Imagine setting eyes on a pair of skis or skates for the first time in your life, with no knowledge of their purpose and little understanding of the conditions in which they are used.
That is one of many experiences that Shinghai and Charity Chipeta have been exposed to during a trip from their home in Malawi, Africa.
For Canadians, skiing and skating are ordinary experiences, but for the Chipetas, it was all new and wonderful.
Shinghai, 31, manages the Home of Hope, an orphanage where about 450 children live. The youngsters, typically orphaned by the ravages of AIDS, eat, go to school, play and sleep at the orphanage until they graduate from high school and leave to seek their independence.
Charity works in the administration of the orphanage, assisting her husband in correspondence with government officials, day-to-day business and a number of sponsors in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada, including St. Andrews United Church in Brantford.
With various individuals from the congregation of St Andrews having visited the Home of Hope since its inception in 1998, the Chipetas ventured abroad to meet their supporters, thank as many as possible face to face and nurture the relationships between Home of Hope and those who have helped along the way.
No previous experiences or travels could have prepared Shinghai or Charity for what awaited them when they arrived in Canada on Jan. 15. However, the couple encountered a real Canadian cold snap with enthusiasm. Mitts, hats, coats and boots were borrowed and many people stepped forward to show the Chipetas the highlights of the area, including Niagara Falls and the views along the Niagara Escarpment.
One of the Chipetas' stops included The Horn of Plenty in Dundas.
Denise Gloster, mother of Horn of Plenty owner Jason, said the Chipetas were given a tour of the store and introduced to foods they were not familiar with.
The Glosters and their visitors from Malawi also had lunch at the HOP Eatery, which recently opened at The Horn of Plenty.
“But what to serve our visitors who had just arrived the day before to Canada?” said Denise. “With chili and gourmet grilled cheese on the menu, we had a hit, and I'm afraid the bowl of chili wasn't deep enough.”
For more information about Home of Hope, visit http://www.homeofhope.org.uk/