Joseph is 26 years old and lives in Windhoek, Namibia. At the age of 21, he has unexpectedly become the father and mother of his 4 young brothers and 2 sisters, when his most loving mother, Hileni, a school teacher and city councilwoman, the only provider of the family, unexpectedly died from the HIV disease.
Their father, Samuels had died a year before. The youngest child at the time was just less than 4 years old. Fortunately, when Hileni passed away, Joseph has already graduated from high school, and he was planning on going to college, but he could never go, as he had to find a job to support his young brothers and sisters. Joseph has a brother, Fritz, who is 23 years old and is defying the gravity of their hardship by going to college. He wants to go to Santa Monica College in Santa Monica, California, and then transfer to UCLA to complete his degree education, so he can one day find a good paying job to help his brothers and sisters.
And by the time Fritz completes his degree education, Joseph would be in his 30s, but Joseph also plans on going to college as soon as Fritz finishes and gets a job to help take over the family load. However for Fritz to find the money he needs to pay for his tuition and fees at SMC is another dream that needs to come true for him, which is almost impossible, his mother and father have died and they have no relatives who can afford to send them to college. With stringent bureaucracy, who and how can anyone even ask the government to help fund their education?
In Columbus, Ohio, Timothy is 20 years old and a second year student at the Ohio State University majoring in Computer Science Engineering. His mother was gunned down in a drug related accident when Timothy was just three years old. His father has had unfortunately fallen a victim of drugs and alcohol since Timothy was little, so he has never been in any place to help raise Timothy and his young brother.
Luckily, Timothy has an aunt who helped raise him and his young brother. And at the age of 14, Timothy was forced to find a job in Richmond, Virginia, at a local McDonald’s restaurant, but because he was just too young to work, he had to lie on his job application that he was in fact 16 years old. He had to work in order to support himself and his young brother. Timothy calls himself the ‘definition’, the definition of overcoming hardship, struggle, and growing up without any proper supervision and parental love. His favorite word is ‘focus’.
Whenever you talk to Timothy, you would hear that word ‘focus’ lamenting in his tone more than a dozen times. It’s his vocabulary and his reminder to staying focus on what he has always wanted to do, reaching his goal and realizing his potential. He has already defied that by finishing high school no matter what he had faced in his early years of life and by enrolling in college to achieving his dream.
Timothy works more hours each week, more than the hours he needs to study. He has to work in order to pay for his rent and housing expenses, for him and his young brother. However, he’s at least fortunate that he has financial aid and student loans from the U.S. Department of Education to pay for his tuition and fees at the Ohio State University.
Zanelle is a 16 years old from Soweto, South Africa. She has three sisters and one brother. Her father died of AIDS when she was just 12 years old and her mother died of the same disease when she was 14 years old. At 16, Zanelle is the mother and father, provider and bread-winner of her siblings. She dropped out of school in order to work as a brick layer in order to earn money to help and support her brother and sisters.
Her relatives, aunts and uncles have also died of AIDS and the few remaining relatives are also HIV positive. Her 79 years old grandmother is the only one left to help out at home, but what can she really do at her age, except to look after the kids when Zanelle goes to work?
In the rural areas of India, there’s a place well known as Destiny Village, with children, mostly orphanage, some of whom were abandoned by their families. This same Destiny Village has also been setup in Haiti to help house the same type of children. These two houses have been generously setup and sponsored by members of The Potter’s House Church of God in Columbus, Ohio, under the leadership of the anointed, Pastor Tim Oldfield.
Some or all of the children in the Destiny Village housing projects, if it was not for the Potter’s House initiatives to help them by providing them with adequate housing, food, and education, God only knows where these kids would be today, most of them would probably be dead, or staying homeless as they once were prior to the Potter’s House initiatives to help them.
Lundazi is one of the largest Districts in the Eastern part of Zambia, with a total population of 296,560, of which the majority live in the Lundazi rural area, while only a small part of the population lives in the city district.
Most of the population of the Lundazi area is HIV positive for those who are still living, while the majority of the parents have died of HIV and only the grandparents are left to raise and look after the orphanage kids.
When only the grandparents, most of them are in their late 70s and 80s, they cannot really provide the children with the care they need and cannot also help them with their educational work, as what normal parents would do. Because most of the grandparents were born during the colonialism and did not have opportunity to get an education. Thus now, the cycle of illiteracy continuous to repeat itself.
“There are a number of policies that have been put in place and slowly being implemented by the Zambian government, though the challenge is that, most of these policies are really only effective in urban areas and trickle at a snail rate into rural areas” said Zimba.
Among some of the notable policies in place by the Zambian government include:
Education Policy – free education for all at Basic Education. However the challenge is that despite being a policy, school authorities still charge a fee ‘user fee’ for students to pay.
“This money is used for operational costs for the school to cover the deficit they have from their lean budgets. Now, in rural areas, where on earth can a family with almost no income meet these costs? The end solution is that in rural areas, some children, particularly girls are left out from school and are forced into early marriages and so forth” said Mr. Zimba.
Healthcare Policy – free HIV/AIDS drugs to people infected with the disease. Zimba said that this is a wonderful policy to allow people who are HIV positive to have access to life saving drugs.
“The challenge is that most of the rural area clinics are centralized near the urban areas and sick people need to walk by foot almost 120 km (about 75 miles) to access the help they desperately need. There is no reliable transportation, despite the community efforts to put up good feeder roads and in the end; people are just dying in the rural areas” said Mr. Zimba.
“What are the consequences? HIV is increasingly being spread throughout the country and grandmothers are now taking over, looking after their grandchildren as due to the death of their own children” Said Zimba.
Agricultural Policy – a good policy has been put in place relating to marketing of farm produce to allow local farmers to sell their produce through a liberalized system in order to earn a few monies to support their families.
“The challenge is that despite all of these wonderful policies for Agriculture, in rural areas, we are only seeing a few “unscrupulous” traders who come and rip off poor farmers and buy their produce at extremely low prices” states Zimba.
“Our main goal really is to help children and women in these areas of Zambia to have a future and fulfill their dreams. But to do that, we need advocacy on our work so that people who have power and resources can help us meet our objectives. We need to help children to have food on the table, medical, clothes and most importantly, a good health system” cries Zimba.