For the last six years, Florence has managed our work in Zambia. We already have three SOS Children’s Villages in the country, in Lusaka, Kitwe and Livingstone, which provide a home to over 500 orphaned and abandoned children. We also support thousands of families in these three communities through our Family Strengthening Programmes, medical centres and schools.
When SOS Children were looking to set up projects in a new location in Zambia, Florence says that Chipata, a town in the Eastern Province, was the natural choice. With one of the fastest growing populations in the country, the town has a HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 22%. As a result, thousands of children are left without anyone to care for them. “The traditional extended family system has broken down under the weight of too many children whose parents have died,” Florence explains.
SOS Children are building a new Children’s Village in Chipata, which we are aiming to complete by early summer next year. It will provide 13 new homes and SOS families for 130 children.
Adjacent to the plot for the SOS Children’s Village is a community school, Dam View Primary. The school currently has no electricity, six classrooms (years 1-6) for nearly 260 children, and barely any books. SOS Children decided to make improvements to the school. With six new classrooms, the school will provide an education for more children, and offer a quality learning environment for pupils. Once complete, the average class size will be 35, enabling children to get the individual attention they need. Flushing toilets and electricity will also be installed in January 2012. Florence is certain that creating a comfortable environment will have a positive effect on children’s prospects for the future: “Children will go into a school that is quality and they will have quality education there.”
SOS Children are also supporting the community in Chipata. A Family Strengthening Programme is already in operation, supporting hundreds of families (the majority of them child-headed), to stay together. As part of this programme, from next month, a Mobile Medical Unit will provide treatments for 600 families within a 25 mile radius in and around the town. Many families, particularly pregnant women, small children, and those with HIV/AIDS, are unable to walk the distance to their nearest medical centre, 12 miles away. As Florence describes, the medical bus will be “a clinic at their doorstep”. The bus will distribute medicines for chronic infections (such as HIV), as well as treatment for acute infections (such as malaria and pneumonia). “We believe…that we will contribute positively to make people live longer and therefore reduce orphans,” she says. We are also building a Medical Centre which will provide treatments and care for families in central Chipata.
More and more people are helping Florence to bring real change in Zambia by joining our Be Part of Chipata campaign. See how you can get involved.