Unlikely Students

Our heartbeat has been for the vulnerable women of Zambia since the very beginning. And in telling those stories, the cultural norms often come out strong, presenting husbands and fathers as the abusers, as the neglecters, as the ones who don’t care and don’t want to care. And while that’s most always the case with the stories we hear from our ladies, there’s always an exception to the rule. And for this particular story, there are two exceptions to the rule. 

When we signed a partnership with House of Moses Orphanage, we were overcome with the excitement and hope that we get to play an active role in orphan prevention and family perseveration through empowering mothers with a skill before they are forced or encouraged to give up their children for them to experience a better life. We always just assumed that these willing participants, so passionate about keeping their children in their home, would be mothers. And while that’s true of the majority of the class, it’s not the complete truth. 

Enter: Francis and Richard. Dads. Husbands. An incredible inspiration to all of us at the Chikondi Community Center, from students to staff, and now reaching across the ocean. These men aren’t like the others.

They don’t abuse their wives; they speak openly against it. Francis tells our ladies  that no man should ever lay a hand on them. 

They don’t run from their families when the going gets tough; they enter in. Francis and Richard have both stepped up to do everything they can to get their family out of this desperate situation and into financial independence for the sake of their children.

They don’t sit by apathetically; they work hard. With an 85% unemployment being the reality in this compound setting, these men break the mold by seeking out a skill that will turn into self-employment. They are taking their future into their own hands by becoming skilled entrepreneurs, and putting in the hard work to get there. 

They don’t leave family responsibilities to the mother; they share the load. Francis brings his 5-year-old son, Blessing, to class daily so he can play with the other kids and witness his dad working hard for his family. And while Richard’s wife has struggled to learn a skill, rather than shame her, he has stepped up and joined the class, helping her carry the weight of the current situation. 

So this Father’s Day, we celebrate the exceptions in Zambia, the dads who are courageously choosing to stand up in their society and defy the cultural norm to love their families deeply, sacrificially, and boldly. Our hearts burst at the sight of these two men, Francis and Richard, with measuring tapes in hand, eager and quick to learn the skill of tailoring so that their children don’t have to become orphans. For their sacrifice, and for the sacrifice of all of the incredible dads out there, we say thank you. Zikomo Kwambili. 

Francis, father to a 5-year-old son, showing off the skirt pattern he created. 

Francis, father to a 5-year-old son, showing off the skirt pattern he created. 

Richard, dad of twins, hard at work at the Chikondi Community Center. 

Richard, dad of twins, hard at work at the Chikondi Community Center. 

Happy Father’s Day!

With Chikondi (Love),