Looking after Orphans and Vulnerable Children

St. Mary’s Day Care Center for Orphans at Nakonde

The proposed St Mary’s Day Care Centre in Nakonde will play an active role in the daily struggle of the community to alleviate the suffering of orphans and vulnerable children in the Nakonde area.

The number of people, in particular children, who have been negatively affected directly and indirectly by the dramatic increase in HIV/AIDS infection in the Nakonde area has multiplied at an alarming rate.

The parish of St Mary’s, established just recently, is already having a significantly positive effect in the community.

The centre, which will be built on the land of St Mary’s parish, will become a focal point in the community. The children will have a place where they will not only find a nutritious meal, medical care and enjoyable activities but also comfort and guidance. The volunteers will at last have a decent building to work from. The facilities in the centre will allow them to be able to look after and provide for the underprivileged children in a much better way.


Mpika Diocese covers the districts of Mpika, Chinsali, Isoka and Nakonde. Nakonde is about 1 000 km from the capital Lusaka and 400 km from Mpika. It is a chaotic and bustling town righton the border between Zambia and Tanzania. It is situated at the point where the Great North Road from the Zambian capital of Lusaka enters Tanzania. It is a tarred, busy road because of the trade between the two countries. Nakonde is the fastest growing town in the Northern Province, with well over 20,000 people and because of its location it is becoming an important commercial centre. People of different origins and backgrounds may spend up to two weeks doing business there, or waiting to clear their goods with the Zambian Revenue Authority. As in almost all the world’s transit points, especially those in low socio-economic areas, prostitution is a thriving industry.

The international trade that has congested Nakonde and its neighbour across the border in Tanzania, Tunduma, has brought a dramatic increase in AIDS infection and the orphans are the silent victims of the tragedy.

St Mary’s Parish is part of the  Diocese of  Mpika.  For many years the Diocese of Mpika has been actively involved in initiating and developing many projects connected to education, health and social issues. The Home Based Care (HBC) programme was introduced in 2001 to face issues resulting from HIV and AIDS. Its main activities are:

1) community-based awareness campaigns aimed at behavioural change and reducing stigma and discrimination.

2) care and support for PLWHA (People Living With HIV and AIDS) and the chronically ill in their homes.

3) Voluntary Counselling and Testing.

4) care and educational support to OVCs  (Orphans and Vulnerable Children).

The OVC programme was started by the parishioners of St. Mary’s themselves but they, along with the HBC workers, volunteers and caregivers in Nakonde desperately need help in their efforts to provide support for the ever increasing number of vulnerable and orphaned children in the town. Fr. Nicolas Chisongo is the priest in charge of  St. Mary ’s and oversees the OVC programme.

The Planned Building

The lay out and planning of the OVC day care centre building was drawn up in September 2008 following a visit to Zambia by Elizabeth and Diego Dotti. The centre will include an infirmary, an office, a kitchen, storeroom, bathrooms as well as an area for eating / activities / teaching/ workshops. Pit latrine toilets will be built at the back of the centre.

The centre will be built in the parish and will be owned by the Mpika Diocese. The Diocese of Mpika as a registered Church in Zambia has the legal rights to provide facilities for charity work including the St. Mary’s Day care Centre in Nakonde. There is a borehole with a water tank at the Church itself, which was installed in 2008.  There is electric power and there is a rural hospital near the Church.


The Mpika Diocese deals with various funding organizations among them Caritas Norway, Catholic Relief Services USA, Cordaid, the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS). A network of private fundraising in Italy, Ireland and the UK has resulted in having now enough money to start building the foundations and walls.  The proposed roofing material is very basic and this is an area which we are keen to improve.

How the Center will be used

This is not a school, no salaries are paid. The three Sisters in charge of the project depend on a group of volunteers from the  Parish to assist in running the centre, in providing classes and activities for the young orphans. The aim is to not only feed, clothe, medically assist  and educate these needy children who are at high risk but also to provide them with a Christian reference point and spiritual guidance. The orphans who will benefit from such a centre presently number well over 100 but this number is  always increasing. We fear this is only the tip of an iceberg. At the moment, because of lack of funds, only the most vulnerable, about 60, attend the bi-weekly meeting organised by the volunteers in the parish.  These children are the future adults in the community, by giving them a better upbringing the whole community benefits.

The infirmary can provide primary care, health and social training programmes and link into existing health services.  There would be a lot of potential for initiating projects which could empower the children with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to make appropriate and positive life choices.  Some of these projects are aimed at the older children and could include some or eventually all of the following:
–          sewing classe
–          carpentry
–          bread making
–          acquiring agricultural knowledge especially in sustainable farming (Conservation agriculture practices), in piggery and poultry farming
–          training in AIDS awareness

The nutrition programme would be two fold:

1)      Improving the quality and quantity of food provided for the children. Up to now the children have only be getting a cup of sweet tea and a bun because of lack of funds. The children are undernourished. When funds will be sufficient, the following is the proposed meal plan per week:

Monday             nshima  –  meat (pork)   –  vegetables  –  fruit
Tuesday            chicken  –  rice  –  vegetables  –  fruit
Wednesday        nshima  –  fish  –  vegetables  –  fruit
Thursday           rice  –  meat (pork)  –  vegetables  –  fruit
Friday                nshima  –  chicken  –  vegetables  –  fruit

The vegetables and fruit would be provided by the fruit and vegetable gardens in the parish. When the piggery and poultry farms are established they will provide meat. A fish pond could supply fish but this has not been planned as yet.  Educating children how to prepare a balanced meal using food which is available locally. Identifying food rich in proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins and learning how to improve their diet.

Income generating projects

It is vital that the project  be self sustaining. There are plans ready for the building of a piggery and a poultry farm.  Sewing classes in the OVC centre can generate funds through the making and sale of school uniforms and  crafts.  There is enough land for vegetable gardens which as well as providing food for the centre can also be sold in the town.

So Können Sie Helfen:

Ihre Spenden können Sie überweisen an:
Deutsche Bank, Filiale Iserlohn
BLZ: 445 700 24
Konto Nr.: 068711
Kto.Inhaber: Mpika Diocese
Vermerk: Nakonde ODCC

Vielen Dank und Vergelt’s Gott!

Plans for St Mary’s Day Care Centre