I’m headed to Zambia soon and my friend Anne asked if I could bring some stuff out for her. You know, tablets for making mozzarella, chocolate chips, magazines – the things you can’t get easily in Lusaka. I’ve mentioned Anne before. She’s my ridiculously talented friend who moved with her husband (my old office neighbor) and family to Lusaka.
Anne and I have been going back and forth about what I can bring her for a few weeks. Recently I found out she’s trying to help out an AMAZING local non-profit, the Chikumbuso Women and Orphans Project, by getting bunk beds built for girls and supplying them with a few bedroom necessities like sheets and reading lights. She’s also collecting school supplies for all the kids.
Here’s what Chikumbuso is and what it’s all about…
The Chikumbuso Women and Orphans Project began in 2005 as a response to one widow’s struggle to feed, educate and care for her children. It soon became obvious that this widow was one of many women affected by the AIDS crisis, and something had to be done on a much larger scale.
First and foremost, Chikumbuso is a support group of widows who have come together to provide each other with emotional and material support. Each woman who joins Chikumbuso is responsible for the other widows, through a mission statement that asks each person to: Remember those who have died, Remember where we have come from, and Remember to do for others. This mission is a crucial component of all the work that Chikumbuso accomplishes in Ng’ombe. In addition to the support group, weekly meetings and trainings, the women have created a micro enterprise crocheting plastic grocery bags into purses, wine carriers and other fashion accessories. This business gives them a stable income and a way to provide for their families with dignity. The bags they make are sold locally at a variety of distribution points including the Chikumbuso store in the compound and sold internationally in stores and sales throughout the US and Europe. The proceeds from the sale of the bags internationally are used to finance the other program activities of the Chikumbuso Project.
These activities include a community school specifically targeting orphans from the Ng’ombe area. The School provides kindergarten through 5th grade education, a free school lunch, a theatre group, Boy and Girl scouts, a drumming troop, two soccer teams and a gospel choir. Most importantly, it provides a safe, positive, clean and nurturing environment for its 275 students. Lacking a strong family structure and a safe place to be, orphans are often extremely vulnerable to predators and to poor choices. Chikumbuso’s compound in Ng’ombe is a unique place of love and support for children who would otherwise be on the streets.
A over the last month, I’ve actually had quite a few people ask me about good places to give. I love the idea of organizations that support micro-finance/enterprises. It’s a great way to give and an AMAZING way to empower others. I think empowering people to make their lives better and help others is the best way to give. I could go on and on about this (I wrote my graduate thesis on this), but I won’t.
So, I’m sure you all know where this is going, here’s the ask – if you visit the Chikumbuso website, there is a place you can donate and sponsor a child. It you have the funds and were meaning to give some of it away, it would be great if you considered Chikumbuso. If you want to donate fitted twin sheets (nothing fancy), school supplies or solar light bulbs, contact us and I’d be happy to carry everything over in my checked bags. Clothes? Who needs clean clothes? Also, Christmas is coming up, what about giving out Chikumbuso bags for Christmas? I’m going to buy a couple when I get there.
Let me know if you have questions. I promise to get them answered in a timely manner! Happy Friday!!