I’ve been fortunate to have spent some time recently in Africa, with a week in Zambia and a week in Ethiopia. Here’s part one with an update on our work in Zambia.
As CEO, part of my role is to help support and secure funding for projects in the communities we work. There is no substitute for going to meet with our community partners and understand the need and context for such projects in person – and really get a sense of the very real and positive impact our work has in these countries.
I travelled to Zambia with Nikki McCullagh, one of our Major Investors who has been the key supporter in our Zambian outreach through the Patter Foundation. There we met Rowlands Kaotcha, Vice-President for The Hunger Project’s Africa operations and our local team. While we were there, we had a progress update on the Epicentre build. While there have definitely been some challenges, it was great to see that the project is to be delivered later this year. We spent some time in Chipata and met with the local government official – an incredibly smart, powerful and articulate woman who said, “educate a woman and feed a nation.” That has really stuck with me and reaffirms the approach we have taken in working with women and girls. We then travelled to Vubwe, an epic drive on a road that has been made more degraded by the recent rains that broke the terrible drought Zambia had been in for the past few years.
One of the highlights was the full day of community visits which is a chance to meet and connect with leadership from the Epicentre Committee and spend time with community members. We visited multiple villages, and I was thankful to be invited into people’s homes and hear how The Hunger Project has transformed their thinking and their quality of life. We were privileged to be able to join a community savings meeting at Musiya village which is approximately 20 minutes by car from the Epicentre and close to the border of Malawi. It’s a simple and powerful process and allows the community to borrow funds and invest them in entrepreneurial activities that lead to being able to better provide for their families. They also have a separate fund that they all contribute to for area of need for the wider community. Amazingly, because of the proximity to the border, they manage their accounts in both Malawian & Zambian Kwotcha!
I loved meeting the head nurse, who is now living in the purpose-built nurses’ quarters. The clinic still has a way to go but it was a promising start. We met with some solar power providers so that the Epicentre doesn’t need to rely on connecting to the grid and also supported the recruitment for the field officer role. The very capable Emmanuel has started and is already doing a fantastic job.
I feel so fortunate to be able to see the programs in action and observe the incredible work that the community leadership and individuals are putting in.