Coincidence: Meeting Mrs. Makombe (a special woman) in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. Her story: – “Ten years ago, recently widowed, I took in an orphan to care for. As Aids creates more and more orphans more and more came in. Now after 10 years, 11 children live with me. I live in Kawambwa, 1.000 km up north from here (Lusaka). I’m getting too old and too poor for this heavy task. Several times I’ve asked the Sisters in Kawambwa to take over the children, but their answers stay: ‘No, we don’t have the money either’. What’s going to happen to the children if I’m not here anymore?“ My (impossible) answer: “If we’re ever in the neighborhood of Kawambwa, we’ll visit you.” Mrs. Makombe was a special lady, but who’s going to travel 1.000 km to visit a stranger?!
But indeed, 3 years later, spring ’05, we happened to be planning a camping-tour through the north of Zambia. “We could visit Kawambwa as well…”, arose a thought. “Would that special lady still be alive?” Phone numbers, we swapped in ’02, didn’t work anymore. Google’s miracle: we found an email address of a blind-school in Kawambwa. Our question: ‘Might it be possible that you know a lady called Mrs. Makombe having a small orphanage? If so, could we visit her?’ REPLY (!): “ Mrs. Makombe lives 500 meter from here. We know her very well. She and the children are looking forward to your visit.”, was signed, Sr. Maria.
Mrs. Makombe danced of joy! We could see that the last 3,5 years had been very tough for her.
The holes in the thatched roofs showed the blue sky (just before rainy season). The eleven rather shy children or shared one matrass or had a piece of plastic on the dirtfloor to sleep on. Too few blankets. Drinking water had to be fetched every day and muddy water for the laundry came from a water pit at home. Jennifer (mother of daughter Joyce) had to do all the work (7 days a week). Her ‘salary’ was a place to sleep and getting some food for her and her daughter. She was like a mother for all the children. Some of the children were allowed to come to school (for free).
In short: we could understand why Mrs. Makombe had asked us for help in 2002 .
Shortly after our beautiful trip through the north of Zambia and the very impressive visit at Mrs. Makombe in Kawambwa, someone told me that Windesheim College had a “kind of relation” with Zambia. Curiously I called Windesheim and asked what was the meaning of this “kind of relation” and professor Peter Lindhoud answered: “ At this moment five students (construction department) are designing, drawing and collecting money for the construction of a kitchen and two diningrooms for a blind school in KAWAMBWA…”
“IMPOSSIBLE, IMPOSSIBLE! I’ve just come home from there! A small town in the middle of nowhere!” and suddenly myself say: “Could you also do something for a small orphanage?”. Peter Lindhoud’s answer I’ll nèver forget: “Nothing is impossible with us!”
These words made me call the Sisters in Zambia: “Imagine we could start a foundation in The Netherlands for collecting money for running costs first (without money for running costs, construction wouldn’t make any sense) and secondly money for a construction, would you be able and willing to take over Mrs. Makombe’s children and run an orphanage?”
The answer: “This would be a dream of years coming true!”
After these words this happened in 2006/2007:
The Dutch Kacema Musuma Foundation was erected with one aim in the first place: finding people willing to support money for running costs over a longer period.
- Mrs. Legien Kromkamp offered her help in finding enough people. But first she travelled to Kawambwa to see Mrs. Makombe’s situation and the Sisters herself. Fantàstic! Once back in Netherlands, she has achieved in finding the people willing to support enough money for the running costs.
The next step could be done: looking for money for the construction of a sustainable house suitable for 45 children in the future, starting with 11 from Mrs. Makombe.
- The Kacema Foundation opened a bank account at Rabobank in The Netherlands.
Also we opened a bank account at the only bank in Kawambwa, the Zanaco Bank.
One year later our Dutch Rabobank would buy 49% of the Zambian Zanacobank!
Sometimes all these coincidenses gave us the feeling: “Is this still normal????”
- In Zwolle a new group of students of Windesheim College started designing, drawing, etc. for the New Kacema Musuma Children’s Home. In the same time the first group of students had started their real construction work for the blind school in Kawambwa with constructor Wesley Chishimba, which got s BIG success! That’s why Wesley has also been chosen for the constructions of Kacema Musuma, which he did very well also wit partial assistance from the second group of students.
- The Congregation Sisters of the Child Jesus bought 10 hectares of land in Kawambwa. This way they could be fully responsible for their own way of working with Kacema Musuma Children’s Home to come.
Coincidence??: Sr. Maria (yes, the Sr. Maria of the very first email!) was appointed to be Sister in Charge.
- Also Sr. Maria opened a bank account at the Zanaco bank in Kawambwa for the Kacema Musuma Children’s Home.
- Out of respect for Mrs. Makombe the name Kacema Musuma (Good Sherperd) is continued.
- A big audience was aware of the whole opening ceremony. New KACEMA MUSUMA Children’s Home was blessed and opened by the Bishop and later that afternoon Mrs. Makombe handed over ‘her’ children to the Sisters officially, like we did with the construction.
It was in time:
Half a year later Mrs. Makombe moved to Lusaka to live with her daughter who looked after her till she died in Lusaka in August 2011. Sr. Maria and two of the children who had lived with Mrs. Makombe travelled 1.000 km to be present at Mrs. Makombe’s funeral.
You can click Home if you like to know how New Kacema Musuma is doing in 2013.
Fantastic that you’ve come all the way down here, reading this History page! Thank you.
Conny Snoep – Secretary KACEMA MUSUMA Foundation Netherlands.