The WOW Women of Zambia
Spark’s partnership in Twapia, Zambia provides nutrition, healthcare, educational programming and jobs to their community. Today, Hope Community School supports the needs of over 450 beneficiaries through primary and secondary education systems, meal services, a healthcare clinic, and a new sewing initiative. Hope also offers many special programs & initiatives to sustainably create change within the community – like Hope House Orphanage, the Hope Community School Farm, and the “Women of Worth” or “WOW” program – created and supported by Jean Janecek (aka Mama JJ) to fulfill the nutritional, healthcare, emotional and social needs of Twapia’s elderly women and to help them age with dignity. Since its inception, this group of community-focused women has been empowered to create their own programming. Their program and goals have increased in size over the past few months, and their outreach impact is growing substantially.
WOW now has three groups within itself: Counselors, Peace Makers, and Entrepreneurs. Within these groups, the WOW women can contribute and support their community in whichever way suits them best. At the monthly meeting, each group shares what they have accomplished. The Counselors continue to mentor children from Hope House Orphanage, who have grown in their relationship with their mentors and continue to confide in them. The Entrepreneurs have focused on making beads and chikanda, a traditional Zambian dish. The Peace Makers extend counseling services to the greater community, promoting peace and harmony.
The women of WOW meet monthly to connect, share testimonies, and outline goals for the upcoming month. Their meetings always start with conversation and friendship- led by Mama Lillian. Mama Lillian typically opens the meeting with a prayer, and often shares a short message with the group to encourage and uplift them. Next, the women receive a hot meal. In their monthly meetings, the members of WOW have various opportunities to receive services from the Hope Clinic; typically in the form of having their blood pressure checked. Dr. Kazadi often checks in with the group along with medical staff from the clinic, and they receive medical advice and prescriptions when needed.
In December, the WOW monthly meeting was busy, full of end of the year celebrations. Charles Mumba, Executive Director of Hope Community School, visited the ladies and shared an encouraging message. Dr. Kazadi also met with the women to do a typical blood pressure check and other medical screenings. The WOW women received gifts, including sugar, soya pieces, mealie meal, cooking oil, and even a photo and poem from Mama JJ and her granddaughter Sara who has traveled to Zambia and met with the ladies! It was a wonderful way to celebrate the end of the year and all the WOW women had accomplished.
The WOW women met at the end of January to share the beginnings of the new year. The women sang and danced before enjoying a hot meal together. As the women had their blood pressure checked, Mama Lillian gave a small talk about personal hygiene and staying healthy. The Entrepreneurial group shared a moving testimony about how they were able to financially support a member of the group who experienced various challenges when her grandson was hospitalized. At the close of the meeting, the women were given food packs to bring home, and encouraged to visit and connect with each other over the course of the coming month.
The WOW women of Twapia have created powerful and positive change by using their gifts and talents to support members of their community and each other. They are continuing to mentor and counsel beneficiaries of Hope House while extending their reach to other people and areas of need in their community. As the WOW group continues to grow and prosper, their community will be all the better for it.