Light of Hope Health Care
Our man on the ground in Linda is the very experienced John Shawa who runs Light of Hope Health Care and it was great to meet him at last. It was shocking to discover that one in 9 children in Zambia will die before their fifth birthday – largely from diarrhoea or malnutrition – so it was good to find out that the Light of Hope feeding programme is going well, providing protein supplements and mealie meal for around 140 local children.
Light of Hope Health Care also runs two football teams with support from VisonZambia. Isaac, the administrator, arranged for us to meet some of the boys who have received shirts and boots donated by Fulham Football Club. They were delighted to show off their keepy uppy skills for the camera and told me they hope to be able to visit Fulham and play at the club one day.
Women’s income-generating groups
We met six of the women’s groups based in Linda and all seem to be functioning well at the moment. One of the highlights of my week was to meet so many inspirational women and find out about their small business ventures. While we were there, we appointed a new trainer called Mainess who will support the groups and explain the process of savings, bank accounts and loans.
This environmentally aware group recently took part in a Community Development day where 100 different women’s groups gathered to explain their small business ventures to a group of judges. To their delight, Fiwamina Abantu won first prize for their ‘green’ briquettes made from agricultural waste, and for their feminine hygiene pads, which they are now selling to women’s prisons to prevent the women from having to use newspaper. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for them as they go forward to the next round!
This successful group breeds chickens to sell to the local community. They now have 65 chickens and are looking to expand further. Their funding request is for a chicken run so that they don’t have to keep the chicks inside their houses. They are now considering expanding into rabbits and ducks.
Light of Hope Women’s Group
This group is making lovely rugs and told us that they would be grateful for any more wool we can collect and bring out for them. Like all the women’s groups they also sell the bras we collect on a regular basis from supporters in the USA and UK.
This group meets around three times a week. They have a couple of sewing machines and would welcome more as they are making clothes from local chitange material and customizing shorts by adding funky edging and patches, which apparently are going down very well with the young boys.
They too are growing coriander and mate on a small patch of ground they have been given.
Mother of Mercy Hospice
Sister Jeremiah, the Polish nun who runs the Mother of Mercy Hospice, was delighted to hear about VisionZambia’s continued financial support for her staff, which means she is on course to re-open the inpatient wards in January 2016.
Sue and I also looked around the Guardian Angels Community School (where we were greeted with a song from the children) as well as the outpatients’ clinic that supports over 2,600 people in the community with ARV treatment for HIV/AIDS.
At the end of the week many of the people we’d met gathered at the Friends Helping Friends Community Hall, built by VisonZambia, for a farewell meeting. It was very moving to hear their tributes to VisionZambia supporters and to find out what an important part of their lives we are. I feel very privileged to have met so many kind and welcoming people on my first visit to Linda. To them all I can say is “Zikomo” – which was my favourite word all week as whenever I said it everybody laughed!