US couple fundraises for Gweru schools

LINCOLN — Most small-business owners wouldn’t dream of shutting down operations for 24 days and travelling 14 500km to give some hope to children that have very little.


But then there’s the task of raising $3 500 to pay for the trip.

But that’s the commitment Joe Horacek and Joy Grgurich have made. Joe, who owns a screenprinting business and Joy, a bank teller, are setting their jobs aside and sacrificing money and vacation time in order to help construct school buildings in Zimbabwe.

They’re prepared to make many personal and financial sacrifices, in addition to getting a series of shots to protect themselves from diseases such as malaria.

So, why hop on a plane and fly 18 hours to a country that’s 12 800km from Lincoln?

“Trying to make a difference in the world is something we’ve always wanted to do,” the 28-year-old owner and operator of Little Mountain Print Shoppe, says. Joe and Joy are among 45 members of Maranatha Volunteers International — including a dozen from Lincoln — who will depart the US on July 23. Their destination: the Sikombingo Adventist Academy, located in Gweru region, between the cities of Harare and Bulawayo.

The task at hand: Construct at least a dozen school buildings for more than 800 students and teachers. They will return to the US on August 15.

“We’re going to help build schools and be a blessing to the local community in Zimbabwe,” Joy said. Maranatha Volunteers International, she said, is a privately-owned, nonprofit organisation and is not a church-affiliated group. To help defray expenses for the 24-day sojourn, Joe and Joy have created hand-drawn, customized T-shirts.

They will manufacture the shirts through Little Mountain Screenprinting, Joe’s small design/screenprinting business, they will apply the profit toward their expenses.

They have four sizes of T-shirts available, running from XS through XL, they may be seen at and are priced at $20 each. Sizes run from XS thru XL. Plus sizes are available by request; colour options are not.

The avid volunteers are also selling shoes, purchased by a donor and illustrated by Joe&Joy using permanent Sharpie markers.

“Normally, the donation for an art request like this varies from $75 to $150 per pair of shoes,” Joe said.

Examples may be viewed at Requests typically take seven to 14 working days to finish. The globally-minded couple hopes to raise enough funds to be able to buy and print Terry Schwartz of Lincoln, a seasoned world traveler and long-time Maranatha International volunteer, told the couple that new T-shirts in Zimbabwe are “hot commodities, because they rarely, if ever, receive anything new”. The anticipation of seeing the kids’ expressions is pretty incredible, said Joy.

She and her travel companion are both embarking on their first trip to a Third World country.

“The excitement is almost unbearable!” The young couple has dreamed of going to Africa since they were little kids. In the last year, the desire suddenly grew. Joy says her plans of returning to school in the fall made the trip seem implausible financially, but the opportunity has presented itself. “I knew I took a leap of faith and signed up,” Joy adds.

— Lincoln Journal Star

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