Inside Melissa Joan Hart's Mission Trip to Zambia (Exclusive)

By Jennifer Drysdale‍

Melissa Joan Hart is making sure that her passion for giving back is passed down to her three sons. 

The actress has maintained a successful Hollywood career for decades, but in between projects, she's all about doing what she can for others. Recently, Hart introduced her oldest son, Mason, to her work with World Vision in Africa -- and ET was invited along on the mission of the good work. 

"I've wanted to go to Africa since I was really little," 13-year-old Mason told ET of what sparked his interest in joining the trip. "So, this was an opportunity... to explore different cultures." 

"Then I said, 'This is a mission trip, not a safari.' And what did you say?" Hart asked him.

"I want to go," Mason recalled. 

"He's like, 'I'm there. I'm doing it,'" Hart confirmed.

The actress and her husband, Mark Wilkerson, have sponsored three sisters in Zambia who are around the same ages as their own sons -- 13, 11 and six. They also purchased much-needed supplies for their entire village. 

"We brought them toys and necessities, socks and food," Hart shared, but noted that the goats they provided the village made a "big change." "They can then learn to farm and teach others and share the goats." 

"To see what the difference from our culture to their culture... running water is considered a luxury here," Wilkerson explained. 

Mason brought footballs to the community and showed them how to throw properly, and the family paid a visit to the community's school to learn about the struggles they're facing. The trip also served as a reminder of serious health issues, as one of the most heartbreaking moments for Hart and her family was meeting a 3-year-old girl named Maria. 

"She had gone maybe the first year of her life with really bad nutrition, and now she's three years old and still the size of a 1-year-old," Hart noted. "It was painful to watch her mother hold her and the nurse to sit there and tell us that they've tried different things with her. She's starting to put on weight... but she's just not absorbing the nutrition. And they're really worried about her and concerned about her." 

The mom of three is hoping her trip and what she's done for this village will inspire others to do the same. 

"How can you help one child when there's so many?" Hart confessed of her past worry. "What's been great about this trip is with World Vision, we've been able to go out and help so many. Just by sponsoring the children that we sponsor, that helps the whole village that they live in. ... And just by being here and witnessing and advocating and going back home and telling our stories -- I know, like, three of my friends have already sponsored children -- that's our hope, that we get more people involved with World Vision, to sponsor, to gift, and to really make a difference in these people's lives." 

"You can sponsor a child or you can just send the family a goat. You can send a family a bicycle, so those girls can get to school, or the mom can bring the crops into the market," she continued. "In our world, it's not that much to make a huge difference in their lives."

@Melissa Joan Hart

ETonline

 

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