Background: In May, 2014, two Zambian friends introduced me to a disturbing piece of life I’ve only ever heard about – prostitution. My friends are working with a group of prostitutes in the copper mining city of Kitwe, where Robert and I stay when in Zambia. One of them has been inviting the women to her home weekly for over a year. She provides them with a meal, a safe place to relax and interact with each other and with her, and invites them to attend church with her. I was invited to join in a meal and then visit two women in their homes.
These women see no other way to provide for themselves and their children. They have little formal education. Some of their mothers were already prostitutes. Some are widowed and left with nothing but their children. Other family members are dependent on their provision. Prostitution is a dangerous job. The women are often beaten or raped. Many times they work all night and are not paid. The women in this group desperately want to leave prostitution but it’s not that easy.
Project Proposal: For the women to exit prostitution, they need an alternative income source. A program has been set up beginning with six women that will give them the skills and start up capital for a small business such as trading fish or beans, or baking and selling goods. Just as important as financial help to the women is good training, both of business/entrepreneur skills, and life skills. An established NGO in Kitwe, PLAEP (ProLife Advancement and Education Project) – will provide the training and mentoring for the first year, using the GROW concept (Grassroots building Our Wealth). The women will then form a group that meets weekly and is accountable to each other.
Most of the women have children. Experience shows that a successful rehabilitation program must also incorporate them. Many children are in the streets instead of school because their families cannot afford school fees and uniforms. As education is vital to help children towards a better future than that of their mothers, we will also strive to help with school fees.
Linda (name changed to protect identity) is a young mother of a ten-year old son and a toddler, Janie. Like most of the other prostitutes in the group, Linda is HIV positive. This is especially disturbing as most clients of prostitutes are married men. Linda struggles to provide the basics for her children. Most evenings she goes out to work, trying to stay sober towards morning. She needs to be home in time so her son, who sleeps with Janie in the only bed in the tiny apartment, can go to school. Then she needs to sleep too. So that Janie is quiet, Linda gives her an adult dose of an antihistamine.
Esther (name changed)is practically deaf due to an illness and was desperate to get out of prostitution. Eva and Irene were able to provide Estherwith enough capital to start a small business so she can now provide the necessities for herself. She is still short the school fees for her daughter, but is determined to make her way without going back to prostitution.
I am looking for people to partner with me to help these women. Research shows that as women are able to provide for themselves with an alternative income to prostitution, they become more self-confident and are more likely to stay free of it, especially if their children are also helped.
The project is registered with the Zambian government and has its own bank account. Charis Global Community Aid, of Innisfail AB, is a Canadian registered charity and will take donations towards the project. You can donate online at their website, or send a cheque to:
Charis Global Community Aid
c/o Johanna Huising
Red Deer County, AB
Please note on the cheque that the funds are for the Rehabilitation of Prostitutes Kitwe Project