Chisuma Village

Chisuma Village is an area of approximately 1200 square miles, broken into three districts. The people living there are scattered throughout the area in small clusters of homes. 

No census has been taken. Population estimates vary widely. The village center is estimated to have over two thousand people. The area as a whole may have as many as thirty thousand people. No one can estimate the number of female, single parent households (widowed or unmarried) nor the number of orphans. When asked about this, officials only answer, "a lot."

The village is governed by the Chief and the village Council. They perform all legislative, administrative, law enforcement, and judicial duties for the village. The Sabhuku, secretary of the council, is the record keeper and the landgiver. Pillar of Legacy was granted land for a mission center in 2013, two years after they began to work with the villagers.

The village center has electricity available to some structures. However, the service is intermittent and unreliable. Most villagers have no electricity available. There is no easily accessible, clean water. The entire area is serviced by too few boreholes (wells) and a seep. The seep is located near the village center. It is slow filling. Once the water is depleted, they must wait for the water to seep into it again so they may use it. Animals graze nearby and surface runoff during the rainy season can contaminate the water. The boreholes are a distance away. Some villagers must walk 10-15 kilometers to get water from these sources.

 The village has a small medical clinic. However, it is not staffed. Practitioners from Victoria Falls come irregularly. There are few medical supplies and medicines. One of the largest health problems in the community is HIV/AIDS. The diagnosis of HIV can cause a family to be ostracized, so it is hidden. This hiding, coupled with the social practices of infidelity and prostitution, contribute to the further spread of AIDS. In addition, rainy season brings malaria and other water-borne diseases.

A small elementary school in the village center provides education equivalent to our grades 1- 7. This school has good teachers but materials are in short supply. The school is not free. Parents must pay for their children’s education. Many go to school only long enough to learn to read and write. There is no secondary school in Chisuma. If parents can afford to send their children to secondary school, they must walk several miles to attend, often leaving early in the morning and arriving home late at night.

The people of Chisuma welcomed Pillar of Legacy and have shown an interest in the programs we have initiated. Most want to work and provide for themselves. They are willing to participate in projects if they can see the personal benefit. They want to hope for a better future but many struggle with a sense of hopelessness. They throw up their hands and declare, “This is Africa." Culturally, they are untrusting. Bribes are a normal part of doing business with authorities. There is very little employment within the village. Men will often go to the cities to find work, some simply abandoning their families and leaving them destitute. Widows and orphans are marginalized. Some young widows will resort to prostitution to support their children. They desperately need ways to feed their families and to support themselves.

Agriculturally, the soil is full of rocks and some clay. It could be worked to produce food with attention to conditioning the soil and removing rocks from the planting space. The water table is deep, but it would be possible to irrigate if the region had more wells. The climate makes growing year around possible. The traditional greens which are grown in the area are a staple, but do not provide all the nutrition needed. 

Goals

1. The people will develop a personal relationship with Christ which will govern their lives. This relationship will affect their hope for the future and their understanding of life purpose. It will improve their view of self and their world. It will change the choices they make. It will change how they interact with each other. Achievement of this goal will be evidenced by a change in character which rejects the acts of sinful nature and embraces the fruit of the spirit as identified in Galatians 5:19-23.

 2. The people will learn skills and knowledge they need to provide basic necessities such as clean water, sustainable food sources and healthful practices

 3. Villagers will form cooperatives with other villagers to develop small business opportunities and to support one another in times of need. They will learn business skills based on Christian principles.

 4. Orphans will be assisted in finding financial resources to pay for their education. Older orphans will learn skills necessary to provide for themselves.