As the children were waiting for their teacher to mark their tests, Dominic sat outside with them to have a friendly chat. The teacher informed Dominic that many of the orphaned and vulnerable kids in the Esperance Home Based Care (EHBC) school are improving rapidly in their studies. They love to participate and to be acknowledged by their teachers. Thirty of the children have written a test, which, if passed, will allow them to go to a public school with the help of EHBC . The children also receive Biblical teaching. It is important for them to know the nature and spirit of God that can overcome the problems they have gone through and may face in the future.
Another school is on the brink of opening here. With a strong belief in the Church fulfilling their Biblical mandate in caring for orphans and widows, EHBC has posed that challenge locally. After a meeting with the three pastors and elders of a church, one said that if they do not know how to care for the orphans and widows in their area then they do not know how to worship God. The church/school, based in a steel-framed structure scarcely covered in tarp, will have its humble beginning in September. Until then, there needs to be the provision of siding for the church, school furniture, two teachers and a cook.
The support for orphans is also expanding to the area of Kikula. With this addition the total number of orphans and vulnerable children supported in Likasi will increase to 500. EHBC has recently begun a school program for orphaned youth between 14 and 22 years old. Once the caregiver of a house dies, the family often has no means to carry the burdens of school fees, uniforms, and books for their children. If the children do find a way to go to school, most of them drop out in their teenage years, meeting heavier fees and more pressure to provide for their large families. This program has been given the vision to care for such youth. They meet every Saturday as a large family, having fun, exploring the scriptures and their relevance to our lives, forming friendships and an understanding that we are not alone in life’s struggles. The program is moving towards starting life skills training for those who do not plan on going to school, as well as those who need to secure an income to do so.
Something has come up in meetings with the youth that is pointing towards the opening of a new service. Many widows, uneducated and unemployed, remain in this state long after the death of their husbands. Many seem uninterested to find jobs once a church or other service decides to provide some assistance. The vision is to bring widows facing this challenge together in order to provide encouragement and life skills training, enabling them to provide for their families regardless of the loss of their spouse. There is immense value in helping to reconstruct broken families, and we are excited to step out in the direction of equipping widows for such a task.
Newlyweds Margaret and Dominic Phiri are the project coordinators of Esperance Home-Based Care in Likasi, DRC.