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What a day!

Updated: Mar 12

Last week I traveled to Zambia to visit my friends at the Mama Bakhita, get a first hand look at Zambezi Farm, and see how our donations are being used.

I arrived just in time for International Women’s Day, always a popular holiday here in Livingstone. Women from many different groups and organizations get dressed up in beautiful clothes, and march in a parade. The Mama Bakhita/Zambezi Farm women were so excited, singing and dancing, laughing and joking. They had put a great deal of work into their bright pink costumes, and arranged a big barbecue to be held after the parade. 

Most impressive was the sight of thousands of marchers parading on the field, like a giant ribbon. All types of organizations and all walks of life were represented, from Livingstone farm workers, to mothers of children with disabilities, to a third grade class marching with their teacher. Each group wore their own brilliant colors, and held high their banners announcing their group and the theme of the celebration: “Invest in women and girls: Accelerate progress”. See video below!

This year’s celebration was special, because the president of Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema, would be speaking. The air was charged with exuberant hope.

HH, as the President is affectionately called, greets the people

This new president is an anomaly in Zambian politics. From humble beginnings, he is a straightforward guy fighting corruption and creating jobs and financial equity for men and women alike. He has made public primary and secondary education free for everyone, which has not been the case for 20 years. This change alone has had a liberating effect. Before Hichilema, the government did not support public schools; this was a recipe for economic and social disaster. Many children could not attend school consistently and lacked basic skills because their families, living on just a few dollars a day, could not afford the $60 per semester school fee.

Three other speakers were Zambian women with high government positions: Zambia’s Vice President, Vice Chairperson of the Zambian Human Rights Commission, and NGOCC Board Chairperson. All three were very clear about how far Zambia had to go to achieve equal rights for women.

Halfway through the speeches, there were incredible dance performances from every province in the country, including one performance by an entire village! All together about 6,000 people participated in the parade.

Zambia's present is energized, and the future looks promising.

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