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Chipata: An inspiring place

Chipata: An inspiring place

Our Children's Village in Chipata, Zambia holds a special place in the hearts of many of our supporters. Suzgo grew up near Chipata and knows just how poor the area is. He is thrilled that by fundraising for the Village, he is able to help the children there achieve their dreams, just as he has been able to. Mary, a dedicated volunteer, sponsors a child from the Village and recently made the trip to see her sponsored son. Read both their stories here.

Suzgo's story: Returning home

If the circumstances of one’s birth and early childhood are anything to go by in determining a person’s destiny, then I should not be who I am or where I am today.” So says Suzgo Ndhlovu, who grew up in a remote district of Eastern Zambia, Lundazi, near Chipata.

As a young boy, Suzgo recalls how he would spend cold nights on reed mats. When he saw visitors from the city, Suzgo says he became aware about the possibility of a better life and felt education must be the way to find it. Despite his difficult home circumstances, his teachers were very encouraging. Suzgo particularly remembers his geography teacher, who told him “Happy are those who sit on pins for surely they will rise up.”

SOS Children supporter Suzgo in Chipata
Suzgo at the nursery in Chipata

However, his father (who was divorced from his mother) didn’t see the point in paying for Suzgo to go on to higher secondary school. Thankfully, Suzgo’s mother heard of his predicament and made arrangements for him to travel to the north of the country where an uncle lived, so he could attend secondary school. Suzgo says “for the first time I felt loved and cared for. My uncle provided me with everything a child could hope for.” Suzgo was eventually admitted to Zambia’s top university, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science and Education.

Suzgo taught in many African countries and is proud that his former pupils have gone on to become doctors, teachers and engineers among other professions. Now retraining at the University of Edinburgh to teach in the UK and married with a family of his own, Suzgo raises funds for the SOS Children’s Village in Chipata by running in the Edinburgh Marathon Festivals. The photo shows him surrounded by the nursery children on a recent trip to Chipata. Suzgo is thrilled that in his very poor home area, he is helping some of the poorest Zambian children find a loving family and the encouragement they need to achieve their dreams, just as he did.

Mary's story: “Incredibly happy children”

If SOS Children’s Villages were a military organisation, Mary Scott would be awarded our Meritorious Service Medal. Mary is a weekly volunteer in Cambridge helping with administration and fundraising events. But understanding how the UK office operates wasn’t enough for Mary. She was keen to see our work on the ground and meet her sponsored child – even if that meant travelling all the way to eastern Zambia!

Alex Scott, SOS supporter with children at Chipata
Alex Scott playing with the children from the Village
Our team at Chipata don’t receive many visitors, which isn’t a surprise given the region’s remoteness. So staff were delighted to greet Mary, her 20-year-old daughter, Louisa, and 17-year-old son, Alex. Mary was thrilled to cuddle her sponsored child, Matthew* and meet his SOS mother, Grace.

Alex says “from the moment we arrived at the Village, it was clear to see the love and devotion that the SOS mothers give to every single child”. As a widowed mother of two children, Mary says she felt humbled to see how hard the SOS mothers work. Mary describes how they rise at 5am to light the braziers in case of power cuts and to do the washing. Though each mother cares for ten children, Mary said the homes were so neat and well-kept, with the children proudly folding their clothes in the bedrooms.

Mary, Alex and Louisa were glad to spend time playing with the children. Alex (pictured outside with the children) says how “fun” and “inquisitive” they all are. “They especially loved taking pictures of each other with our camera.” Mary says her family’s abiding memories will be of the “incredibly happy children” and seeing “the passion of the SOS mothers” in caring for them.

We have been working in Zambia since 1999, provding a loving home for orphan and vulnerable children. Our Children's Village opened in Chipata in 2012. We now also provide much-needed medical services and a dedicated family-strengthening programme. Find out more about our work in Chipata.