Last July, we sent a team of volunteers to Zambia to build homes for our Orphans & Vulnerable Children project.
This is a project that provides houses for children who are parentless or otherwise vulnerable due to sickness, often being taken care of by an extended family member or another carer.
Recently our colleagues in Zambia updated us on the two families who our volunteers worked with to build their new homes.
Here’s what they had to say about their lives before and after entering their new homes.
One big family
Anastasia Zulu, a resident of Kamanga was born in 1982. Her husband evicted her from their matrimonial home and married another woman in 2004. She has two children: Irene Zimba who has a recently given birth to Angel, and Maureen who has a one-year old son named Alick..
But Anastasia also takes care of the orphaned children that her late sister left behind — Agrippa, Elisha, and Beatrice. In addition, two of her brothers currently live with her, Justin Mwanza, who suffers from a mental disability, and Mazala Zulu, who is currently unemployed.
The family lives on a plot of land that Anastasia’s parents left after their death.
Making ends meet
“I wash people’s clothes for about K30 ($3) three times weekly and braid hair for K20 ($2) per client within the community,” reveals Anastasia. The money is mainly used to purchase food, water and fuel.
There is no money left each month for savings. In times of crisis, the family seeks help from relatives and neighbours. One of the major emergencies the family faces in a year is sickness – this adds a huge stress to the family’s income and wellbeing.
The family manages one to two meals every day, consisting mainly of nsima (thick porridge) and vegetables. The food is cooked on a brazier using charcoal.
An average day in this community has not much else to offer to this family due to the very limited economic activity.
Moving into their new home
In July 2016, a team of international volunteers in Zambia constructed a three roomed house and a ventilated pit latrine for the family under the Orphaned and Vulnerable Children housing project.
Until that time, the family used to live in a two roomed mud house with poor roofing materials and walls. Space was a challenge to carter for the entire family and ventilation was poor due to the structure lacking windows.
“I never imagined living in a safe house, thank you to the entire volunteer team for making it a reality for me,” Anastasia says excitedly. She adds that the structure has lockable doors and window offering maximum security both in the day and night.
“In the day, we can all leave the house without worrying of someone breaking in. At night, we sleep soundly.” (Anastasia)
“I am so excited about the new house. It has enough space and well ventilated. It also calms me to know that my dependents particularly the orphans will have roof over their head even when I am gone,” emphasises Anastasia.
She adds that because of the cement flooring, incidences of coughs have drastically reduced. “May God bless the team and continue with the good works of building houses for the vulnerable families,” blesses Anastasia.
The family will never worry about a leaking roof in rain season as their new structure has a good quality roof. In addition, they have their own toilet to use which reduces the risk of diseases like cholera spreading in the family and in the community.
Living with her children and grandchildren
Anna Nitima a resident of Kamanga Community was born in 1972. Her husband died in 2015 in a road accident. She has three children – Thomas, Bettina and Martha.
Martha was married, but divorced her husband a few years ago. She has two children, Vincent and Rody Zulu. In total, the household has six individuals. Anna and her daughter, Martha are on anti-retroviral therapy to keep their HIV infection in check.
Washing clothes to pay the bills
“I have not been well for a while hence I am economically inactive. To make ends meet, my daughter Martha washes community members’ clothes over the weekend to generate K60 monthly,” reveals Anna.
The money mainly goes into providing food. The family does not make any savings at the moment as they are financially struggling. In times of crisis, community members come to their aid. “Due to my HIV status, I have been unwell and community members offer spiritual, moral and economic support,” mentions Anna.
The family frequently lacks adequate food throughout the year. Just like Anastasia’s family, meals consist mostly of Nsima (thick porridge) and green vegetables. The meals are prepared on firewood or brazier using charcoal, which sometimes lead to respiratory diseases and persistent cough.
Their new home
“My gratitude goes to [team leader] Sandy Muir and the team that has made the world a better place for my family as we have decent shelter,” says Anna. In July 2016, our volunteers in Zambia built a 4-room house and ventilated improved pit latrine toilet with Anna’s help and that of the community.
Previously, the family used to stay in four roomed dilapidated mud house Anna’s parents built years ago. It had no windows and had limited space with poor roofing and flooring materials.
Anna added that the family no longer worries about the whole house leaking when it rains and that incidences of coughs have drastically reduced as the floor is dust free. In addition, the family’s safety is secured as the house has lockable doors and windows.
“We said goodbye to dusty floors the moment we moved into the house” (Anna)
The house offers a much better studying environment for Bettina who is attending Kapiriyamba primary school. Not having to worry about the leaky roof makes it much easier for her not to lose her textbooks and homework.
Because Anna couldn’t pay for her tuition fees in time earlier, Bettina couldn’t attend school which in turn caused her overall performance at tests to plummet. Now the family can start saving again to send Bettina back to school.