Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What it Means to Be Alone

I just returned from nearly three weeks in Lusaka, Zambia, where my colleagues and I spent many hours working in the desperately poor communities of Chibolya and Kanyama. Children International’s community centers have made a remarkable difference in the less than four short years we’ve had a presence there.

One of the most touching stories I encountered was that of Mary and her four younger brothers and sister: Mwanza, 12, Clever, 9, Manase, 7, and Lavmo, 5. Mary is just 14, and she’s been both mom and dad to her siblings for nearly as long as any of them can remember.

These five children live completely alone. No relatives care for them. In fact, when their mom died and left them the tiny shack where they live, their relatives showed up just long enough to take whatever furniture was in the house and then left the children to fend for themselves.

One of Children International’s volunteers lives nearby, and she does what she can to look after the children, who survive any way they can. Mary goes through the neighborhood looking for opportunities to wash dishes or do laundry for her neighbors, and the older boys, Mwanza and Clever, roam the streets looking for odd jobs or just begging for food.

The day before we visited these orphans, Clever had gone to the city market to beg. When darkness fell, it was too dangerous for him to go home – so he slept all night in a ditch in the city market. Nine years old.

We’re excited because we’ve found sponsors to help Mary, Clever and Manase get on the right track. You should have seen Mary’s smile when she realized she would be able to fulfill her dream of going back to school!

But we still need to help Mwanza and Lavmo. Would you consider sponsoring one of them today? It’s bad enough to be a child living in desperate poverty…but it’s even worse to be all alone.

If you’d like to sponsor one of these children, please drop an email to blog@children.org. We’ll handle your sponsorship personally.

Photo by Scott Cotter.

5 comments:

evergreen3 said...

I'm willing to provide food, clothing and furniture for the children if a list of needs can be sent to me. I'm still waiting to hear back regarding sponsoring another child in Ecuador (my 11th). However, if no other sponsors come forward to sponsor the 2 remaining children in the next 24 hours, please contact me regarding sponsorship of one of them. If some additional information regarding the two available children can be provided that would help. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I would actually be willing to add mwanza to my list of sponsored children if you would contact me. I sent an email .

Dana

ScottC said...

I was in Lusaka and met these wonderful and brave kids. It was heartbreaking to hear their story and see the resignation in their faces. But I could also see that they were brave and were not going to give up. Clever told me he wasn't scared at all when he slept in the ditch. Such a brave young boy.

The good news -- if there is any -- is that they found a kind soul in the older woman who lives behind them and she does what she can to provide them with a bit of attention and food. Bless her for her kindness. She has three orphans living with her now...children she found wandering the market looking for scraps of food on the ground.

Of course, what is really wonderful is your response to their plight and the many others we've mentioned here. Makes me proud to be a part of the CI family and to know that together we're able to change lives. I know with so many people ready to help that we can guide these kids in a more positive direction.

Thanks to all of you for your continued support and generosity.

Anonymous said...

I am happy to say i have made Lavmo my 7th sponsored child. I am cautiously optimistic that getting him into sponsorship at the early age of 5 will create an opportunity for him to get an education and grow up healthy and able to lead a productive life. There is alot of work ahead, but it can be done!

Dana

Heather M said...

Dana,
I am happy to hear that you were able to sponsor Lovemore (Lavmo). I am interested in speaking to you. I thought it would be fun to speak with you regarding what you are doing for the family. Maybe we can pool resources. Mwanza is now my 5th sponsored child. I don't know the sponsors of other children in my sponsored children's families. I think it would be fun to keep in touch and compare notes. E-mail me, if you are interested. Heather heatherlecount@yahoo.com