Duncan here on behalf of the Tehila Team in Zambia! I am a former police officer from the UK and been living in Lusaka with my wife Anna and two boys for nine months. During this time both Anna and I have been volunteering for Tehila. Anna has since embarked on following her passion to work with pre school children, whilst I have increasingly become more involved in the work of Tehila.
We just want to update you on what we are up to over here in Zambia as Hannah begins her recovery from surgery and Sam and the girls adjust to life back in the UK.
Yesterday we began another Safe Places training in Lusaka. The team have been meeting together to plan over the last week and over the next three days Martin, Obet, Muchindu and I will be joined in Garden Compound by more than 30 participants, representing 10 churches across the area for 3 days of training.
Garden compound is a very materially poor, highly populated area in Lusaka. Areas or slums such as Garden accommodate up to 70% of Zambia’s urban dwellers, out of which 40% are women and children. These vibrant communities often have a beautiful sense of community and walking through the dusty sand roads, one witnesses wonderful sights and smells of local life. Lots of smiles, children playing, women selling second hand clothing, meat, fish, vegetables and tomatoes. Tailors sitting in the shade of the tree sewing on their machines, men chatting and playing local draught games with bottle tops, uplifting music, open hair salons and barber shops, yellow and white buckets at the water pumps, colored chitenge materials hanging in the markets. A bustling, busy community.
Yet life in these areas can be tough. These unplanned settlements are usually characterized by inadequate or poor water and sanitation facilities, limited or no infrastructure, poor housing and overcrowding. And these issues pose potential risks to children.
Ramshackle housing and overcrowding is vulnerable to disease and disaster. House fires are not uncommon. Children are playing in and amongst randomly strewn bars selling locally brewed beer. Drunk adults are not an uncommon sight. Charcoal burners are alight near small children. Many children wonder alone appearing to be unsupervised. Ten or more families cohabiting a single living area and sharing one pit latrine. Children involved in money making activities, lacking access to good education and health services. Crime and violence is prevalent and the effects worsened since law enforcement agencies are either absent or feared rather than seen as somewhere to go for help. Children have very little voice and largely unheard in a community striving to survive, to meet its basic needs. Child abuse will thrive in such a climate unless action is taken.
As in every community we work, there are always committed community members such as church leaders, Sunday school teachers and others who are committed to fight for the plight of the vulnerable, to create safer places for children. Over the next three days we will be with thirty of these people, working together to understand, recognise and develop an effective action plan to respond to child abuse in the churches and wider community in Garden. This will be the second time Tehila will have worked alongside the Pastors Fellowship in Lusaka and emphasises our passion to work in partnership with others to help see an end to child cruelty in Zambia.
We have completed day two today and the group we are training are great. We are enjoying ourselves and look forward to telling you all about it after the training.
Duncan and the rest of the team