There are more than a million orphaned children in Zambia - 1 in 10 people! How could a wealthy country cope with this size of problem? If they survive, what kind of adults will they become? They need food, shelter, education and training. But also someone to love them, someone who cares. With our partners, we are trying to help some of these very needy children and young people at Kaliyangile Vocational Training Centre in the small town of Chisamba.
African families have always been good at absorbing orphaned children. But with huge numbers of adults dying of HIV, the strains on those remaining have become intolerable. The risk is that these children fall to the bottom of the pile - in danger of neglect, malnutrition, abuse, dying very young or moving to live rough on the streets. They need to be helped as early as possible, valued and cared for, given support, schooling and training to break the downward spiral of poverty
Needy children are identified in the local rural community. Teenagers are encouraged to come for training in agriculture including beekeeping. They can also learn hand and machine tailoring and machine knitting. The centre offers some basic catch-up literacy and numeracy, along with health education, and we are now embarking on computer training in response to local demand.
The aim is to lift the self-esteem of these young people by giving them training which offers hope, allows them to hold their head high and provide for themselves and their families into the future. This has the potential to break the cycle of poverty.