The Hazledine Foundation was set up by Claire and Sam Hazledine to empower young people to believe in themselves and their potential and to give them the tools and resources they need to have happy nows and compelling futures, so they can lead fulfilling and productive lives.
We believe that everyone matters and that every child, regardless of where they were born, deserves a great start in life.
In 2013 Claire and Sam watched a movie called Machine Gun Preacher. It’s about a man called Sam Childers who started life very much on the wrong side of the tracks, falling into a life of gangs, drugs, violence and crime, to the point where at his lowest he became an armed guard for drug dealers. Childers became extremely disturbed at how he was living and he distanced himself from his former life, returning to his church. In 1998 he went to Southern Sudan to help repair huts. During this trip Childers came across the body of a young child torn apart by a landmine, and found out firsthand about children being mutilated, children being made to kill their parents and brothers and sisters, and children being turned into child soldiers and being forced to commit atrocities by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). He made a pledge to do whatever it took to help the people, and especially the children, of Southern Sudan.
Childers decided to start an orphanage, but there was a problem, the children who so needed the orphanage weren’t able to get to it because the LRA were brutalising them and stopping anyone getting to them. No one was going in to get these children out; they had been forgotten.
So when the orphanage was finished Childers began to lead armed missions to rescue children from the hands of the LRA. It wasn’t long before tales of his exploits spread and villagers began to call him ‘The Machine Gun Preacher.’
13 years later the orphanage he started is the largest in Southern Sudan and has fed and housed over 1,000 children. Today more than 200 children call the orphanage home, and Childers has set up other orphanages and together they feed over 5,000 people daily.
In October 2013 Childers became the first American to win the Mother Theresa Award for Social Justice, joining the ranks of people like the Dalai Lama.
But there are still many Sudanese children suffering and in need of rescue.
Which brings us back to the story. Claire and Sam saw the movie and made the decision that we wanted to help in some way. Isn’t it funny how so often when you make a real decision unexplainable things just start to happen? A couple of weeks later Sam was buying lunch and saw a flyer saying that Sam Childers was speaking in Queenstown. It seemed like a huge coincidence and he was excited and took the flyer home. But then he got busy with life and forgot the date, until one night Claire had moved the flyer onto the bench and Sam picked it up. The talk was on that night and had started half an hour ago! Sam rushed down to the church he was speaking at and fortunately he hadn’t started.
Childers told an inspiring story of rescuing children from absolute brutality and then looking after them in his orphanages. He also shared that they hadn’t done a rescue mission since 2010 because it cost about $10,000USD to put a mission together, and that money was needed to feed all the children they had.
You know how sometimes you get a feeling that you need to act, that you can’t not do something? Well Sam got that feeling, and he felt like I was in that room for a reason. He’s always trusted his instincts and therefore he went up to speak to Sam Childers afterwards.
Sam asked how many children they would get out on a rescue mission. “About twenty”, Childers replied. On the spot Sam committed to personally funding a rescue mission.
“I didn’t do this to get any publicity; I wasn’t going to tell anyone about it, it just seemed like the right thing to do”, says Hazledine. “So far we’ve funded three missions and saved 17 children, it’s one of the best things we’ve ever done. It really matters.”
All proceeds from Unfair Fight are being directed to South Sudan and through the Hazledine Foundation Claire and Sam continue to fund rescue missions and to support the orphanages to give these children a chance at life.