In 2002 the AIDS, pandemic was growing with no end in sight. We feared for the worst for our nation. Seated in the kitchen of Mrs. Vicki Huckaby in Thomaston Georgia USA, my husband and I took turns in sharing how the death of a parent can spell a premature end to childhood. We shared with her of how hundreds of thousands of children had lost one or both parents-many from AIDS-and many more were struggling with serious illnesses. Deprived of parental love and protection in their formative years, many were also losing financial support. We shared on the physical, emotional, educational and economic challenges orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) faced. These included hunger, school dropout, early marriages and exploitation.
Cash Transfer Program Roll Out
Concerned for the welfare of Zambia’s most vulnerable citizens, Mrs. Huckaby motivated church members from her church (First Baptist Church) and other friends in her home town to support vulnerable families in Zambia with $25 per month at the time, that will go to help orphans and vulnerable children to access education and provide food for the family. Within three months we had 27 families in Georgia supporting 27 OVC and their guardians through monthly cash transfer.
In 2009, Ridgepoint Church heard about the program and mobilized their members to participate. Currently Ridgepoint has the largest number of children on the program (102). By the end of 2016 the program was operational in 22 churches in Ndola providing 150 extreme vulnerable households caring for the OVCs with a monthly K210 (US$30) transfer. This money all goes toward the child’s welfare, none of it is used for administration or otherwise. The program continues to show promise: it helps families purchase basic necessities such as school supplies, food & groceries, clothing and beneficiaries are less likely to sell their few assets. Supervision by church leaders and Community Welfare Association Committees ensures that resources are used to meet educational, food, and clothing needs of OVCs. The beneficiaries have formed committees to ensure that the program fulfils its objectives.
The following were the highlights for year:
Held a meeting to strengthen relationships with parents/guardians and their children who are on Child Sponsorship Program (CSP) especially those involved in Income Generating Activities (IGA), and heard testimonies of the impact the program was making in the children and family.
Participated in a workshop on Death & Dying in Lusaka. According to Zambian tradition, it is believed that one cannot part with their departed spouse as they are still bound to the spirit of the departed until they are cleansed. Every Zambian ethnic group has their traditional way of dealing with death to exorcize the ghost of the deceased spouse in order to free the surviving spouse. Due to this, it was important to bring the church together and see ways to review how we mourn and do funerals. One of the way forwards on this, is to train counsellors on the importance of children being aware of some of the traditions with regard to death affecting them.
Bertha Katoka – In October Bertha Katoka passed on. She was 18 and was supposed to graduate from high school 2016, but only attended school in the first term due to illness .
She was a double orphan, her mother passed a month or so before she did.
Added 20 children to the Child Sponsorship Program this year 2016. For this we are sincerely grateful to God.
Invitation to South Africa – Pastor Jim & Cathy Liske invited Pastor Temfwe and I to join them in South Africa and sample some of the programs their church in Michigan is involved in Bloemfontein share our input in that.
Short Term Teams – We were blessed this summer by visits from Ridgepoint Church, Winning At Home, St. Nicholas Church, Connerstone University and Holy Trinity team from Cambridge University.
5 children were integrated into families. Three adopted and two in foster care.
One child was adopted from the transit home we are partnering with.
At the end of 2016 about 150 households and 400 children were benefitting from the cash transfer. The program’s benefits are substantial and wide ranging. The government has commended this initiative. Though they have their own cash transfer initiative, they have confessed that they have a lot to learn from us. The transfer improved overall consumption, resulting in:
– 30 families coming out of extreme poverty
– 100 households had a more diverse dietary which included milk, fish and meat and improved health. There has been dramatic reduction in sicknesses. Measures of malnutrition, such as height and weight for age slightly improved.
– We have not recorded any pregnancies from the girl children on the program in the last two years.
– Four families have improved their shelter
– 100 households have formed groups that are engaged in savings and loan programs.
– 120 families are involved in subsistence farming.
– 150 children are participating in AWANA and another 10 teenagers are involved in leadership development under a program called Junior Parliament
– 250 extreme vulnerable children provided with blankets and shoes
– 400 children attending school through this initiative