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Melissa Joan Hart Shares Story Behind Heartwarming Photo of Her Praying for Zambia Families

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On a recent trip to Africa, actress Melissa Joan Hart worked alongside World Vision and their child sponsorship program to bring supplies to villages in Zambia.


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Lindsay Elizabeth

In August, Melissa Joan Hart traveled to Zambia with her husband Mark Wilkerson, their oldest son, Mason, World Vision, and Entertainment Tonight. The ET production team was there to cover the trip, providing video footage of the adventure.

Hart and her husband took the trip to bring supplies to a specific village, where three sisters they sponsor live. The three sisters are 13, 11 and 6-years-old, all similar in age to their own children.

Not only did they bring supplies for their sponsor children, but they brought supplies for the entire village.

“We brought them toys and necessities, socks and food,” Hart shared with Entertainment Tonight. She added that they also provided goats for the villagers which made a “big change,” adding “they can then learn to farm and teach others and share the goats.” 

“To see what the difference from our culture to their culture… running water is considered a luxury here,” Wilkerson added. 

Following the trip, Hart shared a heartwarming photo of the family praying for locals, adding that it was her favorite part of the trip.

“My absolute favorite moment in Zambia this month was our first prayer with the families in Moyo AP. Sitting on a hillside with our new friends, feeling the hot breeze across my cheek with my eyes closed listening to the Tonga translation of the words the family prayed over everyone there,” Hart wrote.

“Everywhere we went we were met with dancing first and prayer next. The prayers consisted mainly of ‘thank you God for bringing our visitors from so far away just to see us and know us. And bless our time together. And bless @worldvisionusa for the work they do in our village,’” Hart added.

“We would usually end the visit with a prayer Mark or I would say blessing the people with health, crops of plenty and strong livestock. It was a magical time all around. And the dancing to the drums was incredible everywhere we went,” she concluded.

Hart shared with Entertainment Tonight that she hopes that the trip will open the eyes of her followers to the help that is needed in countries like Zambia.

“How can you help one child when there’s so many?” Hart asked. “What’s been great about this trip is with World Vision, we’ve been able to go out and help so many. Just by sponsoring the children that we sponsor, that helps the whole village that they live in. … And just by being here and witnessing and advocating and going back home and telling our stories—I know, like, three of my friends have already sponsored children—that’s our hope, that we get more people involved with World Vision, to sponsor, to gift, and to really make a difference in these people’s lives.”

Hart emphasized how many different options there are to help support families and children, from small donations to larger ones.

“You can sponsor a child or you can just send the family a goat. You can send a family a bicycle, so those girls can get to school, or the mom can bring the crops into the market,” she said. “In our world, it’s not that much to make a huge difference in their lives.”

The New York native shared that the hardest part of the trip was meeting a young, severely malnourished girl named Maria.

“She had gone maybe the first year of her life with really bad nutrition, and now she’s 3-years-old and still the size of a 1-year-old,” Hart shared. “It was painful to watch her mother hold her and the nurse to sit there and tell us that they’ve tried different things with her. She’s starting to put on weight… but she’s just not absorbing the nutrition. And they’re really worried about her and concerned about her.” 

Hart hopes that with the help of World Vision, there will be fewer kids in Maria’s situation, and more that are living healthy lives.

You can learn more about World Visions child sponsorship program here.