We have been missionaries to rural Zambia since 2002. In mid-2006, we undertook the renovation of a 30-room hotel that was incomplete and abandoned to convert the property into an orphanage, plus staff quarters.
In 2007 we established Global Contributions as our public charity (501c3) to help our work expand.
Orphans in Zambia
Zambia, in the heart of sub-Saharan Africa, has a population of 10 million. Official statistics putting the HIV/AIDS infection rate at 25%, though it is more unofficially estimated at 45%. The number of orphans in the country is somewhere between 800,000 and 1,000,000. It is difficult to get accurate numbers in a country that has a large rural population.
Orphans are typically cared for by relatives who absorb nieces, nephews, cousins and grandchildren into their already large households. Many of the surviving relatives are elderly grandparents or aunts and uncles. In just a few years as these guardians pass on even greater numbers of children will be left without support.
The scenario puts a huge strain on families in a country with only 4% of its citizens in gainful employment. Because of the strain felt by these extended families, many orphaned children do not have the opportunity to go to school, much less receive the type of education that would allow them to become productive members of society.
Misconceptions, and existing Health Conditions
The average life expectancy for a Zambian is 31 years, the lowest in the world. Why is this? While we can put much of the blame on HIV/AIDS, the infection rate of many other diseases must also be factored in, for example:
Malaria.................3.5 million per year
Tuberculosis........100,000 have active TB yearly
Hepatitis B............14 % of the total population
Many of these diseases can be prevented through awareness programs. Unfortunately, since Zambia has many indigenous beliefs and traditions, educating or changing the mentality of how things are done is no small task.
Amy holds health seminars with women from the community. Topics include:
* Basic education on different types of illness
* Healthy natural remedies and preventions
* Cleanliness and hygiene
Because of traditions and culture, we have to address what are common misconceptions. For instance, one of the teachings that are introduced here is that vegetables give you worms so you shouldn't eat them much. Our maid was even given this message at the local hospital! So we have to explain over and over how different diseases are introduced and how to prevent them.
We explain that health is determined by proper diet. We teach the different food groups and how you need vegetables, fruit, protein and starch each day. This is a bit difficult in a poor country as there is not money to spare for eating right. So we encourage them to grow a small vegetable garden near the house to help in this. Also teaching them how to use the money they do have in the smartest way in order to get the right types of food. For example, for the money that you spend on a soda you can buy two or three eggs.
Many people have the idea that it is too expensive to live a healthy life. They don't want to take vitamins because their appetite may increase. They think that in order to be healthy requires a lot of money. We teach them to use inexpensive items like salt, soap and water to prevent or treat most common illness.
Education is obviously a big factor in child development. Since Zambia is a developing country, these three educational essentials -- schools, teachers and good educational material. -- are difficult to come by.
While schools are available, only 67% of school age children attend school. Children from kindergarten to 7th grade pay an admission fee of $20-40 per school year. From 8th to 12th they pay around $50 per year. This is expensive for the average parent, who might only make $375 for the whole year.
Tom and Amy Morrow
The average teacher is making about $50 per month and is supposed to get an additional housing allowance. Salaries and other benefits are commonly late and strikes are frequent. To top this off, sicknesses such as HIV/AIDS, Malaria, TB and a mountain of other things add to the declining school standard. It was reported that in one district, only 30% of the education was taught in the school year!
We began admitting children to the facility in the middle of 2007, focusing primarily on children between the ages of 0-2, as this is a largely neglected age group.
• The children will be taught using advanced and modern teaching methods to ensure that their first years are used to the full.
• Attention will be placed on nutrition so that the babies and small children will develop properly. Many orphans suffer from malnutrition or a weakened immune system so adequate nutrition is essential to their development.
• Caregivers have been individually chosen, based on their love for children and desire to help the children in their care to grow up well.
With Zambia having massive health problems relating to HIV/AIDS, a large percentage of the working and professional people of Zambia will no longer be around in 10 years. The vision of Global Contributions is to raise children that will one day help contribute to rebuilding Zambia’s economy and infrastructure.