The Story of Mwaiseni Community
In early 1999 the Ministry of Education in Zambia’s Community School initiative was in full swing. They were looking for young and willing volunteers to work alongside trained teachers across Zambia in small community schools. Esnart, from Mwaiseni answered the call. Esnart knew of the struggles in her community and the difficulties many children would face without an education. Equipped with a few teaching materials and only a week’s worth of training, Esnart began to teach grades 1 to 7 in the local community hall near the market in town. Word soon began to spread of the amazing work being done in the school. Children were eager to learn and spoke very highly of their teacher. Esnart and the children were visited on a regular basis by community leadership, local radio stations and caring individuals who wanted to hear their stories.
Children currently supported: 124
Number of Care Workers: 27
Coordinator Name: aNNIE
Distance from Kitwe Local Office: 8 km
Basic Services Started: 2013
But with all of this positive attention came negative speculation as well. Members of the community, who were assigned to monitor community development, tried to take over the school. Esnart fought hard for her students but eventually lost the battle. Under new leadership, the school’s attendance was low, children received poor exam marks and after five years, the school was closed. Esnart remembers many occasions in those five years when community members came to her, begging her to reopen a school. But Esnart was so discouraged by what had happened that she did not want to teach again.
In 2007 Blessings Sambo from the local Hands at Work office in Kitwe identified Mwaiseni as one of the poorest areas with extreme vulnerability. They began to walk regularly in the community, talking to church leaders and asking them questions. They often heard of Esnart and the work she had done in the local community school and they knew they had to meet this lady. Blessings built a relationship with Esnart, meeting with her on a weekly basis and together doing home visits in the community. As they walked together, he shared with her Hands at Work’s vision to see the local churches unite as Christ’s body to care for the most vulnerable children. Esnart heard the vision and was stirred into action. She mobilised compassionate and loving men and women from Mwaiseni to walk alongside her to visit the children.
In order to address the most essential needs of an orphaned or vulnerable child in Mwaiseni, Esnart was asked by her fellow Care Workers to open up a school again. She not only agreed to do this, but also opened up her own home as a classroom for the children. She began to educate and feed 14 of the most vulnerable children in the community. Today, the school has grown to 86 children aged from 3 to 15 years.
In July of 2013, Mapalo Community Based Organisation was born. In partnership with Hands at Work, they began to provide the 3 Essential Services of food, health care and education to 50 of the most vulnerable children. In 2014, this number increased to 100 children and now provides for 150 children.
Although there is a small clinic, it does not have enough medicine to meet the needs of the community. People are referred to the general hospital or given prescriptions for medication, both of which are unaffordable. The CBO supports chilren like Mulubwa* and others by providing clinic visits, which relieves some of the health issues. Sufficient water is also a problem in Mwaiseni, as there are only a few access points to serve the whole community. Renovations have been completed to transform the Care Point into a Life Centre which includes a safe environment for the children to play and eat in, a shelter to sit under and eat when it is raining, and a place for Care Workers to meet.
At only 20 years old, Mary cares for her six-year-old niece, Mulubwa, since the death of Mulubwa’s mother. Mary finished grade 12 last year, and is unable to meet Mulubwa’s needs. Being a young household, Mulubwa is at risk of abuse and illiteracy. Mulubwa’s Care Worker, Gertrude, has been helping Mulubwa since her mother was sick, providing her with food and visits to the clinic. With love and support from Gertrude, Mulubwa is learning how to interact with other children
The Hands at Work office in Kitwe currently supports seven Community Based Organisations, which exist to care for the most vulnerable in their communities. The office provides training, networking, and encouragement to those Community Based Organisations like Mapalo. It also gives administrative support, including helping with funding proposals, monitoring and evaluation, bookkeeping and reporting to donors.