For most of us, the thought of living life bound to a wheelchair or requiring crutches, canes or walkers may seem like a misfortune we hope, wish and pray to avoid. For others, like the children of the Zimba Community Forest, these mobility agents are nothing short of a blessing.
The Zimba Community Forest lies within the district of Zimba, a market town in southern Zambia. This southern African country has one of the world’s fastest growing populations and bears some devastating statistics. The HIV epidemic prevalence rate is 12.3% among adults (it’s 0.8% in the US), while 45% of children under 5 are stunted, meaning they have a reduced growth rate mostly due to malnutrition and recurrent infections. Around 60% of the population lives below the poverty level. That number rises to 78% in rural areas like Zimba. Most rural Zambians are subsistence farmers, growing enough only for themselves and their families with no surplus to sell.
WFCF has once again partnered with the African Community Project (ACP), which has helped us to identify this group of children in the Zimba Community Forest desperately in need of help. These children who suffer from physical impairments are rendered unable to move on their own. Without mobility devices, they are left to crawl, hobble or be carried around.
WFCF recently provided ACP a sum of $1,490 toward purchase of five wheelchairs and eight sets of assorted crutches for the children of Zimba Community Forest. Miles Sinakacha, who received a set of crutches, said, “Our situation is very pathetic. May God bless you all for restoring our integrity through this gesture.” As appreciated as these materials were, they were, unfortunately, distributed based on assessment of the “neediest” recipients, leaving many to still suffer with their impairments.
On the upside, WFCF has collaborated with ACP in the past, funding projects to provide beds, blankets, wheelchairs and crutches for students living at the Chibolya Community School. The tie that these two communities share through ACP allows them to share outgrown crutches and wheelchairs.
This equipment has given the children of Zimba Community Forest increased mobility and quality of life. WFCF is proud to have been a part of this project.
About our Partner: ACP is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating community forests, reforestation and practicing social forestry, particularly in Zambia. Social forestry refers to providing of clean and safe drinking water, community well-being, education, and safety for all. This also means the inclusion of mentally and physically challenged children as part of the community which is generally not a common practice in this part of the world. Garry Brooks, founder of ACP, has devoted his retirement to providing education, tools and resources to the people of Zambia, in hope of creating self-sustaining communities. “Humans are only as strong as our weakest link,” states Mr. Brooks. “We owe it to ourselves and to each other to reach out a hand to those behind us.”