Lineboro resident Kelly Hill was helping to build schools near Murewa, Zimbabwe, this February when she met two sisters, Cecelia and Tatuwa.

"The girls were shoeless and had no school uniforms," 'Hill said. "They lived with their grandmother because their parents passed away from AIDS. I paid their school fees for a number of years and bought them uniforms, shoes and socks. I bought the clothing and shoes because I wanted them to feel like a part of their schoolmates."

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Hill, a member of the Shiloh United Methodist Church in Hampstead, is part of the Zimbabwe Volunteers in Mission team. The team is formed by members of Methodist churches in the Baltimore-Washington region. The group spent two and half weeks in February constructing classrooms, creating crafts and singing songs with the Mashambanhaka Mission School children.

Hill, who has traveled to Africa five times, worked with a team of 14 people to complete two classrooms that will serve 320 students at the Mashambanhaka Mission School. She said the group works to build the schools so the children will not be forced to have class outside.

Despite the poverty in the community, Hill said, the children are very studious.

"The kids so wanted to learn about America and know the similarities between themselves and the students here," Hill said. "They have such an interest in learning."

Charlie Moore, the Zimbabwe Volunteers in Mission team leader, said Hill is really committed to the mission.

"Kelly gets along well with the children," Moore said. "We work on a ministry of presence. What we've found over the years is that more impact is achieved when we build relationships rather than just sending money."

Moore said Hill spent a lot of time visiting the nearby Fairfield Orphanage. She also passed out 650 reusable water bottles to the school children.

"They used to have to travel well over a mile to get fresh water," Moore said. "Our team raised money to build a deep well so they don't have to do that anymore."

The mission team also included a doctor and two nurses who worked at the village's medical clinic, distributing medical supplies and dental care.

"I saw two babies so malnourished that their skin was falling off their bodies," Hill said. "A lot of it, we can't do anything about, but at least I can bring light to the situation there."

Moore said the money comes from various fundraisers such as church-sponsored spaghetti dinners and musicals. Each team member contributed $3,000 for travel, so 100 percent of the funds go to the mission.

"We raised $70,000 for this trip," Moore said. "Over half of it came from special appeals to our friends and family."

Hill, who gives a lot of her time locally to the Carroll Hospital Center and the Carroll Community College Foundation Board, said the trip helps her put things in perspective.

"I think those folks are a lot more spiritual and religious and I think that's what makes them so happy," Hill said. "It's an incredible experience and truly impacts their community. We touch thousands of people in such a short period."

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