I am someone who has been newly awakened to the realities the extreme poor are facing around the world. As a result, I looked forward to visiting our staff in Samfya, Zambia. Truly, what I learned there was only a taste of what was to come in the days that followed.
The Zambian Lifestyle is a Resourceful One
Though I noticed the majority of the people traveled on foot or by bicycle, I learned they were still considered to be people with means because of the access to resources they had. Women beautifully balanced large water buckets on their heads as they walked down the street. Men on bicycles held large bags of feed over the backs of their bike as they cycled by. What’s more, the majority seemed to have smiles on their faces. I’m told that Zambians are known as a genuinely warm, inviting and positive people.
Samfya sits on the south-western shore of Lake Bangweulu, which means “where the water meets the sky.” As we drove through town, hundreds of smiling faces dotted the roadsides. The beautiful beach offers locals a place to watch as the sun sets below the horizon, when the sky and water become one. Though, one must cautiously approach the shoreline as crocodiles swim in the water. Yikes!
Nestled within the Samfya Bible College grounds is the Bright Hope Zambia headquarters. This humble, one office building offers our Zambia team members a place to meet, plan and dream together about what God can do. But the office also provides storage for bags of feed and an incubator for some of our layer chickens. I felt so proud at how resourceful the people are in Zambia. Nothing went to waste.
Livelihood Programs in Zambia
When we visited in the summer, I witnessed many awe-inspiring microfinance programs Bright Hope has offered. But we couldn’t do it without our collaboration with the Christian Farmers Association, founded by Zambia Country Director, Mark Brubacher.
We exchanged warm greetings as we explored the piggery, chicken coup and butchery across the street from the Bible college. The people were all smiles as worked diligently throughout the property. Surprisingly, the pigs were large and the chickens were plenty. God has clearly blessed the efforts of our Bright Hope Zambia team. In addition, He has given them wisdom to stretch every dollar provided through our incredible Bright Hope allies.
As we toured, I learned that the chickens and pigs form the backbone of Bright Hope’s microfinance program in Zambia. Impoverished families receive chickens or pigs on loan to start a sustainable business. For example, we loan 20 chickens to a family to get them started. Then they pay us back “in kind” 10 chickens after a certain period of time.
Hope-filled Worship in Zambia
Beautiful worship music filled the room as we entered the storefront area of the butchery. Christ centered books from the Bible College lined the back wall and were available for sale. Grinning customers sat outside awaiting their orders. People from the town can come to purchase meat, bacon, pig fat for soap making, and more.
As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t realize that my time in Samfya, Zambia was only a taste of what was to come in the days to follow. It was a glimpse into what was ahead as I learned the realities the extreme poor are facing – realities I hadn’t considered until then. For example, these precious people Bright Hope serves have very limited access to essential resources that I often take for granted. These resources include clean water, seeds to plant crops, livestock, even nutrient-dense soil necessary to effectively grow crops. Truly, these simple resources make a huge impact on life.
As more and more information poured in, I felt like a sponge. I felt hungry to learn more. I was eager to set foot on the ground of the villages we partner with to bring hope and sustainable solutions. Those considered to be the most vulnerable of people, the extreme poor – individuals and families living on less than two dollars a day. I could not wait to begin meeting them face to face and to see the solutions God was bringing to their communities through the programs Bright Hope offers. I rejoiced to meet the local pastors and leaders who have linked arms with one another to be the bridge of hope to the precious ones living among them.
Trust me, you will want to stick with me on this journey through Zambia! We still have three more days of visiting the three villages we serve: Mbabala Island, Kolasa Mukosa, and our newest community, Mabo Kunda.
Learn More About Bright Hope’s Work
Read Part 1 of this series, Hope in Zambia: A Heart Awakened HERE.