Mbala is an impoverished city with large slum areas. This is home to those who have left the countryside for the city in the hopes of finding work. They build their homes on the edge of the city. But most people do not find work in Mbala. The slums where they live - called the Zambia Compound in its entirety - are very different from our villages and cities. The roads are unpaved and in such bad condition that you cannot drive a regular car on them. Due to heavy rains during the rainy season, they are full of potholes and often have deep ditches on the sides. There is no clean water or electricity in many parts of the Zambia Compound. This means that people have to go to the river for water, but it also means that there are no working toilets or sewage system. This is unhygienic and makes people sick. In addition, there is little space to grow your own vegetables.
Around thirty years ago, a major problem was added to the misery: many adults became infected with the AIDS virus. At first, when no one knew exactly what the disease was, many people died of AIDS. A lot of children also became infected through their mothers, during labor or breastfeeding. Many fathers and mothers died, leaving behind orphans. Most of these children are taken care of by family. As a result, there are many grandmothers in the Zambia Compound and Mbala area who care for their grandchildren because their sons and daughters, the children’s parents, have died. This is not easy for them; they are old, can no longer work and have children who are dependent on them for survival.
These families are extremely poor. Many of them eat only one meal a day, sometimes even less. The children have to beg for food from the neighbors. There is no money to pay for school or, for example, a school uniform. The amount owed - around 15 euros a year - may not be much for us, but is an impossible amount for many families to pay. As a result, many of the children here do not go to school or only for a few years. And any extra money is spent on the boys’ schooling. Girls are expected to marry young and many people feel it is a waste of money to send them to school.
The donations go to the Sunsuntila orphanage and the Victor Braun School (click on the projects to learn more) for disabled children. The schools are in direct need of teaching materials like books and calculators, as well as toys and games. The Sisters would also like to buy a television with DVD player, so that the children have something to do indoors during the rainy season. The Victor Braun School also needs special materials such as a home trainer and walkers for the physically disabled children.
In the film Emeldah, who goes to the Sunsuntila orphanage daily, explains how they never know if they will have enough to eat from day to day and how the HID program has enabled her to go to school and get a daily meal.
There is also a video on the complete program developed by the Sisters in Mbala in which you can see how adults also receive help getting their lives back on track and a number of videos about adults talking about how this project has improved their lives. All of these films can be found on our YouTube channel.