Visiting Namumu Orphanage Center
by Frank Dimmock
Day two in Siavonga, on the edge of Lake Kariba. The vulnerability of children and families in the Siavonga district of southern Zambia is obvious and has been affirmed by our visits with children at the Namumu Orphanage Center and by others we have met during the last two days. Today we began by meeting with the government District Commissioner, together with the Namumu director and board chairman. We expressed appreciation for the support that the District has promised to the Namumu orphanage and their concern for the well-being of the children.
This meeting was followed by a visit to the local fishing boats on the shore of the lake. In planning for financial sustainability of Namumu, the decision was made to launch a fishing business on the lake. The Outreach Foundation and other supporters assisted in the purchase of four fishing boats for Namumu. In recent years, the fishing industry has struggled for various reasons, and Namumu is no longer earning a profit from the business. In an effort to learn more, we made a follow-up visit with Mr. Nasilele Walueita from the district fisheries department. We learned that the fish population is being rapidly depleted due to uncontrolled fishing, lower water levels and a reduction in breeding due to climate change. Maintenance and management of the Namumu boats has also been a challenge. Mr. Walueita explained how the government is embarking on a new program of fish farming in ponds and controlled areas (cages and nurseries). He encouraged Namumu management to seek government assistance and advice to develop fish ponds for income generation.
In addition to developing fish ponds for the production of fish, additional ideas such as expanding vegetable gardens and planting trees were discussed for the sustainability of Namumu's ministry to vulnerable children and their families. Placement of some of the 26 children with families and in boarding schools will continue during the next five years. Access to quality education will remain a high priority at Namumu. In that regard, we were able to review the grade reports of the primary school children from the recent term. Their performance has been impressive. The four Namumu students in grade seven were among the top five in their class of 38 pupils. High grades are essential for them to qualify for the next level in their schooling.
We next had the opportunity to visit the Siavonga government secondary school and meet the headmaster, Mr. Shandelea, and his deputy, Mr. Michelo. One of the current Namumu girls is in grade 10 there. 560 of the 1,144 students from grades 8–12 in the school are boarding. Placing more Namumu children in boarding secondary school is an important goal.
Ebralie and I had an opportunity to meet several former Namumu children who are now working or continuing their education. We also met with Rev. Charles Ngoma, Namumu board treasurer and pastor from the Reformed Church. Rev. Ngoma is the coordinator of a fellowship of more than 15 Christian pastors from the district. The fellowship meets regularly to discuss community issues and challenges and to advocate for change. Having local community connections and assistance is essential for supporting vulnerable children and families.
Tomorrow we will leave Siavonga and return to Lusaka for meetings with the coordinators of CCAP community schools and the HIV and AIDS programs. We are encouraged by the efforts of Outreach partners to care for the most vulnerable in their midst.
Africa Mission Specialist