Hope is Contagious

con·ta·gious (adj.): Transmissible by direct or indirect contact; spreading from one to another; infectious

What happens when hope is really, truly, beautifully experienced? It spreads. You can’t contain it. You want everyone to know how you got it. You want everyone to experience the benefit and joy that you have. You just can’t keep it to yourself.

The exciting announcement is this very thing. It’s happening. Hope is spreading.

What’s really amazing with the contagion of hope with our CiH women? It’s reaching beyond their families and friends, even beyond their community. These women have a vision for CiH as a vehicle for hope across this entire nation. They want to see the lives of other Zambian women changed despite deep cultural oppression and a class system that tells them that change is impossible. They want all of this, because they now have it. They are empowered, and they will not be stopped.

So tomorrow it begins. A new chapter for us, an incredibly exciting one.

All ten CiH women want to share their skill. It can’t be held within the walls of the Ng’ombe compound anymore; hope is busting at the seams. Elina brought the idea to the group that they should share their knowledge with those so much less fortunate than themselves (our group is made up of women living a slum compound, keep in mind). Those who seem to have nothing still want to give, and give generously. That’s what hope does to you. It makes you alive, it gives you purpose, it makes you understand the true value of love, and it wants to reach out to others.

The women, apart from any direction from US staff, have unanimously decided to sacrifice their own materials (scissors, fabric, hand needles) to start another branch of CiH in a remote village 2 hours away from Lusaka. So tomorrow all of us city folk are cramming on a bus for a 2-hour drive down a bumpy road that shouldn’t really be a road, to a village named Muchochoma in the Manyika region of Zambia.

It’s nearly impossible to frame a context for this village for you, but we have to give it a shot. Just try to imagine this, and know that this is 100% real and not exaggerated one bit. -Muchochoma village does not have a school. Children must walk 2 hours if they want to attend, but very few actually do due to the inability to afford school uniforms. -There is no clinic or access to healthcare of any kind. With 40 adults and 40 children, the population is extremely young due to preventable disease accounting for lives lost without proper healthcare. -The people speak their own tribal language due to their isolation. None of our current CiH women will be able to communicate with them, but we will have one translator with us. Apart from the assistance we can still manage, as smiles and laughter seem to be pretty universal. -The men of the village have no means of an income, except to produce and sell charcoal, which is a 3-day trip to town to try to sell what they make along the way. They leave the women and children at risk during this journey in hopes of coming back with a few dollars. -The nearest water source of any kind is a 3-hour walk away from the village. Beyond a shortage of drinking, bathing, and cooking water, this also makes farming nearly impossible and extremely inefficient due to lack of irrigation. -Village housing is comprised of mud huts with thatched roofs and dirt floors. The gathering spot for residents is under a giant shade tree nearby.

As far from normal as this village sounds to our American standards, we are quickly reminded that the women of this village are just that: women. Women with hearts, craving hope, experiencing joy despite oppression, courageous women. Tomorrow we are all excited to launch CiH: Muchochoma as our 10 CiH women from Lusaka will be training, encouraging and equipping 12 village women with the skill of sewing, knowledge of profitable business, and most importantly with hope motivated by love.

There will surely be photos and video to come, but until then enjoy this photo of some Muchochoma women from a few weeks back, the first time Elina and I met with them. What a joy.

With So Much Chikondi, Amy