Zambia: Smeda Helping Street Kids

Zambia: Smeda Helping Street Kids
The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

March 27, 2007
Posted to the web March 27, 2007

John Sakala

A YOUNG girlin standard five at the age of 12 at Lubwa mission boarding School in Chinsali surprised many people.

One day a Malawian mother comes to Chinsali with her two children, but unfortunately, she dies leaving her two children with no one to care for them.

Moreover, they are still young and in a foreign land.

The situation is despairing.

Who would care for these children?

Everyone was shunning them.

Then a 12 year-old school girl in boarding school volunteers to keep them in her room. The challenges of boarding life does not overshadow her large heartednessbecause she is willing to share her little means of living with the newly-adopted children.

This girl, now woman, is 60 yearstoday.

She keeps, teaches and feeds 26 vulnerable children at her home.

Her name is Smeda Kaira Gondwe.

Mrs Gondwe is the founder of Wilson ‘s Orphans and Street Kids Centre (WOSKC) located in Chingola’s Riverside township.

Smeda, as she prefers to be addressed,in her teenage experience of keeping the vulnerable went with the passage of time.

However, her childhood experience came to be a reality whenher son Wilson, died. Wilson, who the orphanage is named after, went for studies in the United Kingdom and later got a job.

Unfortunately he died and left two of his children without a mother or any relative to care for them.

The news was disheartening to the mother of Wilson back home in Zambia and after recieving the sad news, immediately she made travelling arrangements.

She was shocked upon arrival in UK on how the children were cared for.

Her childhood experience was immediately revived.

Smeda with her husbandwere told to leave their progenybehind because the UK government had pledged to take care of them.

This marked the beginning of teenhood experience.The couple was moved into thinking of how to help the vulnerable.

Smeda said that she had a noble call that she never realised until it got porked by unforeseen occurrences.

"I now keep 26 street Kids and vulnerable children in my home. We have a community school; we provide food and many other basics.These children lackparental love, care and security because a family is a necessity of everyone. And it requires sacrifice but if you have a passion for the children you derive more in learning their behavior and the desire to make them better citizens.

"When I was keeping those two children in 1953 at Lubwa Mission, I never knew someone will keep my children in a foreign land like UK. The Bible says ‘do to others the way you want them to do to you.’" Smeda recalled.

She said helping the street kids and vulnerable children was a noble course that required commitment.

"The Apostle James in 2:27 said: "the form of worship that is clean and pure from God’s stand point is to look after orphans and widows in their trouble. Therefore it is one with the heart of contribution towards the well-being of the children that always help," Smeda said.

Chingola district HIV/AIDS coordinator, Margret Mwamba,saidit needed someone with a largerheart to accommodate street kids and vulnerable children who were looming on the street.

Mrs Mwamba said that thekeeping of street kids and vulnerable children did not require someone to be materially or financially sound but having passion for the children and willingness to help them.

Mrs Mwamba, who is also a volunteer for UNICEF saidthe Government and donors help those organisations that had done 25 per cent in materially or monetary form.

She thanked Rodwell Gondwe and his wife Smeda Kaira Gondwe for turning their home into an orphanage centre, that houses school, provideshelter and other basic needs. She said the Gondwe family started to run the orphanage with their own resources for a long time before South Africa AIDS Trust (SAT)came in as a donor.

Mrs Mwamba said the larger heart of Smeda when she was younger at a boarding school was like sowing good works that God saw it fit for hergrand children to reap.

WOSKC isa community-based organisation that primarily seekways to help children affected by AIDS.

Since its inception 2002,WOSKChas been aiming at helping the Government in removing street kids and vulnerable children from the street and house them in conducive places to help them become better citizens.

What could be thechallenges the organisation is facing?The problems can range from financial to emotional needs.

Mr Gondwe, WOSKC director, said it was not easy meet teachers demand and most of the times teachers had to copy with very little salaries as compared to their input.

Hesaid the teachers and the board members who were working with him did not receive any money for their dedication and commitment.

The teachers were doing it because it was a noble course that they felt they should do.

Apart from the children that havehoused, we still have many that are not sheltered.

These too lack food, clothing and good nutrition which retards their growth and does affect their performance in class.

Such children come in class with divided minds making the work of a teacher so challenging.

He said emotional support was cardinal for mission of a teacher to be accomplished, as some of the children were slow learners who needed individualised training to abreast the lesson.

As many NGOs are busy searching for the donor, others with pure motive and committment are mapping a way showing them that leads to solution to the vulnerable children.

The words thatdeserve to sink to our hearts as we simply pass a glance at the orphans and vulnerable children are’You will reap what you sow because if you sow sparingly you will also reap sparingly and if you sow bountifully you also reap bountifully’.

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