We shipped 200 bars of soap to Zambia in March of 2013 and just recently heard back from the missionary who received them. She wrote an amazing article talking about the impact that soap had on some of the local girls in the community they work with and sent a few photos with more on the way!
Dora Nyambe: Leaving Footprints of Hope, Zambia
Imagine being a 10 year old African girl, living in a village called Four Miles. You can’t recite the alphabet by yourself because you haven’t had time for school in years. Imagine that your mother is the village “beer lady”. Your home is a dirty room used to process and sell cheap beer. To top it all off, imagine being a bar waitress at a filthy pub- at only 10 years old.
This is the life of an amazing little girl named Gift. She is the oldest in her family, and according to Zambian custom, from the age of 6 she became the caregiver for her younger siblings and the one responsible for most of the housework.
Gift starts her day at 4:30, waking early to get the fire going under the beer drams. She then walks over a mile to draw water from the nearest stream. She doesn’t consider if the water is clean or not. She is usually back in time to meet her mother’s first customer for beer. Throughout the day she will clean the yard, wash the beer containers, clean the house, change diapers, and take the clothes to the stream to wash them. Every day begins with this routine of hot, tiring, dirty work.
She will be home in time for the day’s meal, but she will have to wait for her share. It is said in Zambia that, “A girl will eat when everyone else has had enough.” The result is that many hard working little girls like Gift eat very little for their labors. Her family can afford only one meal a day, but they supplemented by drinking beer. Children in villages begin drinking beer as early as two years of age to stave of the feelings of hunger.
At the end of the day, exhausted and dirty, Gift will collapse into bed. She hasn’t considered brushing her teeth, washing her body, or any of the other things that would give her a better chance at surviving her environment. She doesn’t know any better.
Gift isn’t alone. There are hundreds of girls in similar situations just in that one village. They need an education; they need love; they need a fighting chance.
A few months ago Gift and her siblings were given a new opportunity- Hope Club. We created this program to give the kids of Four Miles an opportunity to receive some basic education, training, discipleship, and most of all… HOPE. We meet every Saturday morning; most families wouldn’t be able to spare their kids more often than that. We do not charge them anything or take attendance. If they can make it, we welcome them warmly.
At Hope Club we teach Bible, math, geography, English, and basic hygiene. We started with a few kids in the backyard. That quickly increased to 30 and from there to over 200 kids. For many of these children, it is the only form of education they will ever receive.
Gift is one of the kids who comes faithfully to Hope Club, and she has shown so much interest in learning. A few weeks ago I was blessed to receive a box full of Soapbox soaps. The following Saturday, over 200 children received education in body hygiene, and they each received their very own bar of soap. The kids were so excited! They went home with a new understanding of hygiene and a new bar of soap to put their skills into practice. I can personally tell you that a change in the body maintenance of the kids is visible thanks to SoapBox! But aside from that, these kids now have an understanding that a clean body is a healthy body. To many people, it’s just one little bar of soap, but to them it’s a means to a cleaner, healthier future.
Together we started to change the future of over 200 kids. Imagine how many lives they will then reach out and touch? With God’s grace, we can make a permanent impact on the people of Four miles and ultimately on the entire nation of Zambia.