KISS Star Makes Unique Business Deal in Zambia

By Cynthia Price, Director of Communications

Gene Simmons is a rock star, a reality-TV celebrity and a businessman. He recently entered into a most unusual business contract.

youth in doorway

Esther doesn’t want to give up on her nursing education, but money is scarce.

It all began with a two-hour car ride in Zambia, with the final stretch along a bumpy dirt road, delivering Gene and his wife, Shannon, at the home of Esther, a young woman who recently lost her mother. She is being raised by her grandmother in a small house with a dirt floor and a thin metal roof. A few chickens scratch in the dirt yard.

She is excited to meet her ChildFund sponsor and has called her family together to join in greeting Gene and Shannon. Esther shows the couple where she sleeps with her sister and grandmother. She shares how she walks 6 kilometers to sell vegetables. There are days, though, when she and her family have no food. And while she loves school, she has to walk long distances to attend. But she doesn’t complain. She has a dream – she wants to be a nurse.

Shannon and Gene Simmons in Zambia

Shannon and Gene talk with Esther and her family.

“So, why do you want to be a nurse?” Gene asks. Esther doesn’t hesitate: “If there were more nurses, my mother would not have passed away,” she tells him. Her mother died only last month and her father died when she was five months old.

Gene pauses and looks at Shannon, who nods in unspoken agreement. “I am a businessman,” Gene begins.” I want to make you a deal. We will pay all of your expenses for school.”

Sponsor hugs child

Esther, happy to learn she can continue school, embraces Shannon.

Loud chanting and cheering break out among Esther’s family members.

Gene isn’t finished, though. “You have to do well in school,” he tells her. Esther nods vigorously in agreement.

Shannon adds, “You don’t owe us anything. You don’t have to pay us back. You owe us to be a good nurse.”

As Gene leaves the village, he reflects on the time spent with Esther. “We just met an amazing 16-year-old girl with lots of charisma, who can change the cycle, but the odds are stacked against her,” he says.

“We can help,” he notes. “And ChildFund points us in the right direction. Hopefully, she’ll become a great nurse.”

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