Remembrance… Chikumbuso, a grassroots project located in Ng’ombe compound, provides hope and opportunity to some of the most vulnerable women and children in the township. Chikumbuso offers free education for children, adult training and capacity building through micro enterprise opportunities, youth life skills training and outreach to the elderly. Chikumbuso means Remembrance. We remember those who have died, where we come from and to do for others. Our artists earn a living making beautiful, handcrafted, fashion products for sale both locally and internationally; our school and sponsorship programs educate students and help sustain families; and, our local staff provides counseling and encouragement for those affected by HIV/AIDS. More than a handbag... Through skill training, micro enterprise supports our artists and their families and brings money back into the project. In late 2004, Linda Wilkinson approached a group of widows living in Ng’ombe. Their families had been decimated by the HIV/AIDS crisis and they found themselves without any means for earning money to care for their ever-growing households. They nursed and buried their children and relatives and took in grandchildren, nieces and nephews. The first priority for the group became finding a means of making money. They had little formal education and leaned on artistic skills. The handbag project began with just a few recycled Shoprite bags, a crochet hook and a pair of scissors. Today, the group has grown to 45 widows and 25 at risk youth making beautiful handcrafted items. Their skills as artists and entrepreneurs have grown through various classes ranging from learning about color and design to financial training for both their personal and professional lives. English training has helped the women continue learning even though they dropped out of formal education many, many years ago. Their confidence has increased tremendously; they regularly attend local fashion shows and often find themselves speaking to organizations about the project and how they can help. Educating Children that would otherwise have no opportunity to attend school is a top priority at Chikumbuso. These children will grow up to be Educators, Nurses, Doctors, Bankers and Community Leaders. If earning an income was Priority One, educating the many children in their homes became Priority Two. Chikumbuso Community School began with just a few children and now educates nearly 450 children. 300 children attend Chikumbuso for Grades 1-6. In addition to receiving a quality education at no cost, Chikumbuso provides a daily nutritious meal of nshima or rice, a protein and a green vegetable. Healthy minds and full stomachs do better in school. In 2013, Chikumbuso served over 56,000 meals – Wow! Children also have opportunities to join clubs: scouts, media and art. They attend field trips and visit with other local schools, sharing their stories and making cultural exchanges. Grade 7 through 12 students are sent to local community schools through our sponsorship program. Fees, uniforms and school supplies are provided. We’re quite proud of our students – they do very well in their new schools as compared to their peers. Remembering to give back to our community is very important... Chikumbuso serves the community in meaningful ways such as sending monthly home food stipends with 125 of our most vulnerable students and 20 elderly living in the community; operating our Safe Havens programs where 9 extremely vulnerable children live fully boarded to finish their schooling; hosting teacher training for other community schools when we hold workshops for our teachers; and, hosting UTH for community immunizations. Come by and visit us anytime! Chikumbuso is easy to find, just off Zambezi Road down the road from Foxdale Court. Buy some of our great products in our store and watch the artists at work. Take a tour of the project and find out ways to get involved and make a difference in the lives of widows and orphans in Ng’ombe.