Global Partners for Health has worked with the Lubasi Home for over 5 years. The home continues to be one of the only orphanages in southeast Zambia which provides a high standard of care for these vulnerable children. Located outside of Livingstone, Zambia, Lubasi has 42 children at the present time although it has had up to 60 children within the last year. The majority of these children ranging in age 2 to 17 years are at Lubasi on a permanent basis. Their parents are often deceased due to the AIDS pandemic which has ravaged the country. In a few cases the children are from families who cannot afford to care for them. Many of the children were living on the streets until taken in by the Lubasi Home. The Lubasi Home is an extremely caring environment which does not allow corporal punishment. Education, respect, and responsibility are stressed as the most important values.
Recently, several of the children taken in on a temporary basis are from the Democratic Republic of Congo. These children are typically very young from age 2 to 4. Their mothers have been arrested while trying to cross the Zambian border to escape the violence in the Congo. The needs of these small children are challenging since they are preschool age and do not speak English or the local Zambian dialect. Because of their age and language barrier they are often frightened and confused. There are more Congolese refugees coming into Zambia every day, so this will be an ongoing concern, but one that Lubasi does not feel it can ignore.
The Lubasi Home depends upon private funding. Lubasi receives a large amount of “in kind” donations, for example, clothing, bedding, mosquito nets, etc. from local businesses such as hotels. The challenge is the cost of food, staffing and educational expenses. In Zambia, secondary school (beginning at 9th grade) is not provided by the government. Lubasi funds the secondary children’s tuition. Global Partners for Health is one of the primary sources of funding for these expenses, and the only source from the United States. The Zambian Catholic Church, the Episcopalian Church, an International Rotary group, and the Livingstone business community are the other sources of funding. It is truly a shared effort by various non-profits, community, business and religious organizations.
In addition to the residents of Lubasi, the home also has an outreach program for the children who have been reintegrated with their families. These children require some level of supervision since they are going from the Lubasi Home to an environment where they may not be encouraged to continue in school or allowed study time. For example, because electricity is so expensive in Zambia, if available at all, many of the children’s families do not allow lights to be turned on after dark. Some of the children who have been reintegrated have come back to the Lubasi Home because they cannot read, or study, after school. At Lubasi the children were allowed to use lights as long as they needed for study purposes. It’s frustrating for these children not to be able to continue their education. Once a month, the Lubasi Home has a workshop for these families to educate them about what is required for the children’s well-being. Lubasi plans to start a fund to try and help with the costs of electricity and other school related expenses for these families.
The main challenge for Lubasi is how to help the older children who will be on their own when they are 17 or 18 years. All of the children will eventually face this problem and it is crucial to have some kind of program and support available to encourage education and job skills. Several of the older children are now finishing secondary school and they will need continued encouragement in order to go to college, or to a job training program. This is why Lubasi was founded – to ultimately make the lives of these children better. The children are the future of Zambia.
Lushomo Home – Caring for Young Girls Who Have Suffered Abuse
As an offshoot of the Lubasi Home, Lushomo opened 6 months ago and cares for 14 girls aged 10 to 17 who have suffered abuse from family members or friends of family. The home is a few blocks from Lubasi and shares some of the staff, vehicles, and educational programs. It began when the founders of the Lubasi Home found a huge need for a secure environment for the girls. The home is gated and has 24 hour security for the girls’ protection. During my visit I saw that the environment promotes much needed respect and dignity for such vulnerable young women. For most of these girls, this is the first time they have felt safe and able to pursue their education with a supportive “family” surrounding them. Lushomo has staff members with the girls inside and outside of the facility, even while traveling to and from school. The founders of Lushomo hope to open another home for girls in a nearby village in the next year.
Resources and Additional Information
- The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs
- Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
- Taking Away the Distance, An African AIDS Orphan and his Crusade to Unite Children Orphaned by the AIDS Epidemic by Miles Rosten
- Shake Hands With the Devil: the Failure of Humanity in Rwanda by Romeo Dallaire
Executive Director & Founder