Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thanks Al “Fishticles” Goldstein

IPA Foundation: ‘Adrian Suskin
Center for Zimkids’ Dedicated
Built by Orphans, Run by Orphans & Benefiting
Orphans in Zimbabwe

ANC 747-400 CAPT.

“Flying with Adrian Suskin, was something I looked forward
to. He was a great stick and a cool, competent, aircraft commander with
a great sense of offbeat, Monty Python-style humor. I think everyone he flew with
got a nickname and felt good. Now he has managed to overcome adversity in his
own life by blessing others. You are an inspiration to many, Ade. I am proud and
honored to have you as a friend.” Liam Lang 757/767 F/O SDF

It was with a profound sense of horror and loss that Adrian was forced to give up
flying when he was diagnosed with Stage Four Lung Cancer in March 2008. After radical,
aggressive radiation and chemotherapy, the spread of the cancer was halted and
contained with a steady regimen of chemotherapy.

After his initial battle with the disease, Adrian took a few weeks off to visit Bulawayo,
Zimbabwe, the city and country of his birth. With the loss of his career and
the near loss of his life, he was confused, depressed and in search of his fundamental
roots. The continent of Africa still holds a part of his heart and soul. During one of the
most trying moments of his treatment, Adrian realized, “I grew up in Zimbabwe. I was
educated and had a great life there. What can I do for Zimbabwe?”

While visiting Zimbabwe, he met Dennis Gaboury, an American, who has been saving,
living and working with orphans in Bulawayo since 2005. A sculptor, Dennis, has
a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education and a Masters degree in Business Administration.
Dennis talked to Adrian about the orphan project.

Zimbabwe has been reduced to one of the poorest countries on earth. Compounding
their desperate circumstances, today, 25 percent of the 12-million people living
in Zimbabwe have AIDS. Thousands of innocent children in Zimbabwe have been
made orphans by the ravages of poverty and disease.

When Dennis first began working with AIDS orphans, he operated out of a single
classroom in a school located in one of the poorest areas of Bulawayo. This meager
setting was all they had for the first three years of operation. Dennis tried working with
different NGOs and aid groups, but a lot of the money they donated was being siphoned
off by administrative fees or government corruption.

As Dennis recalls, “By 2009, we were serving 65 children and their caretakers with
an annual budget of $12,000, which we raised from the toys and dolls that the children made and sold. We met on weekends and engaged the kids in activities such as
chess, soccer, performing and singing. Our activities
were run by our newly formed, Council of Elders
(our 15-18 year olds). We also tried to
distribute monthly food baskets to the children and
their caregivers. Then Adrian Suskin swooped in
from America and became our tailwind.”

“From the first minute, Adrian seemed like a lifelong
friend,” Tinashe Basa, remembers.

Basa began as a 17-year-old volunteer and is
now the Director of Zimkids.

“He took our Elders to the local Chinese restaurant
as thanks for their work, joined in with the dancing,
and made friends with the younger children. We
knew he cared about us.”

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, Adrian decided
to help people far worse off than he. He learned what
was needed at Zimkids, joined the Board of Trustees,
and got to work raising money for the hungry and in
some cases, sick young children. Adrian returned to
Baltimore, with a new sense of purpose and mission.

He started by donating his own money and time to
Zimkids and then took his plea to his friends and
caretakers. Every three weeks, when Adrian got
“poisoned” (as he refers to chemotherapy), he approached
doctors, nurses and hospital administrators
asking them for unwanted medical supplies and
drugs so desperately needed in Zimbabwe.

He devised ingenious ways to get these supplies
directly into Bulawayo clinics while avoiding corrupt
officials. He called UPS, FedEx and any freight
forwarder who could help him get this valuable
cargo to the dedicated doctors still working in underfunded
and overwhelmed hospitals. He worked tirelessly,
despite the nauseous exhaustion induced by
his chemotherapy regimen.

Then he approached the IPA Foundation and requested
that the IPA Foundation Trustees consider
Zimkids as a grant recipient. One of the four
trustees, Captain Gary Eady, wrote quoting the IPA
Foundation Mission Statement: “The IPA Foundation
is dedicated to providing for the well-being of
children and their basic needs, with a focus on making
life changing differences for children with exceptional
medical requirements. Grant requests that
match the mission statement and are 5013C non
profit organizations are well received by the Foundation
in awarding grants. In addition, if the request
is submitted by an IPA Foundation Member who is
actively involved in the organization that will benefit
from the grant, by investing their time, talent and
money; further consideration will be considered for
that request.”

“Adrian has been a longtime supporter of the IPA
Foundation. Even though he is battling a life threatening
illness, he finds the time and energy to serve as
a Trustee with Zimkids and travels to Africa as often
as he can to oversee projects at the facility. Adrian
exemplifies charity, caring and giving. The situation
in Zimbabwe is dire. The IPA Foundation is glad to
be able to make a positive impact where
it is so very much needed. Thank you
Adrian, for doing all that you do. We at
the Foundation are pleased and proud to
help Zimkids.”

Zimkids Founder, Dennis Gaboury, continues:

“As Zimkids grew to 160 orphans, the
primary school could no longer contain
it. We applied for land from the
City Council and were awarded 2.5
acres. A wonderful, young, architect drew
up plans for a campus with a
computer center, office space, clinic,
kitchen, resource center and market garden.
We had no money to build, but we had a
dream,” says Gaboury.

“Then Adrian landed with a group of friends and
relatives and a grant from the IPA Foundation. The
next thing we knew, our building fund was brimming.”

This can be seen on the mural on the wall constructed
around the campus. It boasts a jet proudly
decorated in an IPA paint scheme.

“The building project was a great opportunity to
train older orphans who’d just finished school and were
willing to learn about construction. Thus began a Vocational
Training Program. We dug trenches, mixed concrete,
laid block, plastered, sawed, roofed, electrified,
welded, painted and planted. The electrical grid in Zimbabwe
is unreliable, and antiquated, but thanks to the
IPA, we are completely solar powered. Two of our
students were trained and then installed all the solar
panels, equipment and electrical wiring throughout
the center. IPA grants also enabled the purchase of
laptop computers for use by all our orphans.”

By opening day, the Adrian Suskin Center
for Zimkids, built by orphans, run by orphans, benefiting
orphans - offered a range of vocational and
educational programs that, according to U.S. Ambassador
Wharton, “should be a model for real orphan
empowerment throughout Africa.”

Every skill learned offers these students a critical
advantage in a country suffering 90% unemployment.

On March 23, 2013 the Center was officially dedicated
in honor of Adrian with a full afternoon of
dancing, singing and skits organized entirely by the

“It was wonderful to watch the emotion in Adrian’s
face,” says Tinashe Basa.

“He’s done so much for us, and everyone was so
glad to have a chance to thank him.” The Carved
Rock honoring the naming of the Campus after
Adrian says “Simunye,” in Ndebele, that means “Together.”

Today, according to Dennis, Zimkids serves
nearly 200 children, ages 3 to 17.

“We no longer give monthly food distributions.
Instead we raise our own food in the greenhouse provided
by a grant from the U.S. Embassy. We now
have dreams of a chicken and egg project. Donated
sewing machines form the basis of a sewing program
that hopefully will become a business in which we
make school uniforms. Our ‘Girl Welding’ project is
manufacturing burglar bars and provides creative
outlets for aspiring artists. 70% of Zimkids recently
passed their ‘High School Leavers’ exam when the
national average was 18%. We want to raise those results
to 90% in the future.”

Dennis adds, “We want to train our kids in all
areas of business operation, management, budgeting
and planning so they can build their lives. We are
replacing sad memories with happy ones—memories
of making that first cut with a circular saw, that first
A on a test, that first payment for work well
done. Our kids now have memories of a childhood
full of smiles, hugs and peer encouragement. They
also know that getting is not as important as giving;
that freedom lies in ability and applied skill, and that
love is best expressed by teaching others the tools
that lead to a life of worth.”

Many pilots at UPS have wondered what kept
Adrian busy these past five years. Many pilots have
wondered about the impact the IPA Foundation has
on children in need in the U.S. and around the world.
Ours is a global company, our philanthropy has
global consequences. For those interested in learning
more about the Zimkids story, please access
their site at, or check out their
Facebook page at
For those of you who are not yet a part of the IPA
Foundation, but want a convenient and effective way
to express your sense of altruism, please contact the
Foundation through their link on the IPA website:

Carpe Diem.

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