I want to share with you what touched my heart the most during my first trip to Zambia, but first a pre story.
We visited a handicapped school and I saw that children do not have enough benches and desks, some were very poorly dressed (after school when not in uniform) and they only had meal time once a day. I was so shocked. When you see these angels with disabilities and not having the basics, it just feels unreal. These pupils were so happy and with an open heart that I cannot describe. Many children live in the school, many disowned because of their disabilities.
Another place that will be engraved in my memory forever is the boys boarding school. At first it looked ok, or as ok as one would expect. Just before we were ready to leave we asked to see their dormitories. Here is when I almost lost it. Some do not have mattresses, or have very old ones. There are no closets. They sleep on bunk beds with old or missing mattresses. Others sleep on on metal trunks.The bathroom hasn’t worked since plumbing gave out. The smell… well I will let you imagine. But you know what? Those kids are so happy and don’t ask for anything. They laugh, and always wear a white shirt,classic black pants, and a tie. They keep their uniforms very clean even though they are nearly worn out.
At some point I asked if we had time to visit an orphanage. I thought I was prepared because of what I had already seen, but I just freaking lost it at that place. The most precious angles have a “house” of 6 bedrooms where 60 kids live. Yep 60 — ages from 10 months and up. The living room has no roof and they cook on charcoal. They eat one (yes, please, think hard only one) meal a day and it’s inshima, which is a corn powder of little nutrition. Their meal is at 5pm once a day. Some children die of hunger. They have no government support – I went to the government office and confirmed this. It’s run by a wonderful family, who just could not turn the kids away. Multiple local journalist reports were written about these people. They live off donations but don’t have a solid sponsor foundation that provides the support all the time.
orphanage. Only 4 adults are taking care of 60 kids. The plates in the kitchen were clean. The point is I saw that the founders take care of children and love them. They are just dirt poor.
Do they have HIV?, you ask. I wondered the same. I talked to government officials, journalist, the founders of the orphanage and they told me that HIV infected children is more the exception that the rule. Why they are in an orphanage? Its common for mothers to die in childbirth. Relatives cannot or will not take them in for many reasons but HIV is not on top of the list.
1) The employee of 10 years of ZSF will buy food for 2 weeks and drop it off to the orphanage every two weeks and check on the well-being of the children. He will also take pictures for us.
2) He will provide receipts of purchased food.
3) I trust this employee in Zambia.
4) We will check on the kids when we return to Zambia.
Once we improve the food problem, we hope to build an orphanage / school building for them.
We cannot let them stay there. We will either need to build or buy an existing house and modify it to work as a school in the day and a place to sleep at night. It will most likely be a new one as we need at least 8 rooms, one side for girls and the other for boys. The land most likely will be given to us by the chief of one of the tribes. We will have to figure out the legalities of it all. We will apply for grants as well. To give you an idea, the building will cost about $50,000. Not super expensive, I think. We need people who are willing to work on this: raise money, work out details, dive into thepaperwork, etc.
These are real children who are starving right now. And we can stop it now. And yes I know we can’t help them all, but we can do what we can. We can help these 60.
Contact me if you are willing to work with us in any capacity. If you have ideas, know someone, who can help, please, let me know. I don’t know what I am
doing but I have to try to help.