Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, bordered by the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its 13.8 million people mostly live in and around the capital city of Lusaka. Its primary export is copper, and its largest tourist attraction is Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Christianity is the dominant religion, but Islam, Hinduism, and indigenous religions are also represented.
Life expectancy is one of the lowest in the world, with the average being 49 years for men and 50 years for women; this is primarily due to high infant and child mortality rates, as well as the HIV/AIDS epidemic that continues to this day. Unlike most of its neighbors, Zambia is politically stable in that it has avoided the war and social upheaval common to African countries in postcolonial times.
Fr. Pierre Ruquoy works at the Sunflower Family Center, where he ministers to the children who live there, as well as those from the local community who benefit from the services provided by the Center. Fr. Pierre says, “Our goal, our mission, is to turn what could have been a life of permanent tragedy into a life of hope and dignity. And I can tell you from personal experience – working with these children each day – that this is precisely what is happening. The joy and hope in their faces is sometimes more than I can absorb!”
Fr. Wilfreddo “Pops” Sabarillo is currently working on the outskirts of Mulungushi, in a diocese that is only four years old, at St. Monica’s parish. He regularly takes his parishioners to clinics and hospitals--in 72 villages there are only three clinics, and those provide only the most basic medical care--when they have no other means of transportation.
Fr. Peter Koh is currently living and working in Rome as Treasurer General of CICM, but he started a school for poor children, who would otherwise be spending their days on the streets or working in the fields. This school in Zambia still continues to this day.
Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3)
Childhood ought to be a time of vulnerability, curiosity, wonder, and boundless opportunity. Our Lord praised children for their simplicity of heart and openness to the Father's love. But what about the children who, because of poverty and disease are forced to grow up too soon? What about the children who have not yet experienced the unconditional love of God?
We hope this guide will give you insight into the social issues the Zambian community, especially children, struggle with every day. We ask that as you read this guide you will pray with us for relief and comfort over our Zambian brothers and sisters.
The average Zambian adult lives on less than $1 a day and 64% of its population currently lives below the poverty line. According to UNICEF, “65 percent of women in female headed households choose to reduce the number of family meals per day as their only coping mechanism, especially in the months of the hungry season before the harvest. Beyond the sensation of hunger, this lack of nourishment means children in such households are very likely to have impaired physical and cognitive development.”
Not only are children in Zambia likely to be malnourished, few of them have access to clean water. An estimated 36% of the Zambian population does not have access to clean water, 50% are without access to sanitation facilities, and 25% of basic schools do not have access to a safe water supply and sanitation.
PRAY: It’s the least and the most we can do for our brothers and sisters in need. Consider becoming a prayer partner and we will pray for you as well!
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Although universal primary education for grades 1-7 was established years ago in Zambia, current enrollment is only at 72%. Some parents do not send their children to school so that they can work in the fields to help support the family. Some parents send their children to private schools (which may or may not be recognized as legitimate educational institutions by the government) because they are closer (and therefore cheaper) than the nearest public school. And many children do not go to school simply because they are living on the streets, orphans of HIV/AIDS.
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