Yokonia Mwale, Aged 24

December 20, 2006

My name is Yokonia Mwale, I’m 24, single and live in Chipata, Zambia. I am the second born out of three.Yoko

 
HIV/AIDS is the biggest problem in Chipata because it has brought a lot of implications in many sectors – teaching, nursing…. Almost everyone is affected or infected in our country leaving children with no hope.

 
Orphanages have become rampant in our district due to HIV/AIDS, because of this, levels of illiteracy have gone high, child abuse, in particular the use of child labour has increased.

 

It is suspected that my mother died as a result of HIV. When she died my schooling was affected. I was in Grade ten but I managed to overcome many obstacles and support myself through to Grade twelve.

 
I am now head of my household supporting several children while they are in education. I hope to be able to afford to put myself through nursing school when I no longer have to give financial support to my siblings.

 

When my mother died I was emotionally, physically and psychologically ill. I had no where to start from. After I completed Grade 12 in 2001 I involved myself in health activities e.g. peer education, care giver, TB treatment supporter, malaria prevention and control and now I am trained psychosocial counsellor working as a volunteer at Kapata clinic and New Start centre. This has helped me a lot to cope with life.

 
Zambia has a large population, but few people know their rights (about 55% according to a recent survey) more especially women and children most of them are blank about their rights. Advocacy has to be put in place for every person to enjoy the being.

Zambian Youth Perspective

December 12, 2006

Henry Namwenda, Aged 18, Chipata

henry-namwenda.JPG

Of the total population of Zambia, 70% constitute of the youths, defining Zambia’s population as young. There are are a number of issues affecting the youths were HIV is one of the big issues affecting the young people in Zambia.

Among other problems facing the youths of Zambia, higher rate of unemployment and gender violence (especially to those in the peri-urban or rural areas).

HIV, which is human immuno-deficiency virus, has destroyed and brought about a lot of pain and suffering among the life of young Zambian. It has increased the number of orphans and vulnerable children because their beloved and breadwinner died. It has left no hope in most lives of young Zambians because even when they go to school they face massive stigma and discrimination. They are some who still do not understand their purpose of life and driven by peers.

Of all, stigma has always been the biggest issue among the young Zambians affected by the pandemic. They fail to suit themselves in the society or community, they think they are outcast and can never mount to anything in life. The situation become worse when they see their friends with their beloved parents enjoying moments together, this is preferably because they are emotionally impaired and wished they would also share or have such moments.

Another problem facing the young people of Zambia today is youth unemployment. There are a number and masses of young people that have good qualification but do not have a job. There are just no jobs for them. It always pains them if they are heading a family or taking care of their fellow brothers and sisters. A lot of young people have blamed the government for the poor educational and employment policies despite having the ministries of education and labour. This disparity has increased the number of street vendors (who are mainly the youths) in the communities and towns. This is for the reason that they want to at list find something to get home so that they feed the ones they taking care of. It is so unfortunate because even the university graduates can still hover around the communities.

This however, results in young people participating in different forms of illicit behaviours, hence increasing promiscuity and preverences rate of HIV. This without any doubt is one of the major influences of the higher HIV infections rate in the country.

Gender violence is one of the major is hindrances to progressiveness among the youths of Zambia. From the survey I carried out with “youth development foundation” in chipata district of eastern province, the fact of being male or female has really brought problems in the community. For example, girls are known to be placed in the kitchen together with the mother while boy goes to play and mingle with friends. Boys have equally expressed them being violated because girls favored a lot. Take for example the university of Zambia, 30% of the students enrolled have to be women and the remaining 70% boys again have to compete with the girls.

Gender violence has brought a lot of disparities, as it does not look at race or colour. Child abuse has come in, which even involves child sexual abuse.

All these problems among the young people have resulted into retardation in the development of the nation as it they constitute the 70% of the total population of Zambia. There is therefore need to look at how these issues can be addressed in the communities

 

Pose a question for Henry to respond to on youth, HIV/AIDS, Zambia or anything else…..

Photos

November 27, 2006

Here are some more photos,

This is Chinoya, my boss and the rest of the YDF lot outside my house:

ydf-group.JPG

chinoya-1.JPG

One good week, one bad week

November 23, 2006

YDF workshop prioritisation exercise

Last week I had a really good week at work. This week was really frustrating. There wasn’t really any obvious difference between them and the weathers cooled down so I should be happier. But I think it’s the realisation that however talented and motivated they are, and whatever the quality of the fundraising applications we write, there is a limited pot of money and an unlimited number of organisations trying to get it.

I began last week by establishing committees to look at all of YDF’s programmes for 2007, and their fundraising work. Loads of people signed up to them, and most of them turned up to the meetings. They wanted assignments to do for the next week and most of them had finished these before the next meetings.

On Saturday morning they had agreed to come to my house for a workshop, where I could get to know where the organisation wants to be in a year and their needs. 15 of them turned up and participated really well. Reassuringly they didn’t bring up anything too new, and seemed sold on the idea of focusing on a few achievable objectives for this year. In a short session on fundraising, they came out with pretty much everything I know (this added to the fact they’ve written some pretty decent applications) left me thinking my job would just be to edit these into better English. Great!

This week I realise that my job isn’t going to be just editing their funding applications. There is a big gap between their knowledge of the issues, and their knowledge of how to run programmes. More specifically, the few people who do know how to run an organisation are busy going to network meetings, so I’m working with people just out of school who haven’t had a job before. Unfortunately I have to spend lots of times talking about being SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound). I’m hoping to introduce some more acronyms to keep it interesting.

There’s more jargon here than you can shake a stick at so it can seem that they’re light years ahead in their thinking. For example 18 year olds will often talk about participation, facilitation, empowerment, corporate strategic plans, sensitisation etc. etc. But scratch the surface and there is often no substance to this talk. I’ve sent off my first funding application for a couple of computers and internet connection designated for young women in Chipata so we’ll see how that goes. After that I’m going to attempt to tap up all the Embassies.

Chipata

November 6, 2006

Chipata

 

We’re living in Chipata, the capital of the Eastern Province of Zambia. So far I really like it. Its big enough to have everything you need, and not so big as to have all the problems of an urban centre.

Depending on where you draw the boundaries, Chipata has around 350,000 people living here. Most of the people are Zambians with a few thousand Muslim Indians, and a handful of us Muzungus.

 

 

There are busy markets, a Shoprite (South African supermarket chain) and a collection of shops in ‘The Downs’, a few streets which look like something out of the Wild West. These sell anything and everything and the Indian owners have been here for around four generations. Tradesmen can also be seen moulding bricks and making furniture on the roadside. However unemployment levels are high, and there are lots of people whose days seem to lack any structure.

One of the noticeable things about Chipata is the amount of space. There aren’t the same high-density slums you would get in Lusaka or other capital cities. It even has a golf course of sorts! Cross the border to Malawi 20km away and you notice much greater land pressure.

Chipata is in a valley surrounded by hills. About an hour away is South Luangwa National Park, by all accounts one of Africa’s best safari parks. It’s currently the height of summer here and temperatures hit 35 degrees everyday. In a couple of weeks the rainy season will come. For four months or so, there will be torrential rain every afternoon and travelling will become much harder.

Most people travel on foot. If they’re bringing goods into town to sell they stack them high on the back of a bicycle and walk, sometimes for a couple of days. It’s common to see a live chicken, goat or pig on the back of a bicycle, or 2-3 human passengers. Cars are owned by a small number of businessmen, tourists and development workers and travel through at about 70 miles an hour.

Formerly Fort Jameson, Chipata was the regional post for British colonialists. It’s border location has led to the growth of a sizeable town since independence. It’s going for city status by 2010.

As I said I really like it so far. While the poverty and other problems are evident, as a privileged Westerner it’s pretty nice living here.

Where I work

November 2, 2006

1940 Building where I work

I’ve been working for a few days at my organisation now, the Youth Development Foundation (YDF). They are located in a really nice old colonial building.

 

 

 

 

Sharing a small office with one computer with another organisation, the capacity to get much done is quite limited. But then there isn’t a huge amount to do at the moment anyway. For the elections last month, YDF ran education and registration campaigns in the District in an attempt to increase turnout.

 ydf-office.JPG

The members of YDF are all really nice, bright young people with massive potential. Two of them find out next month if they have got into the University of Zambia. Their names will be published in the paper if they were successful. The lack of study or work opportunities, has left them attempting to do something to improve their situation. And this is a common past-time in Chipata. There seem to be a limitless number of organisations working on poverty, AIDS, food security, gender…..But at the moment, most NGOs including mine don’t seem to do a massive amount.

 

This isn’t really surprising considering they have no money, very few resources and there isn’t a single paid member of staff.

 

My job for the year is to work with YDF to create sustainable sources of funding.

 

The most interesting schemes so far are potential income generating activities. I am looking into small-scale solar panels for use in remote rural areas and rubbish collection and recycling schemes as businesses to raise money for the activities of YDF.

 

It’s a bad idea trying to approach things the way you would in the UK. The logic just doesn’t translate. Instead it seems you just have to keep trying new approaches and see what works. 

Tribes

October 28, 2006

  Nyur men 'flying' at the top of a pole

There are 72 tribes in Zambia. Each tribe has its own language and cultural tradition.  While Zambia has statutory law, tribal law still holds great sway over the actions of many Zambians. Initially after independence tribal traditions were not encouraged by the government. The first President, Kenneth Kaunda, was seeking to unify Zambia as one nation and discouraged strong tribal identity as he believed it would tear the country apart.

 

The distribution of these tribes don’t respect borders drawn up by the colonial powers. So for instance Chewa tribes are found in Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique and may often see their first alliance to their tribes people rather than their compatriots. Of course this isn’t unique to Zambia or Africa, Europe is full of similar cross-border divides and alliances. But the extent to which tribes impact on Zambian life is really significant.

For instance a lady we met recently has very short hair. We found out later it had been part of her ‘cleansing’ after her husband had died. Another part of this was that she had to sleep with her husband’s brother. Initially she refused and the in-laws came round her house and started removing her possessions. The hair cut suggests she may have given in, and this is how tribal law is enforced.

In the Eastern Province boys are encouraged to spend six months with the Nyur men, being taught traditional ways. Some people have resisted this due to the time out of school, and the changes in these boys when they return. The boys will refuse to listen to a teacher who has not been initiated in these ceremonies.