Beacon of Hope

17 11 2011

BY SHERRI KIRKPATRICK, Independence, Missouri, USA

“OK, children, time to take your seats.” Though this is a request most of us heard many times from our grade-school teachers, it is a new and exciting one for some 450 orphans and vulnerable children in Zambia.

For the last two years these children had sat on floor mats or makeshift furniture made from concrete blocks and rough boards. They painstakingly copied their lessons into small exam books. Now, thanks to a Tangible Love grant, they are enjoying school desks and textbooks.

Nearly one of 10 Zambians is an orphan. One of the world’s poorest countries, Zambia has alarmingly few ways to provide even basic necessities for these children. The Copperbelt Province once was a thriving mining area. The closure of several mines in recent years evaporated jobs while HIV/AIDS was becoming prevalent.
Many little communities are struggling. The task of raising children left when their parents die often falls on grandmothers who already live on the margin.

The Kafwa, longtime health workers I trained, have provided invaluable volunteer health services for more than 20 years. Regularly making home-based visits to help people suffering from AIDS and other debilitating diseases, the Kafwa began seeing rising numbers of children not attending school.

Concerned about their welfare, Evangelist Margaret Chilolo, Pastor Dismas Mulenga, the Kafwa, and other church leaders decided to open the doors of Community of Christ churches in Kasompe and Chipulukusu and turn the one-room sanctuaries into schools.

Staffed by volunteers, the schools started with no budget. With the help of HealthEd Connect, and eventually World Hunger and Tangible Love grants, the schools have been able to hire and train teachers, provide textbooks, begin building classrooms, provide school lunches (three days per week), and develop a solid organizational and financial infrastructure.

A World Hunger grant provided funds for a holding tank, metal stand, and submersible electric pump so the school at Chipulukusu could have a reliable water supply for preparing meals and keeping students hydrated and clean.

Antony, 13 and in the third grade, dreams of becoming a pilot. He is among the orphans enjoying the new amenities. He and his grandmother struggle daily to meet basic needs. School, however, is a beacon of hope. When asked about his teacher, he smiled infectiously and said, “We love her!”




2 responses

17 11 2011
Terry Flowers

Ending poverty out of love…not obligation or coercion..,and love is not only given, but shared.

17 11 2011
Terry Flowers

Thank you for sharing this story. Blessings ~

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