More than enough: How one child sponsorship helps a whole community

Apr 10, 2019
Grief echoed through the village the day Debby’s brother died. Before Debby was born, the six-year-old boy succumbed to diarrhea caused by drinking water from a polluted stream.  

“Death was very common in those days,” remembers Debby’s 52-year-old father, Obby Kachepo, with sadness in his kind eyes.  

father looks on while children play in the background.
Obby Kachepo, 52, remembers that before World Vision came to his community, life was very hard. Photo: Laura Reinhardt

In October 2009, World Vision started child sponsorship in Moyo, southern Zambia. 

“When World Vision came, that’s when the change came,” says Obby.

Through the sponsorship program, World Vision worked with local leaders to tackle the challenges facing the community. Seven new borehole wells were drilled, five broken ones were repaired, and community members like Obby received training to promote good hygiene. 

In 2011, the year Debby was born, World Vision began providing goats to families in Moyo. Staff invited community members to choose 50 vulnerable families from among themselves to each receive four female goats from a local supplier and a male goat from outside the community—a “super goat”.  

“The breed which World Vision brought was a different breed,” says Obby. “They were big goats. The crossbreeding made our traditional goats bigger.”

The 50 families learned to care for the goats, including how to build shelters to keep them safe. When the animals multiplied, the families would give the baby goats to other families.  

In July 2012, Debby was sponsored by a woman named Debbie and her husband, David. The next year, Debby’s family received five goats from a family whose goats had multiplied.  

Steadily, Moyo was transforming. Families were thriving, and the joy of sponsorship flowed down the community’s sunflower-lined paths to the home of Debby’s best friend, Brendah. 

Brendah lives with her 73-year-old grandmother, Elinah, and six other children either orphaned or left behind by their parents.

Even though Brendah is not sponsored, she—like every child in the community, sponsored or not—has access to this clean water brought by sponsorship. And it’s completely changed her life. 

two girls at a water pump
Debby helps her best friend, Brendah by pumping water into Brendah's container. Photo: Laura Reinhardt

For Brendah, having clean water means she doesn’t miss school anymore due to water-related illness. That brings her closer to her dream of becoming a nurse. 

Next to Debby’s house lives Lightwell, who is 10. Like Brendah, Lightwell is not yet sponsored, but he still gets to attend World Vision’s reading camp, held on weekends. Lightwell goes everywhere with a book in his hand.

“My favourite thing is reading,” he says. “I like it even more than football (soccer).” 

In Moyo, students gather under trees and open fields. Lessons are interspersed with games. Teachers focus on individual children. Posters blow in the soft breeze, hanging from tree limbs with pictures that illustrate words in Tonga, the local language. The children sing their vowels: A, E, I, O, U, becomes A, E, I, O, moo when a cow passes by, drowning out the final vowel.

boy reads a book at reading camp
Lightwell, 11, loves World Vision's Reading Camp. Photo: Laura Reinhardt

“Any child can go to the reading [camp]—both sponsored and non-sponsored,” says Shepherd Chilombe, 48, who runs the programme.

Another enthusiastic participant at reading camp, 11-year-old Beatrice, is as funny and feisty as her friend, Debby. Although Beatrice is not yet sponsored, she and her family benefit from World Vision’s agriculture work in Moyo.

Beatrice’s stepfather, Patrick, 51, is an exemplary farmer, growing sunflowers, beans, okra, tomatoes  and maize. “We have plenty of food,” he says. “We still have maize from last season.”

This is a miraculous turnaround from eight years ago. What started with a muscle spasm turned into debilitating pain that made it so that Patrick could barely walk.

“I had given up,” he says. “I used to sit on a mat made of sacks—all day, every day.” Patrick was one of the first people to receive goats through the World Vision Gift Catalogue. Once the goats multiplied, he sold some to buy food.

“He was vulnerable but viable,”  says 51-year-old Eugern Siawala, director of World Vision’s agriculture programs in Moyo. Though his health was a concern, Eugern saw potential in Patrick.

father and daughter water their crops
Eleven-year-old Beatrice and her stepfather, Patrick Nzala, water the family's cabbage plants. Photo: Laura Reinhardt

Eugern encouraged Patrick to join a savings group and then suggested that Patrick take a small loan through World Vision’s microfinance program, VisionFund, which helps farmers and community members build their livelihoods. With the pump he purchased, he’s been able to water more land and grow healthier, more abundant crops.

Today, Patrick and Beatrice's family is secure.

And then there’s Adam, who attends Debby’s church. Adam, five, was born in 2013, the same year two hospitals were built in southern Zambia, one of them only two miles from Adam’s home.

The clinic is critical for Adam. Recently he began vomiting, and his parents didn’t know why. His father, Ignatius, took him for an examination.

Christabel Payton, 33, a nurse here for eight years, diagnosed him with possible peptic ulcers, probably from bacteria. “I’m happy that he came today,” she says.

nurse examines little boy at the hospital with his dad
Five-year-old Adam sits on his father's lap while Nurse Christabel Payton examines him at Moyo Clinic. Photo: Laura Reinhardt

Although he’s not yet sponsored, Adam is being treated at a first-class facility that is available, thanks to sponsorship, right in his community—a place that previously had no healthcare.

The nurse has seen big changes in Moyo. She says that people who had left to find opportunity elsewhere are returning. They know that because of sponsorship, Moyo now has more than enough.

Because of World Vision’s community-focused solutions, for every child you help, four more children benefit, too. Debby and her friends are all benefiting thanks to the fact that she’s sponsored.

Story by Kari Costanza