Chikumbuso Women and Orphans Project is a community centre and school that provides hope for the future of many women, orphans, and grandmothers. ‘Behind the walls of the centre they find peace from a life so consumed with the struggle of just getting by daily’, explains Linda Wilkinson, Founder of the project.
The AIDS crisis in Zambia has left behind 800,000 orphans, who require schooling and support. The school at Chikumbuso helps over 350 children ‘restart their lives in an environment of freedom far from fear’. ‘Our biggest challenge is the ongoing effects of HIV and poverty’ says Linda, ‘We make great efforts to alleviate some of our participants problems, but they don’t all go away. For some their health challenges get worse, for others the impact of higher rents and food are major challenges.’ Increases in the cost of living generally have had an impact too.
As well as providing for students, the project also supports 45 widows who work on a micro enterprise that brings them back to life economically and socially. Currently these women are producing unique hand made bags, which can be bought here.
Linda says that ‘Our ultimate motivation comes from God’s command to love widows and orphans, but also the love and response we get back from the widows and students keeps Chikumbuso moving. We have many proud moments – for example one of our students was commended as the top Grade 9 student in Lusaka last year; watching widows save up to purchase land and slowly build themselves homes; watching our students performance in all their subjects becoming better and hearing parents frank wonderment at their children’s desire to read more and more; and, we are very proud of the women’s hard work perfecting their craft with the handbags’.
We asked Linda how we could help. ‘Getting involved is easy: Buy some of our products or host a sale. We love local volunteers that can help with tutoring students, helping widows with their English, or helping us work on our products. We also have collection baskets we can place with local companies to collect the recycled plastic grocery bags we use in our products. Companies can get involved by making cash or in-kind donations. At the moment we are preparing to build another classroom and are seeking donations of cement, blocks, and especially good high quality paint.’
If you want to get in touch with the Chikumbuso Women and Orphans Project, you can visit their website at http://www.chikumbuso.com/, or call Gertrude on 0977369097.