A Bwacha Community Update from Rita Prins, WOW Executive Director.
Bwacha is a poor community within Kabwe, Zambia. Many people are struggling. Since the mines have closed in this town, employment has decreased to incredibly low levels. The cost of living has remained the same in the whole of Zambia and so people are finding themselves in desperate situations. There is little food for families, children are unable to attend school because of the required school fees and uniforms and even clothing is not being replaced. It has come to the point where people have moved into survival mode and are no longer planning for the future but only thinking of meeting their immediate needs. Children are hungry now, relatives are in need of medical care now, clean water needs to be obtained now. Bwacha is a town where people are living in continuous emergency situations and its people cannot begin to plan and invest for tomorrow.
Susan Reynolds and I visited Shekinah Glory School on Tuesday April 13th. The school was closed for holidays but the Director Teresa Ng’oma and Headmaster Alice Kunda travelled to the school just to greet us. They also brought with them three older children who have been attending the school for the past while.Teresa shared with us how the school has grown from one room in her house to a now strong, vibrant three room school. It is equipped with school supplies, desks and blackboards. There are also pit latrines for proper sanitation and a borehole for fresh water. It seemed like there was an air of hope emitting from the school walls themselves.It was a stark contrast to the homes and small businesses in the surrounding community.
Because of the support from King Street Pentecostal Church, 126 children are now receiving a quality education. 22 students will be writing their grade 7 exams this year and each year the class sizes have grown. We talked with each of the students and discovered that their home lives were very difficult. Most students are eating only one meal per day, sleeping on feed bags and sharing a single blanket. One of the children walks 5 km each day to attend school. Their headmaster explained that if these students were not in school the boys may very well end up wandering the streets, looking for something to occupy their time and the girls would be forced into early marriage in hopes of bringing more food and income into the family, or else turn in desperation to prostitution. We could see in their eyes their desire to learn and we could see that they were already thinking ahead. The two boys wanted to be teachers and the young girl wished to be a nurse.
When we talked with Alice the school headmaster, a mother of 4 children herself, she explained to us that her education was not free. It came at a cost and yet she has been working as a volunteer for 5 years. She shared that even though the hearts of the teachers have kept them at Shekinah Glory School and their desire to serve the Lord is strong, they are also desperate for some incentives. The need for an income generating activity to support the school is obvious and the drive for this school to continue to thrive and grow is strong. Much has been done so far, many children’s lives have been changed for the long term but to continue what was started we must also look to the future and consider investing in a project where the school can profit enough to pay the teachers and even allow more students to attend.
God is at work in the lives of children in Bwacha. Shekinah Glory School most certainly shines as a light of hope and love, investing in Zambia’s most precious resource, their children.