Kalweo has seen more suffering than most village areas in Zambia. In 1995, an incident happened that was to mark the area for years to come. One drunk soldier tried to rape the wife of a local villager. The anger of the community boiled over and he was beaten to death. That was tragic enough. What was to follow, was truly evil.
Responding to the death of their colleague, local soldiers ran amok in the village of Kalweo. Houses were burned to the ground, people beaten and killed, nobody was safe, not even women and children. For two days the atrocities raged. Eventually Zambian army units were scrambled to halt the carnage and it was stopped.
It was in Kalweo last week, that Dignity ran the latest in a series of Life! Group Training, whose theme is to “Love God and Love Your Neighbour”. The massacre in 1995, has left a legacy of broken lives in the village. Bernard explained to me,
“Lots of parents were killed, which left a lot of orphans. Many of those orphans have turned to drink or even prostitution. Prostitution has led to people contracting HIV/AID’s. HIV has led to much sickness in the community. Suffering has been passed from one generation to the next.”
People in Kalweo are known to be hard, cynical and divided. Even in the early stages of our training you could see divided groups of people refusing to interact with one another. Dignity’s message is incredibly positive. We believe in the positive change that Christian Faith and Jesus makes to the individual and wider community life. By the end of the training, some people had made a commitment to come together, work out their faith together, invite the wider community and start working for change in their life and that of their village. This is an incredibly positive step for some of these people.
An elderly man has been left to suffer in the village of Kalweo, forgotten by his rich lawyer son. His mobility is restricted, his house is falling down. With the torrential rains of Zambia just around the corner, his situation is not good. These very villagers in Kalweo, have decided to help him rebuild his house as an act of love. Everyone else may ignore this man, but they are not going to.
Dignity will continue to work in Kalweo and the surrounding villages. Lives will change, prostitutes will find a different way of life, alcoholics will not need their alcohol anymore, people will find a sense of Dignity that was so cruelly taken from them.
This is how Rural Africa will be built. From the heart outwards.