Three years ago, the St. Peter Claver Society ended its support of the Mulele Mwana tailoring cooperative for a good reason. ITS SUCCESS! Because of many generous donations, we had succeeded in helping young graduates of the tailoring program become self-supporting by assisting them in developing a revolving fund so that subsequent graduates would have enough capital to start up their own dress shops. Our co-foundress, Shimwaayi Muntemba, then proposed we take on what would become the Cardinal Mazombwe Agricultural and Life Skills Centre, which we did. SPCS took on the farm as a project in 2014 beginning with building an extension to the pigsty and providing many piglets. Then SPCS paid for improvements to the living quarters for the children by paying for windows, doors and beds–none of which they had for many years.
Who was Cardinal Mazombwe? He was Zambia’s first Cardinal who had a lifelong devotion to promoting education. In fact, during his 53 years as a priest, he established many universities, nursing schools, hospitals and education centers.
After observing the alarming number of orphans of AIDS in Zambia, the cardinal obtained 200 acres of land near a hospital and nursing school he had founded. His aim was to interest orphans and very poor young people to live at the farm and raise crops and livestock for their own consumption and to earn money to put themselves through school. Since 2002, this enterprise has been very successful in helping almost 200 young adults graduate as teachers, nurses, priests and more efficient farmers who are now self-sufficient and able to help their siblings. Cardinal Mazombwe wanted to stem the flow of orphans to the cities where they are generally unemployed, and too often resort to crime and prostitution, in order to survive.
Just before he died in 2013, the Cardinal contacted Shimwaayi to ask for her help in building a skills training school at the farm. He knew that Dr. Muntemba has a track record for initiating many similar projects while working with World Bank.
In 2014, our Committee members, Jay LaMonica and his son Gabe, visited the Mazombwe Farm and resolved to carry out the Cardinal’s dream of building an Agricultural skills center. Sadly, we lost Jay to cancer in March 2016. Jay’s dedication to helping African orphans was well known among his friends and relatives who generously donated $6,000 in his name toward building this skills center. With this seed money, the St. Peter Claver Society has committed itself to seeing the Cardinal’s and Jay LaMonica’s dream of establishing an agricultural skills center come true. However, the initial cost of over $40k is way more than what we generally raise. Especially since we still plan to continue our support to all three of our projects, which generally comes to about $20k a year.
Now we are asking ourselves, “Have we bit off more than we can chew?”
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Residents of Cardinal Mazombwe Agricultural and Life Skills Centre Mulele Mwana graduates of Tailoring Program