Posted by George Poulakos on Nov 10, 2017

(A proposal for our consideration from the Rotary Club of Ventura, California).

What is Happening?

There is only one crossing between the Southern African country of Zambia and neighbor Botswana, which is in the town of Kazungula.  The Zambesi River flows between the two countries, and all vehicles must be carried over on a pontoon.  Commercial trucks wait in a queue for up to 10 days, during which time the drivers play cards, listen to music, and way too often, entice vulnerable young girls to “entertain” them.  This is much easier than it should be in an extremely impoverished town with a history of sexual abuse and child marriage.  The sexual abuse endured by these young girls and women provides sustenance for families that otherwise would have none.  With no alternative source of income, many girls and young women become victims.


What Could Possibly Be Done to Help?

There is a ray of hope. Prominent civic leaders in Livingstone, Zambia—a nearby tourist destination—decided to take action.  They identified 3 areas where trained young women can find employment—tailoring, computer work, and food preparation.  They formed an NGO, and opened The Grace Center for counseling and training.  In addition, the Grace Center hopes to provide funds for secondary school education.  

They have ambitious goals, but so far they only have enough funding for the tailoring program, which has enrolled 30 young girls and women.  With additional funding, a small factory can be created in the existing space to produce school uniforms and retail clothing.  Construction has begun on a food preparation school and a restaurant, a first for Kazungula! Skilled graduates can also find employment in surrounding tourist hotels and lodges.  Finally, computers are being acquired, and trained graduates will be highly employable at the local customs offices, as well as tourist hotels and lodges around Livingstone.

The members of the Livingstone Rotary Club are very hopeful that they can find an international sponsor and initiate a global grant to fund The Grace Center.  The Livingstone Club has a strong reputation for success—they’ve completed over 20 global grants and over 75 district grants.

If you are interested in learning more about this project, please contact George Poulakos of the Rotary Club of Ventura at (middle initial is a J) or 954-494-4387.

For more information see:  The Grace Centre: A Place of Hope - Changing the cycle of early marriage and sexual abuse for young girls in Kazungula, Zambia .


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