Where Are They Now: Catherine & Nelson

Our Mission here at Villages of Hope-Africa is to “bring lasting hope to children at risk so they can embrace adulthood as independent and contributing members of society”, and that’s why we love to share with you where the village of hope kids are now! In this series of posts, we will follow up with some of the VOH graduates to see what they are up to and how Villages of Hope has helped them get there! Today we talk about Catherine and Nelson…


Catherine Ngambi

After Catherine’s parents passed away, her older brother was left in charge of caring for her. However, because he could not afford school fees nor could he provide the both of them with basic needs, he found it very difficult to be her caregiver. When Catherine was ten, her brother  heard about the Village of Hope in Kitwe, and so he approached us for help. Catherine moved into one of the children’s homes shortly after this and was finally able to attend school and have her basic needs met.

Catherine’s brother continued to visit her throughout the years that she lived at VOH-Kitwe and, he was very thankful she was receiving all of the things he’d so badly wished he could provide for her.

After Catherine graduated from the VOH-Kitwe Community Highschool, she entered the youth transition program where she learned a variety of life skills including how to use a computer. After leaving the Village in 2010, Catherine move to Lusaka and is staying with friends there while studying computer technology.

Catherine still visits her home at VOH Kitwe several times a year.

 

Nelson Lubasi

Nelson moved into one of the children’s homes at VOH-Kitwe in 1999 when he was 12 years old, and moved out when he graduated in 2010.

After Nelson’s father passed away he was sent to live with his aunt. One day she sent him to the market to buy some paraffin with the equivalent of about 25 cents, nelson lost the money on the way and went back home without purchasing anything. He was told to go back and find the money and to not return until he did. Nelson couldn’t find it anywhere and was afraid to return home so he ended up on the streets of Kitwe.

Within a few days a lady working in the area noticed him and brought him to Village of Hope. Nelson moved into one of the children’s homes and stayed until he graduated high school.

Now Nelson works for the Village of Hope in Chongwe – where, as the Driver, he is responsible for all of the building and operating purchases for the village!

 

Recent Graduates!

And here are two of the latest VOH-Kitwe Community School Graduates: Mateyo and Hope. Well done, guys!

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Don’t forget to check us out on Twitter: @voh_africa

 

Welcome to our New Website!

Welcome to our new Website!

We are so excited to share our new website with you. A lot has changed from our old site and there is now even more information and exciting content that will allow you to get to know us a little bit better.

So What’s New?

One of the most interesting features we’ve added to our site is a list of our Programs. We’ve created pages offering more information on the various ways we bring hope to those in need.

Our Programs:

We’ve also updated our Village pages. Find out what is going on at each of our locations, read Country Profiles that show education & health statistics, and visit our Staff pages and new galleries!

Visit our village pages:

And if you haven’t yet:

And don’t forget to check out our new Galleries!

And last but not least, if you’re ‘Social‘ follow us!

Director’s Blog: VOH-Kitwe turns 13-years old

This month, Village of Hope-Kitwe (the first VOH location) turns 13-years old! We’ve come a long way since then, and here are some thoughts from Executive Director Sergio Bersaglio, sharing some of the things he’s learnt  over the past decade+.

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The other day I attended a meeting with the house mothers and teachers of one of our villages. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the development of individual care plans for the children. Kristin Neufeld, a volunteer from Canada, was helping us to develop a template that could be used by all our villages.

As I sat and listened to the dialogue about the challenges that our house mothers and teachers face both in the homes and classrooms, I was so impressed with the level of understanding these ladies have of the challenges the children are facing. They knew about the backgrounds of the children, how they were doing at school, who was struggling with what subject, and which children had behavioural problems.

There was also discussion about how to address these problems, with great ideas coming  from both house mothers and teachers. I think the best idea that came out of the meeting was that the house mothers would have bi-weekly meetings with the teachers to discuss the progress of the resident children.

We also discovered that children who attend our school who do not live in one of our children’s homes have their own unique challenges. Many have to work before coming to school causing them to be late. Most have care-givers who are illiterate and unable to help the children with their homework. Many are sent to school early because the care-giver has gone off to work. However, on a positive note, I was told that many of the community children come to the village even when school is closed. They see Village of Hope as a child-friendly place and enjoy coming to the village to play with the children who live there.

I was impressed how the house mothers were in tune with what was going on with the community children. This gives us a great opportunity to assist those who are struggling with their education during school breaks and to strive to make Village of Hope an even more child-friendly place.

At the end of our meeting I realized that we have come a long way in 13 years. Back in 1999 when we opened the first children’s home in Kitwe, Zambia we were not aware of issues such as Child Protection Policies, the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, or official care plans. Our focus was on providing shelter, nutrition and education for children in need. This was a “one size fits all” approach to care. Today we know that the needs of vulnerable children vary from child to child. Many face challenges that we cannot imagine. We have learned over time that we can help these children overcome these challenges by caring for them as individuals.

If there is one valuable lesson I have learned as a leader over the last 13 years, it is that Village of Hope is a work in progress and will always be a work in progress. As the challenges children face change, we as an organization need to be ready to adapt our programs if we expect to make a real difference in the lives of the children in our care. This is not easy, but if everyone takes on the attitude of the mothers and teachers I met with the other day, it will be possible.

My Trip to VOH-Kitwe by Lauren Bersaglio

Recently I paid a visit to the Village of Hope in Kitwe, Zambia. It had been nearly two years since my last visit and I was so happy with what I saw, so I took lots of pictures and kept some mental notes so I could share my experience with you guys!

VOH-Kitwe opened in July 1999 (I was only 10 years old!) and clearly a lot has changed since then. The first time I set foot on the VOH-Kitwe site there wasn’t much more besides a couple of buildings, some very large anthills, and a dream. Now, thirteen years later, the school runs from Preschool to grade 12; there are 13 childrens’ homes; 8 youth homes, and over 160 children living on site with over 1,000 children receiving free education from the school.

How things have changed!

As we drove down the road towards the Village, passing through Race Course Compound (one of the largest in the city), the first thing that caught my attention was the apparent change in the children living there. When we first moved to Kitwe, driving through Race Course we could see that obvious signs of poverty as children with expanded bellies from lack of nutrition would stare, point, or smile and wave at us as we drove by – the more outgoing shouting ‘BUBBLE!’ as we passed (hoping we would stop to give them some candy or gum). This time, however, the children were there, the smiles and waves were there, but one thing was missing: the expanded tummys.

Children from Racecourse playing Soccer

Where thirteen years ago the majority of the children showed this obvious sign of malnutrition, now the majority do not. And I can’t help but think this can be attributed, in part, to the Feeding Programme at VOH. Each day, the students of the VOH-Kitwe community school are given HEPS formula (High Energy Protein Supplement) as part of our Feeding Programme – every cup ensuring that each child receives the nutrition he/she needs for the day.

It may be a coincidence – either way, it was encouraging to see the apparent improvement of health among the children of the local community!

As we approached Village of Hope, Whiteson (the security guard) opened the gate and we drove in. It was so great to see Whiteson again along with other members of the staff: George Zyambo, Fridah Chibuye, Aunty Everlyn Chitente, all the house mothers (some old, some new), and my old friend James (the driver) who I used to see every day when he would stop by our house. I also got to see some of the ‘kids’ (who are no longer kids) that I remember from the early days of VOH who have now grown-up and are part of the Youth Programme or are now working at VOH themselves!

Martin & I at VOH-Kitwe

One of the highlights, however, was meeting my parents’ Sponsor Child, Martin! Martin is from the local community and lives with his grandmother, and attends the VOH school. I hadn’t met him before, so it was great to get to know him. We were both a little shy of getting our picture taken – but I’m glad we braved through it!

I also got a chance to visit the preschool, check out the Library, and visit some of the childrens’ homes.

Walking around the VOH site, it was so encouraging to see so many children running

around playing sports, swinging, climbing monkey bars, and going to school. It was also nice to see all the staff interacting with the children and the children interacting with each other. There was a true sense of love and joy.

But my favourite part: looking out the window of the office and seeing a bunch of girls in a circle holding hands and playing “Patty Cake, Patty Cake”.

Here are some more pictures from my visit:

(click to view larger image)

Happy Mother’s Day! (meet the mothers of VOH Africa)

For this month’s Newsletter we decided to feature some of the wonderful house mothers of Villages of Hope! We decided to share the stories on our blog as well for those of you who haven’t yet signed up for our monthly newsletter, because we didn’t want you to miss out on these great stories!

Happy Mother’s Day!!

If you would like to subscribe to our newsletter, CLICK HERE


Forward from Sergio Bersaglio:

When we think about what a mother is, we most often think of women who nurture and care for their biological children. However, there are many women who have a mother to child bond with those who are not their biological children. I think of the relationship between Naomi and Ruth in the Old Testament.

Naomi was a woman who had experienced great hardship and loss in her life. Drought hit the land and she was forced to leave her home to go live in a foreign land. There her two sons married women who were Moabites. Then Naomi’s husband died and in time so did her two sons. Naomi was now left alone or so she thought.

The time came when she was ready to return to her home land, she told her two daughters-in-law that they were free to return to their people as she was leaving Moab. There was great sadness among the three women; obviously there was something about Naomi which caused the two women to see her as more than a mother-in-law. Eventually one left but Ruth remained with her. The bond between the two was so strong that Ruth was willing to leave her country, culture and religion to be with Naomi. Ruth said to Naomi, “For where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” Naomi must have been a special woman for Ruth to be willing to do this.

At Village of Hope we employ many women like Naomi, women who have experienced hardship and loss in their lives but are willing to leave their homes to come and care for vulnerable children, children who are not their biological children. The work they do is not easy as all of the children they care for are vulnerable and have suffered loss of their own. Some children will appreciate the work of the house mother but not have the same bond as a mother and biological child would. Some will leave as Orpah did in the story of Naomi. But there will be children who will have a strong bond like Ruth did. These will be the treasures for the house mothers. I pray that all the children will bond with their house mothers as Ruth bonded with her mother-in-law.
We want to share some stories with you of our house mothers.

These are the Naomi’s of Village of Hope…

Mother Charity Mbangweta (VOH-Mongu)

How long have you been at Village of Hope?

I have been with VOH since Sept 2009. I started in Septembers as the HEPS cook at the school! Then, in Sept 2010, I became the first housemother at VOH-Mongu.

What is your testimony both before and after arriving at Village of Hope?

In 2001 after becoming pregnant with my last born, Isaac, his father said he didn’t want the child. He even said I should take the medicine to abort the pregnancy. But I refused and so he left me to care for Isaac alone. I did not know how I would manage to give my son the proper upbringing or be able to financially provide for my family.

I was selling chitenge fabrics in town in 2003, when my daughter gave birth to her son, Mutende. Only one month after giving birth, my daughter passed away, leaving Mutende orphaned and so I took him into my home to raise him.

I began doing odd jobs in 2007 to help support myself and my family and in 2009 I began work as the HEPS cook at the Village of Hope school feeding program and when the first children’s home opened I became the housemother.

Over the past 10 years, I have suffered a lot! I even felt like there was no hope for my future or for my family. God has been faithful to help me and bring my life forward. I felt like nothing good could come from my life. But He has changed that.

How has working at Village of Hope impacted you?

Village of Hope has completely changed my life and my children’s lives. The future for my children is now completely different. I am very appreciative of VOH for the opportunity to work and be able to care for my son and grandson in the house. They are 2 of the children in the home and it is very nice to be able to care for them and send them to a great school.

 

Mother Ruth Mulenga (VOH-Kitwe)

How long have you been at Village of Hope?

I have been at VOH-Kitwe for five years now.

What is your testimony both before and after arriving at Village of Hope?

I come from a family of five children. I grew up as a single orphan because my mother died when I was only six months old. It was not easy for me, because so many family members took me into their houses for certain periods of time, some were nice, others were harsh and cruel especially my step mother who made me do house work very early each morning before going to school – at that time I was in grade 3.

After my eldest brother found a job and got married, he took me into his home. I was able to go to school and attend church. I later got married but after a few years my husband died. Life became very hard for me.

And then in 2007, my life got better when I came to Village of Hope-Kitwe and became a house mother.

How has working at Village of Hope impacted you?

Since I came to work for Village of Hope life has changed for the better, because I really enjoy living with these children that God has allowed me to help, it is just so wonderful.  I am able to know what they are going through because I was also an orphan at a very young age.

Village of Hope has been a blessing not only to the VOH children, but also to my family because it has given me shelter and employment as a widow and it has also helped me spiritually.

I thank God for all who support Village of Hope!

 

Mother Agness Malama (VOH-Chongwe)

How long have you been at Village of Hope?

I have been at Village of Hope Chongwe for 8 Months now.

What is your testimony both before and after arriving at Village of Hope?

My husband passed away in 1991 leaving me to care for our seven children all alone. Very soon after my husband passed away, my husband’s brother and  then his wife also passed away. They had nine children that I became responsible for in addition to my seven biological children.

Life became a real struggle as over the next twenty years because I was responsible for all sixteen children.

But then things improved when eight months ago – with all of the children that I had raised now adults themselves – I became the senior house mother at Village of Hope Chongwe.

How has working at Village of Hope impacted you?

Although my life before arriving at the Village of Hope was very difficult, I find that I am now at peace; I love the children at VOH and I am happy!

Two weeks ago, one of my nephews that I raised passed away at the age of twenty-two. This was very difficult for me and yet although I was very sad at his passing, being at Village of Hope with the fellowship and support that is there, has helped me cope with his loss.

I am very thankful and happy to be a mother!

 

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Happy Mother’s Day!

 

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