(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries at their community in Kazembe, a town in the Luapula Province of Zambia, operate a Distance Adoption program where donors help sponsor children to go to school. Missionaries have been working with poor youth and their families since 1982. Many families living in the forest area have no money for food and are unable to pay the monthly fees or buy uniforms for their children to go to school. For some children, attending a Salesian school is the first time they use a color pencil, or paint or play with a ball.
Thanks to donors these children now have the opportunity to learn to read and write, to get to know their country, to learn English and gain the skills to later find and retain livable wage employment while giving back to their communities. The needs in the community are many but Salesian missionaries are doing all they can to assist the poorest and to ensure that they do not waste the opportunities they receive.
Josephine, who recently completed seventh grade at the local Salesian school and accesses services at the Salesian oratory in Kazembe, is an example of a child helped through this Distance Adoption program. She lives with her parents and three sisters and three brothers but Father Slawomir, who operates the program, recently found out she had been sold by her parents to a 34 year old man for $30. Josephine went on her own to the police station where she was reunited with Salesian staff who took her home. The parents asked for forgiveness and broke the contract with the man.
One of the reasons parents sell their children is because they live in extreme poverty and feel like have little choice. With the support of the Distance Adoption program, Josephine now has the ability to continue school. Although she lives close to an hour away from the Salesian House and must walk to and from school, she always arrives eager and ready to learn. Fr Slawomir feels very grateful for the benefactors who support this program.
“Thanks to our donors, Salesian missionaries can help these children who might not otherwise be able to attend school,” says Fr Slawomir. “My greatest joy is to see the children walking along in their white shirts and going to school, all thanks to the Distance Adoption program. I also see hope in the eyes of their parents.”
Poverty is widespread in Zambia with 64 percent of the total population living below the poverty line. For those living in rural areas, the poverty rate rises to 80 percent, according to UNICEF. Over the past three decades, incomes in Zambia have fallen steadily and people do not have enough money to meet basic needs such as shelter, nutritious food and medical care.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has taken its toll on Zambia’s children. More than 20,000 households in the country are headed by children whose parents have died because of HIV/AIDS. Many of these young children are desperate for adult support.
UNICEF – Zambia