As Human Development Facilitator in Zambia, assigned to Muchinshi community in particular, and having been part of the groundbreaking work in Muchinshi for the past 11 months, I have interacted with many families whose lives are being changed by the Participatory Human Development Process.
Their stories include Florence Sanene’s, whose 3-year old son Richard Kababa’s life was changed from an almost disabled to a playful little boy through a locally managed feeding program. Severely malnourished and lacking strength, Richard was unable to walk despite his age. When a community group facilitated by Outreach International decided to start a feeding program for severely malnourished children using locally available legumes and cereal grains mixed into a ‘super flour’ called Chimamu in the local language, Florence joined in with four other mothers, seeing a ray of hope for her son’s growth. Little did she know that it was going to dramatically change both her and her son’s life –and in a short period of time.
After only 3 months of being on the regimen, i.e., 4 feedings per week using the ‘super flour’ as a supplement to family meals, much to the astonishment of everyone involved, Richard, whose starting weight was 9.500 Kg, was able to gain 1.400 Kg, to gain strength and to start walking. The feeding program started on June 7, 2012 and on August 12, 2012 Richard made his very first steps and has been improving steadily since.
Florence said, “the condition of this child was a source of concern for me and his father Dickson. We suspected it could have something to do with our poor living conditions, especially feeding but there was little we could do to improve it. So, when Richard was selected together with 4 other children to be the first on the feeding program, we accepted and supported it. We could have felt embarrassed but the facilitator was there to help, not to embarrass us. He led our community to look objectively at our situation, analyze our most critical needs and identify workable solutions. He further motivated us to start doing things for ourselves as we planned.”
“I become involved with the other ladies in the feeding program while my husband joined the vegetable growers’ group. We are active in both the farmland ownership and the clean water committees. Today, Richard is walking just as any other child, and I am hopeful that he is going to catch up with his age mates. This feeding program is a road to total recovery. Yet we use just corn, rice, beans and sometimes soya beans all locally available and even grown in our gardens. Just the mixing of the formula taught to us by Outreach International made the difference. We are looking forward to making the formula available to more kids in Muchinshi.”
As Country Coordinator for the field program in Zambia, and having been in the field for the past 16 years, I have worked with many families in several villages of the Luapula and the Copperbelt Provinces of Zambia whose lives have been changed by the Participatory Human Development Process.
Their stories include John Mashilipa ’s from the Luano community in Chingola, Copperbelt Province, who was able to change his life from a desperate jobless poor and food beggar to a net food producer and market gardener/ vegetable supplier and says that: “I had no employment and no way to support my family. There were many days that we went without any food at all. When Outreach International began working in our community, I quickly saw that this was something I wanted to be part of to be able to help my family and myself out of our desperate situation. It was suggested that we who were out of work could farm the land around our community. Outreach International helped me negotiate a fair price and loan rate for farmland, farming tools and good quality seeds. They showed us how to use chicken manure to fertilize the soil and helped me develop simple irrigation techniques. Today, I grow enough vegetables and corn to sell some at the local market. I even supply some schools with food for their lunch programs. At the market, many people prefer organic vegetables. So, I can charge a little more.”
“I have managed to save US$350.00 and even have my own bank account, for the first time in my life! Outreach International has made all the difference. I have been able to pull myself and my family out of poverty. We enjoy three nutritious meals every day, and our children are less vulnerable to illness. They are much healthier. I have repaid my loans, but that’s not all. I have built three homes for my extended family. I am also sending the youngest members of my family to school as I am now able to pay for their school fees.”