnetonka, Minn., Scaife retired from an executive position at Control Data in 1992. That same year, he had open heart surgery and spent four months recovering.
Once he was feeling strong enough, Elsie advised him to "get out and do something," so he signed up to volunteer with the International Executive Service Corps.
She traveled with him to assignments in the Czech Republic, Ukraine, and Belgium. A former elementary school teacher, Elsie also took instruction in English as a second language.
In 1998, Fred went to serve as a consultant at Daystar University, an interdenominational Christian liberal arts university in Nairobi, Kenya The student body is comprised of more than 4,000 students from more than 25 African countries. Fred's job was to help students become computer-literate. Elsie taught ESL classes.
In 1999, the Scaifes met Balikenga and Furaha Bisoke, who had fled from their homeland in Bunia during a violent civil war in the Congo. They registered for classes at Daystar and graduated in 2004. Their goal was to take what they had learned and return to Bunia.
After losing husbands and fathers in the war, the many widows and orphans had no means of support and desperately needed assistance. In addition to the trauma they had witnessed, AIDS and other diseases were endangering their lives. Hunger and homelssness were rampant.
The Bisokes came to the Scaifes for advice on how to get started on their plans.
Once a framework was decided, the Bisokes went on to Bunia to locate orphans, and the Scaifes returned to the United States to make an appeal for donations. One stop was First Presbyterian Church in Tiffin.
From those modest beginnings, the two couples worked together to establish an orphanage, school and clinic.
"Eyes of Hope" narrates the challenges they overcame and includes many stories of children who found support through the center. The book also includes 16 pages of color photographs that document the progress and success of the project. The Bunia Children's Hope Center now serves 700 children and provides Christian-based instruction.
Copies of "Eyes of Hope" are available at Tiffin Seneca Public Library, they can be purchased at Paper and Ink in downtown Tiffin or online from Beaver's Pond Press, www.beaverspondpress.com.