In the five years since Sally Angelson visited Zambia, she got married and had a baby daughter who is now 18 months old. Becoming a mum has made her even more determined to help.
Why were you in Zambia?
As Programme Manager I was there to monitor the partnership and the whole Luangwa programme. That means all the activities that are funded by ChildFund New Zealand. I had the honour of commissioning the opening of many completed projects, such as dams, classrooms, and water points. We were also planning the ‘roadmap’ – a 10-year vision which we can work towards, after which Luangwa will be self-sufficient and go forward independently.
What were your expectations?
I was very excited to visit. Prior to this 5-year gap, I had visited many times and worked so closely with the team, so couldn’t wait to go. All I had were the reports on what had been done in that time and I wanted to see it with my own eyes and hear from the community and children about the changes – good and bad.
When you arrived what was the first thing that you noticed?
The drought. It was confronting and devastating. Dead crops. Families houses had empty kralls (goat pens) where the goats once were; many goats had been sold for money. The people were hungry. It is a really tough time – everyone reminded us.
As a mum, how were you affected?
I see kids my daughter’s age and can’t imagine not being able to feed and clothe her, give her the best – as every mother wants to do for their children. I see children her age who are half the size. It is impossible not to compare and feel you want to make sure no mother has to feel that way. I also feel I can break down some barriers of being an outsider by sharing photos and feelings about my daughter.
What are the children like?
Courageous. At one of the community meetings we attended in Luangwa, we asked people what they needed and why. One girl of about 12 stood up and said they needed water so she can spend time at school. She spends hours every day walking for water, and she said that is not right. I admired her courage to do that in front of her community, local government members and the chief. And she is right!
What do children and families need right now?
Food in the short term – maize, beans, nuts, water. We need to get families away from the brink of starvation. Children need food to regain strength and be able to get back to normalcy – like going to school.
What is the biggest challenge?
Water is the biggest challenge without a doubt. Without water, you can’t survive. You can’t grow crops, you can’t cook, wash, or eat and it is a killer. Other challenges are there, but without solving the water crisis first, we can’t achieve the rest.
Programmes in Luangwa are almost entirely funded by New Zealand, so what has Kiwi support achieved in the past few years here?
Education including building preschools, water – access and quality (still more to do here); sanitation, improving livelihoods including putting up an elephant-proof fence around an 850ha area for crop cultivation; and so much more. With all our Kiwi support channelled into one area, we can measure and see the difference we are making.
What do you need from Kiwis now?
Donations! We need to address this immediate crisis with the help of food provision, then move to get families back on track to be able to grow their own food and keep their families food secure and safe. We can’t do that without the help of Kiwis.
You’ll be helping children, parents and whole communities in Luangwa – the worst hit district in Zambia during the worst drought in 35 years.
What is your hope for the future of Luangwa’s children and families?
That together we help to build their resilience towards a future of self-sustainability in which they have the resources and ability to weather the hard times.