History of the Kantolomba Project
Three hundred children - impoverished, many orphaned, hungry, no school, no health care, no meaningful employment prospects, and little or no hope. It was a case of survival of the fittest. Pushing, shoving, kicking, whatever it would take to get to the front of the line, to get that meal. And then there were the little ones – three and four years olds sobbing as they stood holding empty bowls only to be told that the food had run out.
This was the site witnessed by the four staff and 16 students on the 2008 Zambia Impact trip. How in a world of plenty, can this be happening?
As we began to research the community of Kantolomba we realised that there were not enough schools for the great volume of children, no police station, no free clean water, and no health clinic. You have probably heard the adage, “feed a man and he will eat for a day, teach him to fish and he will eat for life”. It was the knowledge that education has the power to change lives which motivated Swan Christian College to build a school for the people of Kantolomba. A school would that mean that many of these children would find hope to discover their God given potential and find meaningful employment to help break the chains of poverty.
The commencement of the school was over six years ago and now our first students are in their fifth year of school, and over 200 students who have been enrolled receive a solid education and a nutritional meal each school day.
Teams of staff and students continue to travel to Zambia and are constantly amazed at the developments which have resulted from the generosity shown by Australian donors. The school which the locals have called 'Light up Ahead' has grown to seven classrooms, a library and a computer lab. 45 refurbished laptops from Australia mean that many children and adults in Kantolomba can now become computer literate and therefore more employable. Our school is only the second school in the region to offer IT through computers.
The locals are also supporting this project through the provision of a vegetable garden and poultry farm. We have also had a number of donations from local businesses.
Women's Empowerment Program
It has become evident that to provide a holistic approach to tackling poverty, both the issues of the home environment and healthcare needs should be addressed. With most of the parents in the community being unemployed it meant that the children lack basic necessities at home. Also, when a family member experienced sickness they would have the travel to the next town to receive any help. To combat these issues we have now established a Women’s Empowerment Program and a Health Clinic at the school to address these vital needs.
One of the women who recently graduated from the program stated - "Before now, we were really struggling to survive, because we did not have anything we could do to sustain our families. We were not able to run any stable income generating activity due to lack of knowledge, skills and resources. These trainings you have brought to our village have really brought us light in our lives as mothers and have built our self-confidence, because we have been taught about how to identify business opportunities, start, grow and remain viable in business.”
The history of the Kantolomba projects continue to unfold and make a difference in many lives. Our prayer is that the Lord would continue to move upon the hearts of people, both within the local community and here in Perth, to bring blessing and empowerment to our brothers and sisters in Zambia.
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