Compassion. Adventure. Purpose. Gratitude. Empowerment. Perseverance. Laughter

These are some of the words that come to mind as I prepare for my upcoming Habitat for Humanity trip to Zambia in September! This is my fourth humanitarian mission with Habitat for Humanity and the second in Central/South Africa.
After having volunteered in Africa a few years ago, I was keen on heading back to a place where I left a piece of my heart. I’m both grateful as well as excited to be assisting in the building and completion of homes for two vulnerable families.

Here are some of the most interesting and unique things about Zambia:

  • Zambia was formerly known as Northern Rhodesia and gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1964. Its separation was bloodless .
  • Zambia is a landlocked country located in the Central/Southern African continent and is bordered by the DRC, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Angola.
  • Zambia has a population of over 15 million with life expectancy at 52.5 years.
  • The capital city of Zambia is Lusaka, located in the south-central part of the country.
  • Zambia was named one of the world’s fastest economically reformed countries in 2010 by the World Bank. However, its main economic drivers remain mining (3rd largest producer of copper followed by nickel, tin and uranium), agriculture (including vegetables and meat) followed by tourism and clean energy.
  • Zambia has more than 73 ethnic groups, most of which speak Bantu. Almost 90% belong to the 9 main ethnolinguistic groups: Nyanja-Chewa, Bemba, Tonga, Tumbuka, Lunda, Luvale, Kaonde, Nkoya and Lozi.
  • There is also a small yet important Asian population with 13,000 Indians and 80,000 Chinese who call Zambia home .
  • Zambia is dealing with a large influx of refugees and asylum seekers from the DRC, Angola, Zimbabwe and Rwanda. According to the World Refugee Survey, Zambia is ranked in the top 5 countries in the world in accepting refugees per capita. This has put an increased strain on government and social resources.
  • Zambia is officially a Christian nation according to its 1996 constitution. Over 75% are Protestant and 20% are Roman Catholic.
  • Here are some of the challenges that Zambia faces today and into the future:

  • Over 65% of Zambians live in rural areas.
  • 70% of the entire Zambia population lives on less than $2 USD per day. Rural poverty rates stand at nearly 80%.
  • There is widespread poverty and underemployment.
  • Zambia ranked 117th out of 128 countries in the Global Competitiveness Index.
  • The GDP per capita (PPP) is only $3,900 and is ranked 178 out of 230 countries in the entire world.
  • It is estimated that the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate is 12.3% among adults aged 15-49. However, the incidence rate has declined by more than 25% in the past decade indicating that the epidemic is declining.
  • According to Mercers (2010), living in Lusaka costs more than living in Washington DC but the incomes in Zambia are much lower.
  • Here is the unbelievable impact that Habitat for Humanity has made in Zambia:

  • Habitat for Humanity first started in Zambia in 1984. Since then, it’s served more than 4,085 people and hosted over 500 volunteers.
  • Habitat for Humanity Zambia offers 4 main programs: construction of homes for vulnerable families/orphans, water and sanitation, advocacy and awareness raising as well as microloans (just started).
  • Zambia has a current urban housing deficit around 1.3 million housing units, projected to reach over 3 million housing units by 2025.
  • Due to a lack of affordable housing, about 70% of urban dwellers live in slums with inadequate access to water, sanitation and extension facilities.
  • Most families live in mud homes with wattle and grass thatched roofs. Cracked and broken walls invite rain and rodents into their homes, which in turn pose a serious health risk.
  • Families are crowded into a single room, which also serves as a kitchen. These poor living conditions feed a cycle of poverty that continues to disempower vulnerable populations.
  • In 2003, over 400 people from 13 countries united to build 20 homes with former First President Dr. Kenneth D. Kaunda.
  • The average Habitat house size is 35 square metres (or 300 square feet) and are built using cinder blocks and corrugated iron roofing sheets. The homes are simple but high quality, with separate sleeping, cooking and living areas.
  • This volunteer trip is about building homes for two families in the Kabwe area

I’m ready for another adventure of a lifetime. The life lessons I’ll take with me include: live with passion and live with purpose. I’m leaving on a jet plane …

We’re continuing to build our momentum in making a positive change and difference in this world. These trips allow GIVEGROWGO to experience extreme poverty first-hand and more importantly, to witness the incredible human spirit that lives and flourishes even in these harsh realities. If you are passionate about philanthropy, travel, children, life purpose, volunteering and off-the-beaten-path experiences, GIVEGROWGO is looking for you!