Stories of Transformation in Zambia
This is the story of Michael Kalenga, a student at Hope Community School who receives education, nutrition, medical care and emotional support through the Spark-Hope partnership. His story was taken by Brady & Liz Josephson during the June 2010 Transformation Trip.
Michael Kalenga is thirteen years old. Or thereabout at least. The truth is he is not sure when he was born. To most, it would seem an easy question to ask and answer, but when a family has beendecimated by AIDS, there remain few easy questions and even fewer answers.
Thus, Michael’s story is one of uncertainty, of painful surprises and unexpected challenges from the very beginning. When he was still an infant, Michael’s mother died from AIDS, leaving him to live with his father, who later remarried and had two more children before his second wife also succumbed to AIDS. The family managed to struggle onward, though, and Michael was able to enroll in Mwabombeni Basic School, a well-regarded government school near his home in Twapia. He was finally able to enjoy the simple pleasures of childhood until uncertainty returned a few years ago, and Michael’s father died from AIDS, leaving no one in his small family to care for him, no one to remind him when he was born.
Moving in with his elderly grandparents, Michael could only dream of returning to school because despite his grandparents’ best efforts, his family could not afford even the $20 per year for tuition to Mwabombeni. Phillip Chunga, Michael’s grandfather had worked for years at Apollo Construction Company, and his lifetime of hard work earned him a pension that was only almost enough to cover the family’s basic needs. Michael’s grandmother, Harriet, still spends long, hot days in the local markets making a drink called munkoyo to help provide food, water and shelter to their grandson, the only family they have left now that all of their own children have passed away from AIDS.
As had happened so many times before in his short lifetime, Michael again saw his family take a turn for the worse when Apollo Construction Company could no longer pay for his grandfather’s pension, and the family was left on its own, two elderly grandparents who had seen a lifetime of work and one young child who had seen a lifetime of suffering. The family now has trouble earning enough money for food, much less the education Michael needs to break free from the poverty that has enveloped his family for so long.
Two years after he was forced to leave Mwabombeni, though, Michael happened upon Hope Community School where he has since been able to receive a free, quality education from a caring staff that is devoted to the children it serves. With his enrollment in Hope came what he had long been seeking: certainty. Michael is now certain that he will receive hot, nutritious meals year round. He is certain that he will get medical check-ups twice a year. And he is certain that he will receive comprehensive HIV/AIDS education that will help him escape the grasp of a disease that has claimed so many in his family.
So while his family continues to struggle to meet its most basic needs, Michael walks every morning to school with his best friend, Levi, and dares to dream about a life of certainty.
You can help support Michael in a variety of ways. See our Make an Investment page for more information. If you’re interested making a first-hand impact on Michael and children like him, travel with us to Zambia during our next Partnership Trip!