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The Challenge

 Widows

Widows are among the most vulnerable group in Africa. In traditional African society women marry young and stay at home to look after the children. A woman is bought in marriage by her prospective husband and becomes the property of him & his family. The death of a husband is extremely traumatic as it leaves her at the mercy of her husband's family who may perform ritualistic and degrading sexual cleansing traditions on her. With no state support it is essential that the widow find some form of employment if she is to have any hope for independence however if she has been given no education it is likely that she and her children will struggle.

Orphans & vulnerable children

Often children are needed to work to supplement the family income or to look after younger siblings so that any surviving adult can work to feed the family. These children have little hope of attending school or receiving any formal education. Education opens the doors of opportunity & presents choices. Orphaned children are passed around the remaining family often treated as little more than servants. Girls will be married off as quickly as possible & the threat of sexual exploitation is ever present for these vulnerable children.

HIV Aids

Aids is now considered to be the biggest threat to Zambia's struggle for development. Zambia has the 4th highest adult prevalence in the world. Devastating the population Aids is wiping out a generation of professionals including engineers, health workers & politicians. Although treatments for HIV Aids exist to slow the progression of the virus there is no known cure. Treatments remain outside the reach of people already struggling with extreme poverty. It is also vitally important that people taking anti-retroviral medication receive adequate nutrition & good health care advice for it to have any real effect.

Traditional medicines

Traditional ways of life in African society include many practices that would be considered barbaric or nonsensical in the light of western understanding of the workings of the human body. For people struggling with the effects of poverty & disease one of the first ports of call can be to the traditional african healer, someone often revered and considered to have supernatural powers. Combining superstition, fear & intimidation with some basic herbalism people are often encouraged to take remedies that have limited or no real efficacious effect on their symptoms & that may even prove harmful. They may even be warned against western medication & attempt ritualistic practices to rid themselves of the issues or symptoms they are facing.

Poverty

With the majority of the African nations still struggling with debt, despite the generosity of international debt relief efforts over recent years, poverty remains one of the overriding issues that people face on an everyday basis. Living on less than $1 per day is the norm for many. 87% of the Zambian population live on less than $2 per day.

Grandmothers

HIV Aids has so changed the face of African society that it is now the grandparents that are left to care for their orphaned grandchildren. once they would have been able to expect that their own children would be there to support them in their old age but with no state support these elderly people are having to cope with the demands of raising a family all over again. empowering the grandparents to find ways that they can be self-supporting has never been more important.