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zambia hope international

Zambia Hope International Helps Improve Quality of Life

By Philip Chirwa, Times of Zambia - June 18, 2007

With the collapse of the traditional extended family system, the important role that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) play in supplementing Government efforts in helping the underprivileged in society, especially widows and orphans, affected by HIV/AIDS, is a notorious fact. And one such NGO is the Zambia Hope International (ZHI), a non-partisan, non-profit making non-governmental organisation (NGO) whose main objective is to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life in Zambia through the promotion of economic empowerment among the vulnerable groups in society.

ZHI, originally called Afrihope International, came into being in February, 2000. However, come July, 2003, it was re-named Zambia Hope International and was registered with the registrar of societies on July 24 the same year. Since its inception, ZHI has fostered the spirit of helping the underprivileged by undertaking HIV/AIDS sensitisation programmes in schools, sponsoring outreach projects in peri-urban areas and networking with other NGOs in the area of HIV/AIDS prevention and character education.

ZHI currently serves three communities. These are Namayani in Mumbwa’s Mwembeshi area, Misisi township in Lusaka and Chieftainess Mungule’s area of Chibombo district. However, once in a while, they have extended assistance outside their geographical coverage.

In addition, ZHI has been making material donations to other organisations that it has been networking with. These include Mulundu Comm unity School in Mkushi, Namayani Community Project, Mianda Community School in Livingstone, Chitawaka Community School in Mfuwe, Community HIV/AIDS Project Concern, and Women’s Federation for World Peace, Inter-religious and International Federation for World Peace and Gwembe Valley Community School Project. Other recipients of ZHI donations are the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) and the ministry of Health.

Other organisations that have benefited from ZHI’s charity work are the Ideal Family Clinic, Zambia Shall Be Saved Foundation and the Islamic Council of Zambia.

ZHI’s donations are in form of second-hand clothes or “salaula”, solar packs, pharmaceutical products, computers, sporting equipment, kitchen utensils, footwear, bedsheets, uniforms, musical and medical equipment. But ZHI does not just go about donating things. In fact, its major area of operation is empowering the communities it is dealing with by providing them with survival skills to make them self-reliant. To this end, it has acquired land for agricultural production as well as running courses in tailoring and knitting for women.

As of now, ZHI’s most prominent project is the 19-hectare Mutakwa Village Project located in Chieftainess Mungule’s area some 24km north of Lusaka. The project, consisting of 300 families, is aimed at empowering the local community to achieve self-sustainability. According to ZHI national president, Beatrice Chilufya Darko, the farming seasons 2004/2005 and 2005/20006 ended successfully with the project yielding sufficient food for the community. A chicken run has been built to accommodate 3,000 chicks and this is expected to start operating soon. “In addition to this, we have drilled a borehole with a 10,000 litre water tank. The irrigation exercise of the field is now completed. This is a major breakthrough for us as it will enable us to plant various crops throughout the year,” Ms Darko said.

To date, they have planted tomatoes, potatoes, maize, groundnuts, beans and paprika and a variety of vegetables.
Most of the land has been cleared and stamped for cultivation. During the 2003/2004 farming season, they planted maize and soya beans covering four hectares. They have employed twelve permanent workers who are assisted by casual labour hired to perform specific tasks. This is aimed at empowering the local community and hence reducing the poverty level among them.

The organisation is also building a training centre to offer vocational skills such as tailoring and knitting. This is intended to empower the local women. The Mutakwa project is the brainchild of a British sponsor, Jayesh Taylor, who has been consistently supporting Hope International since its inception. To date, Mr Taylor has donated over US$ 110,000 in cash and materials. He has shipped three 40-feet and another three 20-feet containers of supplies to the project, including a new 440 Massey Ferguson tractor valued at $17,500 as well as secondhand computers, kitchen utensils, bicycles, toys, shoes, books, chairs, desks, uniforms and sporting equipment.

Meanwhile, in September 2003, ZHI embarked on an orphan sponsorship programme. They have so far adopted 10 families comprising 50 people. These are mainly widows taking care of their own children and those of deceased relatives. The families are supported by being provided with a 25kg bag of mealie meal on a monthly basis. On some occasions, depending on the availability of funds, the organisation also gives out cooking oil, vegetable and relish as well as supporting the orphans by paying their school fees and supplying them uniforms.