The Okodwela Organization

In my first stop in Livingstone, Zambia I met up with the beautiful Okodwela organization. This charity organization is started by US-based Amanda and is doing an incredible job in Livingstone. Okodwela increases stability for families by building homes, enhancing opportunities through education and employment and developing thriving communities by collaboration.

Together with Wezi – the project manager of Okodwela in Zambia – I visited the school in the morning, the market with Vanessa’s shop and two rural villages to see the incredible and necessary work the Okodwela organization is doing here. Here you will read all about the organization and the visit!

Linda’s School project

Here in Livingstone, The Okodwela organization is especially active in the Linda-community, a neighborhood just outside of the city centre. Here, Okodwela, together with Zambezi Sunrise trust and many volunteers, supports the Linda Community School where many children of the Linda community get education from first grade up to eighth grade. They learn writing, reading, calculation, games, songs and basic skills such as gardening.

In Zambia, education is mostly generated by the state, but these schools cost a lot of money per child ($70,- for 3 months). Families with up to six children and having less than $2,- a day to spend, keep their children at home because it’s just too expensive to keep their children in school. These children start working with the age of ten. 

The Okodwela organization, together with The Linda School and its’ principal Cathy, carefully select children of less fortunate families to join the school program. Offering education for free as well as two nutritious meals a week. The school is completely full and with the extra money generated by donations, Okodwela and Linda School are building extra classrooms. Still, principal Cathy is having ten conversations a day with families for a school application and most children have to be turned down due to lack of space. They do what they can to improve their situation.

Education is such an important part of developing a country, a city or a neighborhood. With education, children possibly get better chances than their parents and this results in the overall development of welfare. And it’s extremely needed in a country Zambia, where over 64% is living beneath BNP – earning less than minimum wages and having hard times feeding their families.

The school has proper hygiene facilities (very important!)
Me and Cathy, the principal of the Linda community school

The situation in the Linda community

  • Children in the community may only receive one meal a day. Most meals consist of Shima, a corn-wheat mixed with water. Additions to Shima may vary but are mostly gravy or some veggies/ fruits or egg. This meal may lack nutrition as nutritious food is more expensive.
  • Most families live in one-room houses and some are constructed by clay and straw.
  • The main business in this area is mining and retrieving stones as a base for construction. The difficult thing about this work is the fact they never know when a constructor will come and take an order. This results in an unstable financial situation for many families and having difficulties feeding their children.
  • Families consist of many children. Due to a high HIV/AIDS death ratio, many children become orphan and either stay with an uncle / or they get adopted by another family. The community takes care of each other as much as possible.
  • The costs for one child to go to a government school, is $70,- for three months. Families in the Linda community can’t afford this most of the time.

Building homes in the Meloni and Mulala village

One of the main focus points of Okodwela is creating a better life standard for children of the Linda community. First of all with education, but also with proper housing. As we visited two local villages outside of Linda, it becomes very clear why this is an important part of the beautiful work of this organization. The housing of rural villages is simply said very poor. Some homes consist of mud and sticks, finished with a straw roof. It’s small, way too small for a family to live in. Their kitchen is outside and all they do inside is sleep – sometimes on the floor. A single shower of rain at night makes them need to stand up, because rain leaks through the roof. A gust of wind will blow the roof of the house.

To give families a stable place where kids can come home, Okodwela together with constructor Andrew build brick houses for families of the children in Linda’s School. They aim to create home for twelve families here. I was able to visit two rural villages, outside of the Linda Community area. We were able to visit Irene’s home – a mum of four – that got a brick house with two rooms and a strong roof thanks to the Okodwela project. She’s so thankful to be able to give her children a safe place to come back to after school. Amanda was able to provide Irene with a mattress, which means her children don’t need to sleep on the floor.

Next to Irene’s home, we visited Manuel’s home which is currently in poor condition. Manuel’s family will be the next family to receive a stable family home. And I can tell you: it’s much needed. This small but intelligent boy deserves a place to come home to and do his homework, as he is very keen and eager in school. He aims to become a pilot someday and we all believe he will.

The road to the rural villages can take up to 40 minutes
My kind of happiness!
The Okodwela Organization realized a home for Irene and her for children.
They are incredibly happy to have a stable family home, especially because the daughter has been very ill.
Manuel’s home – the next Okodwela home project
His kitchen where we makes his daily meal (Nshima – a mixture of water and mais flour – ones a day)
Manuel and his brother currently live in a unsave place with no walls or a door

Vanessa’s Shop on the local market

Okodwela creates chances whenever possible and one of them has developed for Vanessa. Vanessa is a single mum from the Linda community, who got provided a small workshop for her sewing business. Handmade
Happy By: Vanessa. Okodwela was able to rent a small shop in the local Dambwa market, where she creates and sews bags, jewelry, aprons, clutches and toiletry bags. Her products are sold on the Okodwela webshop, receiving many sales from the US for these authentical accessories. Vanessa gets a stable income from Okodwela, being able to take care of her son and herself.

Kids at the local market
Baobab fruits on the market
Vanessa’s shop creates beautiful accessories from these fabrics

What we can do

Okodwela is a small organization with the power to do big things and make an incredible impact in the community. With little money, they are able to provide education, meals and housing for as many children possible. Their donations are 100% used for the organization. They can build more classrooms, employ an extra teacher and hopefully give more children education to develop a better future. 

And The Sunshine Journey wants to make a change and help. Seeing the work they do in Livingstone, makes it even more valuable to make it happen. Therefore, a donation will be done by TSJ according to the received likes on the Instagram post. Please, help raising the donation by liking the post and sharing it with your friends. More likes will convert into a bigger donation!

Do you feel inspired by this organization? Feel like joining The Sunshine Journey? It’s easy! You can drop your donation directly below with The Sunshine Journey and be sure to like the IG to see the results and what they will do with our donation.

Your donation will make a big impact and together we will make a difference. Thanks a lot for your kindness, know that it will be rewarded with satisfaction and you’ll see the results of the donations very soon.

You are also welcome to help them out by donating and supporting them directly on their website.

Lots of love from Zambia xx