Cover Story

From hopelessness to hope

"From hopelessness to hope" Continued...

Issue: "Saving Isaac," Nov. 10, 2007

Harriet Nyirenda, 20, "became pregnant in grade nine and could not continue with my education . . . all hope was gone." But now she is learning farming and "growing as a Christian. The morning prayers and Bible studies are helping a lot. . . . I am surprised at my desire to read the Bible every day. . . . God is in control of my life. I have hope all will be well."

George Banda, 25, married with one child, had a record of failure and exploitation: "I have failed to continue with school. . . . I used to feel like a slave at my previous workplace. . . . Sometimes we worked for up to three months without pay. Here we always get paid on time. . . . The prayers and Bible study we have every morning . . . help me to live right during the day. I meditate on the word of God and not evil things."

Ireen Nankala, 18: "I was a difficult person to stay with but now God has changed me. I can't believe it: I enjoy the prayers and the Bible studies in the morning. . . . I wasn't a church girl but I always long to be at church every Sunday. . . . I still have a lot to learn to be a better Christian."

Chilala Teteta, 23: "I was fired from school in grade nine for stealing school money. I did all kinds of bad things. . . . I gave my life to Christ last year. . . . The word of God keeps on revealing more about me and helps me to see what God wants me to be."

Grace Mkazamwene, 18: "My parents died when I was young. . . . I now feel that I have a future. . . . I used to have a short hot temper . . . but now things are different, I am more patient with everyone. I have learned love."

Chisomo Shawa, 24, is married and has four children: "I like this place because it has changed my life. My life was wasting away because of beer drinking. Six months ago God helped me stop. . . . Apart from learning more about God in this place I have also acquired some skills like making interlocking blocks and concrete blocks, bricklaying and cooking."

Each of the workers is paid 8,000 kwacha per day: Sounds like a lot, but that's $2 (better than the standard wage of $1.70 per day). Sixty percent of the employees are orphans themselves, often supporting younger brothers and sisters. Many had never worked before, seen a television program, or traveled even as far as Lusaka, but now they will have the opportunity to gain experience in marketable skills such as manufacturing burglar bars, a hot item in crime-prone Lusaka.

The Village of Hope has two-fifths of a mile of frontage along the Great North Road, Zambia's most-used highway, so its market should attract customers. The farm store that opened June 15 has increased sales each month: in September, 4,000 pounds of potatoes and another 4,000 pounds of tomatoes, oranges, and onions combined. Sales included 112 chickens and 3,450 eggs, with a resultant 7.6 percent profit after all expenses.

The farm store now has a cold storage building to increase the shelf life of vegetables. With electricity now run along the road-front to the market, the next goal is a refrigerator (with a local farmer providing milk, cheese, and yogurt to sell) and a freezer for chickens. Employees regularly suggest money-making ideas, such as selling fried chicken along with fish and chips so that long-transport buses will stop. (Give bus drivers a free meal and they will.)

The project measures progress partly in terms of relationships. Little boys named Adam, Isaac (also pictured on cover), and Moses now receive care. Housemothers Miriam and Rose take care of children as they come. Directing the entire orphanage aspect are Francis and Kimberly Kamau-he's Kenyan, she's an African-American-who with their two children live in one of the cement-block homes.

Kamau, as everyone calls him, and his wife Kimberly are both 42. Kamau's father was never part of his life but his mother held on as they moved to the Nairobi slums when he was 15 and encountered "chaos, smells, utter hopelessness." He worked fixing radios and then making kerosene lamps until at 24 he made it to a Youth With a Mission training school, and then became a missionary in Moscow and Kiev. He returned from the Ukraine in 1994 to find his mother in the last stages of AIDS; she died in his arms "in a most horrible way" the day after his return.

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