Tag Archive: Zambia

Saved from early marriage by a goat

By Laura Reinhardt

Newly married, Saviour Dene had a big problem. Her new husband would not accept her daughter from a previous relationship as his child.

He told Saviour that he’d married her, but not her daughter.

Saviour did not know what to do so she talked to World Vision community development worker, Seth Siamugande.

“If I had power, I would swallow my daughter so she is no longer there,” Saviour told Seth. “It’s a big burden.”

Seth knew exactly what to do. He took the little girl, Modester, under his wing. That was 2007. Today Modester is 18 and still Seth’s favorite.

“She is one of the children that I have on my heart,” he says. “That child has gone through tough moments.”

I am their mother
Children living in rural areas in southern Zambia face a thorny path. Education isn’t a given. Nor is food. Being an orphan limits access to these even more.

Modester considers herself a single orphan — meaning she has one living parent —though Seth says she rarely sees her mother anymore. Now Modester lives with her 80-year-old grandmother, Noria.

In addition to being rejected by her family, Modester faced hunger. Sometimes she ate only one meal a day. She envied neighbors who had three meals. Sometimes when they had nothing, Modester would go into the bush to find wild okra, which fills up empty bellies, but doesn’t offer much nutritional value.

Grandmother Noria is raising Modester’s cousin, Evelyn, along with two mentally and physically disabled grandchildren—Sydney and Junior. It’s too much for such an elderly woman so Modester has assumed a lot of the parenting responsibilities for her younger cousins. A girl who grew up practically motherless now has three charges of her own.

“I am their mother,” she says, now that Noria has left to care for a sick relative leaving the younger children in Modester’s care.

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Modester and Evelyn holding a baby goat.

“She helps us with the preparation of our food. Also she draws water for us,” says 9-year-old Evelyn. Modester spends time helping Evelyn with her homework.

Modester says, “I encourage her to go to school and study. Sometimes I get a piece of paper and we do a bit of solving mathematics.”

Evelyn wants to be a teacher. She looks up to her cousin. She appreciates the hard work the teen does for herself and her cousins, but she also admires Modester’s education.

It’s an education made possible partially by the gift of a goat.

Goats: A gift that lasts
What a difference a single goat makes. It’s offered her a path forward toward higher education. “Without the goats, I might have been married,” she says.

In the Sinazongwe Area Development Program, World Vision offered a gift of a goat to orphans or especially vulnerable children. Modester qualified and when she was in the second grade, she received that gift.  It didn’t take long for that single goat to reproduce. Her herd expanded to 12 goats.

As the goats multiplied, so did Modester’s hopes.

“Goats gave me hope because I started to dream of who I wanted to be and I have seen that dream come to pass,” says Modester. Her dreams include being a nurse because she likes helping others.

Modester sold a few goats at a time, always being careful to keep a couple of the animals in reserve for emergencies. Some went to pay people to work in their fields so the family had enough food to eat. Some went toward clothing for the children in the family. Some paid for her education needs.

Goats are part of the equation and child sponsorship is another. Modester appreciates how supportive the staff has been, especially Seth. They’ve provided for both the family’s physical needs as well as her education. Seth is always there with advice about things like school and boys and sometimes even a little pocket money,

“World Vision staff kept encouraging me to work hard in school and to remain focused,” she says.

And focus she did. Modester just completed university-level exams. The results were astounding. Modester, a girl whose family threw her away, is one of the top students in all of Zambia. That’s very unusual for a youth from a small, rural community.

Faith strengthened by World Vision
The staff also nurtures the spiritual growth of all the children in the project. Seth started a Good News Club and Bible study for the sponsored children when he came to Sinazongwe ADP. Through Seth, Modester learned more about God’s love for her and her faith grew.

She now has a father who will never abandon her.

She always goes to God with her needs. She knows that He answers prayers because: “Whenever I prayed asking God for something, it happened and among those whom God used to respond to my needs is World Vision and the staff.”

Her faith and prayers are being put to the test as she prepares for university. These school costs are too great even with the assistance of the goats.  So she hopes for either a scholarship or someone to help pay for the university fees.

A university degree will bring her closer to her dream — one that goes beyond becoming a nurse.

“I think when I have enough money I [will] think of helping orphans,” says Modester. “That’s important because I’ve felt what being an orphan is. It’s very hard.”

But things that are difficult won’t stop this determined young lady — not with Seth, a herd of goats, and the love of a faithful Father leading her on.

They can do anything; they just need a believer.

Sponsor a child today
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Story courtesy of World Vision US.

Magical moments in the kitchen

by Laura Reinhardt
World Vision US

Cooking with your grandmother, sharing a meal with family—these are some of the special moments we look forward to during the Christmas season, or remember fondly from past holidays.

For 9-year-old Rosemary, the magic of cooking and eating together is a big part of her dream to become a chef!

See what’s making Rosemary’s dream possible.
***

When I was a little girl, the Christmas season meant a trip from our Midwest home to my grandmother’s house in North Carolina. That was such a special time for me. She always kept a jar of Hershey kisses in her kitchen, which she called silver bells. And best of all, she let me help her with holiday baking.

I would pull a chair up to the kitchen counter and watch the magic as she creamed the Crisco and sugar. Then she added the eggs. Sometimes she even let me crack one. And then there were the dry ingredients to be carefully measured, sifted, and poured into the sugar mixture.

She taught me that in making cakes, once the wet and dry ingredients were added together I needed to be very quiet to prevent the cake from falling. Or maybe she just used that as an excuse for a little peace and quiet. I was a very talkative child.

Cookies were my favorite, though. I loved dropping dough by the teaspoon onto the cookie sheet. I might’ve snuck a few of those, though I’m sure I wasn’t as stealthy as I thought.

And then best of all, she let me lick the beaters and the bowl. I’m pretty sure that was my main motivation to help her bake!

One Christmas, I had the crazy idea to melt wax and pour the liquid into cookie cutters to create ornaments. My grandmother didn’t hesitate. She pulled old candles out of drawers and melted them down. And they weren’t even that bad as ornaments.

But to a child, having an adult who took my ideas seriously and believed in me—that meant the world to me. Her faith made me think that I could dream big.

This year, I got to witness that same special bond between a young Zambian girl, Rosemary, and her grandmother, Patricia.

Rosemary longs to be a chef. “I dream in my heart,” she says. Patricia fuels that dream by encouraging Rosemary to cook for her extended family.

Rosemary

Rosemary’s specialty is nshima—a corn porridge that’s a staple in Zambia. Watching the process reminded me of those holidays in my grandmother’s kitchen.

Patricia pulls the pot from the rack. It’s a special pot that fits 9-year-old Rosemary’s petite frame. Rosemary gets water from a tap near the family’s home and sets the filled pot on the wood fire.

Once the water boils, she adds finely ground corn flour and immediately begins stirring. That’s important to prevent any lumps from forming. Rosemary stirs while the porridge is still runny, but as it thickens, Patricia takes over with her work-strengthened hands. They sing together—their voices rising in harmony—filled with the joy of being together.

Then Patricia pulls out a little salt and adds it to the nshima.

This is significant because not so long ago, Patricia and her husband, Danford, couldn’t afford even this most basic staple.

They struggled just to feed their family. Patricia and Danford both came from impoverished families, and their own followed the same path. Their grandchildren, like Rosemary, were destined to continue in poverty.

But life changed with a gift of just five goats from World Vision’s Gift Catalog.

“Goats actually change everything,” Patricia says. “Goats give health to a family. Goats give education to a family. Goats bring food to a family.”

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Before the goats, Danford and Patricia took any sort of work they could find to provide meager amounts of food. But it wasn’t enough.

Patricia also used to walk a couple of hours just to get clean water, which took her away from her children.

When Rosemary’s father, Justine, was a boy, he had to leave school. He couldn’t concentrate because of his hunger. But today, he sees more hope for Rosemary.

The goats came just in time for her.

They’re multiplying rapidly, so by the time Rosemary enters secondary school, there will be plenty of goats to sell to pay for her education.

World Vision’s child sponsorship came to Rosemary’s community not long after the goats. Because of sponsorship, her school has brand new latrines. Her family also got new mosquito nets, helping to reduce malaria.

And Rosemary won’t have to miss or be late for school because of getting water. Child sponsorship brought clean water to just steps away from her grandparents’ home!

All of this combined means she won’t have to give up on her dream.

And what’s her dream? She imagines herself working in a kitchen—preparing nshima for dozens and dozens of guests instead of only her family.

Rosemary is free to imagine this future because of the gift of goats, her sponsor, and her grandmother’s nourishment of that goal. Just like how my grandmother fed both my body and soul during those magical moments in her kitchen.

And after all, isn’t that a big part of the Christmas season—a child’s beautiful dreams? Consider giving Gifts of Hope here: https://www.worldvision.com.my/goh-catalogue

Story courtesy of World Vision US.

Unusual angels: Gift Catalogue chickens a family’s saving grace

By Laura Reinhardt, WVUS

“He’s a town boy.”
That’s how World Vision Zambia communicator Agatha Mali describes 4-year-old Chansa Dibula.

She means that his life is easier than many other children in rural southern Zambia. He’s not malnourished. He’s physically healthy. He doesn’t have to walk for miles to gather water. His family has reliable income so that when he’s old enough, he’ll be able to attend school. They’ll have the money for the fees, uniforms, and school supplies.

That’s still a few years away. Right now he’s content to spend his days at the home of his maternal grandmother, Esnart Sianchwale. He loves hopping around on one foot across the family compound. Sometimes he’ll play soccer with his uncle, 9-year-old Resheal, who’s more like a brother to him. Life is good for these two boys.

But Esnart, who is also Resheal’s mother, remembers a time when they only had hunger and heartache.

‘The story turned upside down’
Esnart’s first husband died in 1999, leaving her to care for her children and elderly mother. He was the family’s breadwinner so his death meant disaster for the family.

“When he died, the story turned upside down,” says Esnart’s 18-year-old son, Bee. “It was easy to notice the difference. I used to wear nice clothes. I used to eat every day.”

Both Bee and his older brother, Under, excelled in their studies, but without food to fortify them, they faltered. “I would lose concentration in school. I wouldn’t want to be with my friends because I was hungry,” says Under, now 25. He dropped out of school in grade 10 and never returned.

Bee also struggled in school. “My performance was being affected. I couldn’t concentrate,” he says. He had to repeat sixth grade because he missed a full term. “It was hard to cope with hunger.”

When Esnart found piecework, she earned just a bit of mealie meal — ground corn used as a staple in Zambia. Sometimes that was all they would eat for a day, and many times they had no food.

Esnart’s own struggles with hunger were nothing compared to the guilt and anguish she felt over watching her children suffer. The children came to her and said, “’Mommy, we are hungry. We need food.’” She sometimes ran away from them into the bush just to sit alone with her grief. “Why are my children going through all this? What am I going to do? Am I going to manage to take them out of this situation? Am I going to be able to see them reach their potential?”

esnart
The answer to the last two questions seemed to be ‘no.’ Esnart remarried in 2003 and hoped that things would improve, but frequent fights between husband and wife meant no return to the better days of her first marriage. A few years later, Esnart became deathly ill. Her husband didn’t take care of her, so she took her children and returned to her home village.

Esnart recovered from her mysterious illness. She had her HIV status checked but thankfully tested negative. A few visits from her husband and attempts at reconciliation left Esnart pregnant with her youngest child, Resheal. Ultimately her marriage failed, but things did begin to look up for Esnart’s family. It came in the most unlikely of forms — chickens.

Gift Catalogue chickens bring hope
Through World Vision’s Gift Catalogue, she received four chickens and one rooster.

Owen Sikuneta, World Vision’s Community Development Worker in the area, comes from this area. He knows of his neighbors’ struggles. One of the families who stood out as having special need was Esnart’s. So when it came time to choose families to receive the chickens, he knew he would recommend her.

Before the chickens arrived, Esnart received training on best practices in building a chicken coop. She hesitated to begin because she didn’t dare to hope for a better future.

“Please make sure you’re going to do this. We are telling the truth” Owen told her. “These chickens are going to be a stepping stone to move your family from one level to another.” So Esnart got busy building the chicken coop.

“My heart was ignited with so much joy,” says Esnart. When the chickens arrived, she named them.

“I gave them names because those chickens were a gift,” she says. “I had a special relationship with those chickens.” She wanted to be able to call them and have them respond to those names.

Esnart learned about livestock management from World Vision. Experts educated her about the right foods to feed her chickens so they would produce more eggs, multiply, and thrive.

And thrive they did! From five, within a year Esnart’s animals numbered 200 roosters, 124 chickens, and eight baby chicks.

“God was so good. He made the chickens reproduce very fast, as though he was looking forward to reducing our hunger,” says Bee.

In fact, when World Vision gathered all the chicken recipients together to evaluate, Esnart’s chickens from the Gift Catalogue had reproduced the most. World Vision gave her more wire for her chicken coop to accommodate her expanded brood.

When Resheal was only a tiny boy, he developed a knack for knowing which hens were ready to lay eggs. He discovered their roosting hiding places. Then Esnart would come across him with eggs boiling in a pot. He smiles shyly as she tells this story.

esnart2
To this day, his favorite food is eggs with beans.

Prospering despite hard times
“The chickens have been a foundation,” says Esnart. “Without these chickens, my family would have been wallowing in poverty.”

At that time, the chickens acted as a sort of savings bank for Esnart and her family. She began selling chickens to local restaurants. Through those sales, Esnart bought turkeys and cattle along with seeds and fertilizer to increase the size of her garden.

Esnart’s family used to do all the work by hand and couldn’t grow enough food to feed even themselves. Owning cattle means they can plow their field so they’ve been able to expand the size of their crop. That means Esnart can feed her family and even have crops left over to sell.

World Vision’s Owen says, “I feel good to see my community have three meals. I don’t like seeing them suffering.”

Most mornings, Esnart works in one of two fields filled with maize, mbambara nuts, and cowpeas. When school is out, Resheal joins her.

“As a result of all these things put together, we are food secure despite that we are experiencing drought now. Hunger is a thing of the past now because we do not depend on maize alone for our survival,” says Esnart. “World Vision already laid a foundation for us, which has made it possible for us to survive even when times are hard, as the case is now.”

Much of Zambia depends on Sinazongwe’s Lake Kariba for its hydroelectric power. With the water levels receding, many parts of the country face rolling blackouts to try to conserve electricity.

kariba
Picture of Lake Kariba from zambezitraveller.com

El Nino has led to drought across southern Africa, causing crops to fail and people in southern Zambia to face hunger. Thanks to the chicken savings banks and the work that World Vision had done to train farmers on drought-resistant crops, many of the families within World Vision’s Area Development Projects (ADPs) aren’t feeling the pangs of hunger.

A better life through education and child sponsorship
Esnart wants her children and grandchildren to have access to a better future. “I chose to educate my children because I wanted them to live a better life later in the future, not a difficult life, like what I had myself,” she says.

The animals allow her to keep Resheal and Bee in school, something she couldn’t do for Under. The young man tested well in exams and wanted to be a doctor. Sadly, that’s a lost opportunity for Under.

Leaving school early meant that he didn’t learn to speak English. In Zambia, the more profitable jobs require fluent English. That means lost income potential for Under. He yearns to be setting an example for his younger brothers. “I should’ve been supporting my siblings,” he says. “My siblings were supposed to look up to me.”

Bee and Resheal both dream of being doctors, so perhaps Under has been more of an influence on his brothers than he knows.

One thing that’s certain, Chansa looks up to Resheal. They spend much of their free time together when Resheal isn’t at school. (Zambian children attend school for three months, followed a month off throughout the year.) When they’re not playing, sometimes Resheal brings Chansa with him to get water from a nearby borehole. What Chansa really wants to do is go with Resheal when he herds the goats. But Resheals tells him that he’s too young and needs to wait a little while longer.

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The goats arrived a couple of years ago for Resheal — also coming through World Vision’s Gift Catalogue. He feels so responsible for them that sometimes he’ll skip lunch out in the field because he worries that something might happen to them. When he first got the goats, he put them inside their pen and says, “I spent time gazing at them. ”Like the chickens, the goats multiplied. Now they have more than 30 goats.

The animals aren’t the only benefit World Vision has offered to Esnart’s family. Bee, Resheal, and Chansa all have sponsors in the US. Bee’s and Resheal’s sponsors have written letters, encouraging both boys to pursue their studies — advice they take to heart.

Resheal’s sponsor sent him clothing. Bee’s sponsor donated extra gifts, which allowed Bee to reroof his room and also to buy a wooden bed — the first bed he’s ever owned. Bee says, “If we meet or see each other, mostly I would want to thank him so much from the bottom of my heart because he has done so much to help me.”

Esnart considers the sponsors to be friends of her sons and grandson.

Starting to save
In 2011, World Vision began savings groups in the community.  These groups helped to change the mindset of people in Zambian rural communities.

Owen, the community development worker, explains that it used to be if someone had small amounts of money such as 2 or 5 kwacha (RM0.90 – RM2.20), they would just go spend it, because they couldn’t see the value of saving such a small amount.

World Vision explained that the tiny amount, when saved in a savings group, could result in earnings of up to 20 kwacha (RM8.80). That’s a sizeable sum of money in these rural communities.

These savings then are available to members to borrow. They’re encouraged to take loans because the interest on repaid loans increases everyone’s earnings. Each group sets their loan repayment period to between 6 months and a year. They also determine interest rates, although most groups tend to set it to around 10%.  Owen says he’s seen lots of changes as a result of the savings groups in his zone. Some women have been able to build new homes or shops. They’ve paid school fees for their children, bought livestock, and bought nutritious food for their family.

“The savings groups have proved to be [one of] the best of World Vision’s interventions,” he says. “No group has stopped. They’re opening new ones all the time.”

Esnart embraced the savings groups. She’s even become a trainer, which means she visits savings groups around the country, teaching them about the process.

Esnart dreams big about her own future. She’s started a small business selling fish from Lake Kariba. She plans to borrow money from the savings group to expand her that business by buying a refrigerator in which to store the fish. She now owns property in town now and just needs to build on the land. Then she’ll rent out the homes when she’s finished. She’s always seeking to diversify so she’s not dependent on one thing to support her family.

The savings group has also opened up higher education opportunities for her children. Owen says, “Bee is now at a boarding [high] school. On her own, she could not have managed.”

Zambia recently passed new legislation requiring elected government officials to have completed their education at least through twelfth grade. Owen says proudly that now people in his community can be part of governing their own country because education has become more accessible, thanks in part to World Vision’s work in communities like Sinazongwe.

Neither Resheal nor Chansa seems interested in politics at this point in their lives, but it’s great to know that the option is open should they decide to pursue a future in government.

Resheal is already starting to work on his medical skills. When his elderly grandmother stepped on a thorn, he tenderly pulled it from her gnarled foot. It was good practice for the 9-year-old doctor in waiting.

“I want to be treating people. I want people to live a healthy life and I would want to take people out of their old life,” he says, his megawatt smile lighting up his whole face.

Esnart knows that due to the foundation laid by the Gift Catalogue chickens and the ongoing support of sponsorship and the savings groups, she’ll have the money she needs to support his education.

“He will help the nation as a whole,” she says. “My dream [for Resheal] is that he would have a fruitful future; that he would have a productive future.” She wants him to be self-sufficient, but also willing and able to help others in need.

A loving example
Helping others is so important to Esnart that she’s already instilled it in her children and will do so to her grandchildren. She knows the ramifications of desperate poverty.

She understands the physical and psychological effects it imprints on people.

Most of the people in southern Zambia belong to the Tongan tribe. Tongans measure worth by the number of animals owned. “In the past, when I lacked all these things, nobody could even walk to my home,” says Esnart. “They shunned me because I was poor.”

Now many people in need come to her. Esnart refuses to turn them away. If someone asks for a chicken to feed their family, she gives it to them free of charge.

Her faith enables her to forgive. “I need to show them an example of how they need to live,” Esnart says. “God is using me, not just for my well-being, but also for the well-being of others.”

Her example has taken root. Bee says, “One friend came and said he did not have a blanket. I did not deny him one because I realized problems need to be shared. So, I gave him a blanket. They say the hand that gives is blessed.” Shortly thereafter, World Vision provided Bee with another blanket.

Chansa and Resheal are learning these same lessons in generosity, but thankfully they haven’t learned the hard lessons of want. These boys don’t have to wonder where whether a meal is coming. They won’t feel hunger gnawing at them as they struggle to learn.

Instead, they will be free to grow to their full potential, and that’s an overwhelming desire for any parent.

Through the gifts of chickens, goats, and sponsorship, Esnart’s faith has grown. “It has made me realize that God came like sending his own angel to come before me,” says Esnart. “Those years I spent struggling and praying, he heard me and answered by sending that angel.”

Who would have ever believed an angel taking on the form of a chicken?

To learn more about World Vision’s gift catalogue, please go to https://www.worldvision.com.my/goh-catalogue Or to learn about how sponsoring a child is the start of a miracle for children and communities living in poverty, do click here, https://www.worldvision.com.my/what-is-child-sponsorship

Story courtesy of World Vision US.