SSVP in Zambia: example of an active country and a successful twinnage experience
Zambia, a country in southern Africa, is one of the most dynamic member countries in the region. The SSVP was founded there in 1963, with the first conference established by a French missionary in Fort Rosebery, (now Mansa, in the province of Luapula). The Society is actively growing in Zambia, with many new conferences aggregated and new local Councils formed every year. The President of the National Council is Christopher Chandra. Last July, SSVP Zambia held its Annual General Assembly, at which the Society’s report on its work during the year was presented.
With increasing levels of poverty every year, the Zambian volunteers try to respond to need by setting up income-generating projects to raise funds. So the National Council produces calendars which are then sold, they also arrange dinner dances. The profits from these activities are invested in the Society’s projects. Some but not all local Councils manage to organise fund-raising events themselves, so National Council is often asked to support those who would like to do this.
Another initiative combines 2 objectives: spreading the news of the Rule among the Society’s volunteers more widely, and creating a source of income. So the National Council had the idea of having this document translated into Bemba, the language spoken and understood throughout the country. This Bemba Rules Book is presently being revised before printing, and it will make the Rule available to non-English speakers, with its sale contributing a source of funds.
In terms of services, visiting is very important: visiting at home, in hospitals and in prisons. Urgently needed items such as food and cleaning materials can be distributed on these occasions. Visits are also an opportunity for sharing a time for prayer and reflection on Scripture.
Students are an important group whom the Society helps. The aim is to support those most in need so that they do not give up attending school during the year through lack of resources. Grants are therefore distributed to around a thousand young people, with priority given to orphaned children who have no family support.
Zambia SSVP also manages the Mufulira residence also known as “the home for the elderly”. This residential home provides accommodation and personal care for elderly people. A 9th house is under construction. The project also includes building a kitchen and dining room where the residents can take their meals.
An enriching twinnage experience with Ireland
Zambia has been twinned for many years with the Eastern Council of Ireland (formerly the Dublin Regional Council). Through much correspondence and shared visits, this link has grown stronger over the years leading to a fruitful partnership. The Irish volunteers, who have been closely involved in providing long-term material and financial help with many projects such as student grants, distribution of mosquito nets and chlorine (editor’s note: anti-bacterial disinfectant), help for community schools, buying household goods for visits, etc.
It is also thanks to this help and to the wise advice of its Irish twin that the National Board has invested in training for its members and leaders (Councils and Conferences). The volunteers from both countries share not just financial support but also a spiritual union and deep friendship.
As Liam Casey (President of the Eastern Region Council) says, quoting Frédéric Ozanam: “there is need to feel remembered, by others, to tell ourselves that we are not alone. There is need of support, of comfort of prayers… friendship is precious.”