Women and Girls Empowerment Activities
The women and girls empowerment Project aims to empower women with knowledge and skill to improve their lives. The activities are carried out through the Serving, Internal Lending Communities (SILC) groups in Chipata, Lundazi, Petauke and Katete Districts.
The Catholic Diocese is reaching out to a total number of 17,378 OVCs and 12,304 BCSs clients with Economic strengthening services. These services range from gardening activities, small businesses, small livestock like chickens and goats empowerment and SILC activities. In SILC, the diocese has a total number of groups standing at 102 with 1, 975 members in the four Districts. The number of women in the SILC groups is 1, 752. Total saving in the four districts is ZMW 219, 150 with a total loan value ZMW 363, 355.
The Diocese is also reaching out to girls in order to build their social capacities to stay and complete school. Activities such as education support, school clubs and psychosocial support and economic strengthening in the form of goats are being given to the orphaned boys and girls so that they remain in school. With support from World Vision, The project paid for 983 pupils doing different grades in school.
The Diocese has also empowered 494 OVC clients with goats. The number of goats distributed among them is 1,482. Each OVC household was given three goats which they will pass on to other households with OVC clients when the goats reproduce.
The Care Givers
The Catholic Diocese’s strength in reaching out to the community is in its community Volunteers in the province. The volunteers are called Care givers. They move from one house to the other reaching out to the community with different messages of social change. Every community, every village and every household in the province is assigned a care giver who reaches out to the individuals in their neighborhoods.
Stories from the field
Transformed To Transform My Community
Isaac’s success story By Evans Nsooka
Many a people today would not wish to indulge themselves in community work that offers no material or monetary benefits. This is mainly because no one would want to spend their precious limited time helping others. To many others, it would be “removing a plaque in their friend’s eye when they had a jacaranda tree standing in their own eye”. Many people are busy working so hard to fend for their families and are not very much concerned with what goes on in other people’s lives.
This was what preoccupied Isaac Tonga’s perceptions prior to his becoming a care giver and Site Coordinator under the STEPS OVC Project. He said he always wondered why community volunteers were always wasting time doing community work that never benefited them in any way. He said he never imagined himself working as a community Volunteer at any time in his life. But this changed when he was approached by his Parish Priest and asked to apply as a Site Coordinator for a Project that had come at their Church. He said this was the time that the cob webs in his head were being cleared about community work. Isaac went on to be one of the most hardworking Care givers and site Coordinators of the Project in Chipata in Eastern Zambia. Isaac is a 33 year old Care Giver and Site Coordinator under Kokwe Parish, a sub Grantee of the STEPS OVC PROJECT. He is from Mkubudu Village east of Chipata Town. This is what he had to say after many years as a Care Giver.
“At first I never wanted to be a Care Giver because I thought it was a waste of time but after I became a Care giver, I have learnt a lot of things in Community work and the STEPS OVC project has helped me learn a lot of things that I will continue to use to help my community. The kind of praise and appreciation I get from the people whose lives I have touched strengthens me and makes me continue to work for them. I thank STEPS OVC because of what it has helped me become, I now have more passion for the community than never before and this will make me continue to work and transform other people as well. After all we need each other and if we cannot help ourselves at community level, how do we expect others to come and help us?”
Isaac is one among many that the project has transformed at community level, the passion that Isaac uses to reach out to others. This life is indeed transformed to transform others.
When I lost all Hope
Barbra’s story By Evans Nsooka
Born into a life where secondary education is attained by only those who can afford it and access to service provision is very limited. Barbra Thole, a St Margaret’s grade 12 pupil from Kasambala Village of Chipata District in Eastern Zambia found herself in a situation where she was unable to pay for her own education. Barbra had a mother who had a chronic disease that depleted her family’s little income as they moved from one hospital to another in search of a cure. Barbra is one of the beneficiaries of the education support under the STEPS OVC project. She started receiving Education support from STEPS OVC after the demise of her mother when she was still in school. By the time Barbra started receiving support, she was in school and for three weeks she had not yet paid for her school fees and it was eminent that she was to be sent away for failure to pay her school fees. This is when she was enrolled in the Programme. This is what she had to say
“I lost all hope of completing my secondary education when my family failed to pay for my school fees after being in the school for the weeks. When my care giver told me that I was registered for Education Support, I was so excited. After a week, I was told that school fees had been paid for me for the whole year. I am so grateful to STEPS OVC for paying for me and for giving me hope of becoming what I want to become. I am now in school preparing for my Exams with a peace of mind. I have also improved so much academically. Indeed I lost hope but now I have a future.”
This is one of the many pupils that the project has supported through the component of education support. Many boys and girls who lost all hope now have hope for a bright future.
I Was Dying
Linda’s Story By Evans Nsooka
The fear of going to the clinic to get tested and knowing that I am HIV positive is what was killing me.” This is the story of Linda Phiri of Chikata Village in Chipata District in the eastern part of Zambia. Linda 44, started getting sick most often in his village after the death of his husband. She said she did not know what was wrong with her but was afraid to go test for HIV because she thought she would not cope with the knowledge that she was HIV Positive. Her health deteriorated that it caught the attention of other community members. It was during this time that a STEPS OVC care giver visited her and counselled her to take a step of knowing her HIV status. She said it was not easy but later on “I gave it a go because the Care Giver was persistent and constantly visited me, my health also deteriorated so I gave in. After testing, I was found to be HIV Positive, this news was not well come and difficult to receive but with continued counselling, I coped well until I was commenced on Drugs. With the support of the care giver, my CD4 Count increased so much that in 3 months it reached 750 cells. I have been on these drugs until now.”
“I am very okay now, I am able to work well, better than those who do not even take drugs, I am able to fend for myself and the 3 orphans under my care. I am so grateful to STEPS OVC and more especially Charity Mbewe my Care Giver who has continued to visit me. Without her I could be history by now but this woman gave me a second chance to live and take care of my children. I am also one of those people living with HIV and AIDS who is open during community meetings to share my story with other community members who may be afraid of going for counselling and testing. I also encourage more especially the young people to abstain so that they don’t have to go through what I had gone through.”