The Kanyama Compound in Lusaka, Zambia is a township of nearly 500,000 people. Initially started as a squatter town in a low lying flood plain it has grown into a sprawling community with a mix of fixed structures and temporary housing. While unemployment in Zambia as a whole is around 8% it is 4-5 times higher in the compounds. The flooding has created significant health issues with frequent outbreaks of cholera and other diarrheal illnesses over the years, and crowded living conditions promote diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV. These conditions have left many homes without adults to generate income or provide for basic needs. The majority of the children in the school have come from fragmented families because of the impact of HIV.

Bruce Kaumba, a Pastor in Kanyama, witnessed the growing rates of young children in Kanyama that were roaming the township and not attending school secondary to lack of family funds to provide them with an education. Public school is free in Zambia up to grade 8, but in the townships there is a shortage of schools and the family is still required to pay for uniforms, school supplies, and meals during school hours; costs that are prohibitive for many families. Naomi Sheneberger witnessed these same hardships and together with Bruce Kaumba they acted on the vision of starting a school for these children that are living in extreme poverty as an opportunity to provide them with the knowledge and skills to pursue a better future.

Despite the enormous success of the school the challenges have been many. There was no working toilet, the school was seriously overcrowded with no further room for expansion, there was no play area, and the costs for operating the school continued to increase without a foreseeable solution for sustainability. The school clearly needed a long-term sustainable solution. In 2017, Living Hope Clinical Foundation established a sister NGO in Zambia Living Hope Today Foundation, and through a generous financial gift were able to purchase property in Makeni on the outskirts of Kanyama in July 2017. In July 2018, construction began on Phase One of the new campus and by January 2019 the school opened with 6 classrooms, headmaster’s office, staff lounge, kitchen, counseling room, and proper toilets. Grades 7-9 moved to the new campus, and while there was space for grades 1-6 the distance was too far to walk for the younger students, so the rented home continues to house grades 1-6 until we can purchase a school bus. Between the two campuses the school now provides education and a meal for over 300 children.

The new campus had space for play areas and additional classrooms, and in 2019 friends with a vision to see the school move forward sponsored a fund raiser that enabled the completion of the new playground and the start of Phase Two construction. Recently Living Hope Foundation received a gift to bring us to roof level on Phase Two. Living Hope is now looking for funding to bring the school to completion and enter into the sustainability phase.

Empowering children at Chesed Academy.

The impact on the families has been remarkable. The parents report a measurable difference in their children’s attitude and engagement. In 2016 a feeding scheme was initiated that provides one nutritious meal per class session. The school expanded to 7 teachers and 2 aides who also supports the classroom instruction. Students that could not read or write, are now excelling in their studies and have real hope for a future than will change their families and community.

The Vice-President of Living Hope Clinical Foundation has lived in Zambia for 15 years and manages Living Hope Today Foundation in Zambia. He and his wife, Naomi, are dedicated to seeing the school fulfill the vision of reaching sustainability for the benefit of the children of Kanyama.

The school is now at roof level for the final phase of all construction. The need is for installation of electrical, plumbing, ceiling with lighting, plastering, painting, doors, windows, and the full equipping of rooms with chairs, tables, whiteboard, science and computer equipment, and a school bus to transport younger children. The costs are outlined below, and when all is completed the school can enter into the sustainability phase. Annual operating costs for grades 1-12 will come to approximately $40,000, and with 150 full paying students, the school can support scholarships for 450 students and cover all operating expenses each year.

Current Needs for Phase Two:
  1. Ceiling $6000
  2. Lighting $1500
  3. Electrical circuits and outlets $1500
  4. Plumbing $2000
  5. Plastering $3000
  6. Painting $3000
  7. Windows $5000
  8. Science benches and equipment $2000
  9. Computer lab $2500
  10. Desks, chairs, whiteboards for 6 classrooms and assembly hall $7500
  11. Outside tables and chairs for patio $1000
  12. School Bus $25000