Visiting Bembe


We just returned to our grandiose hotel after a day in the “bush country” where World Vision’s ADP (Area Development Project), Bembe, is located. I am sitting on a nice carpet, leaning against a fluffy bed in a pleasant room lit by several lamps that look like they belong in an art store. What the hotel doesn’t know is that I’m covered in dust accumulated by traveling along dirt paths and my shoes are caked with mud from attempting to water a young man’s cabbage patch.

The progression from city and civilization to rural was startling quick as we raced past the Zambian countryside. Within 10 minutes, houses were becoming sparse and within 20, huts with thatched roofs outnumbered brick structures. Just as I cannot shake the smell of Off bug spray and dry dirt off, so the faces of the Zambians we met cling stubbornly in my mind. I see the faces of proud men, shy children, and curious women. The tough faces of the men transformed into smiles as they showed off the buildings that World Vision had helped build. The weathered faces of the women broke into grins and melodious laughter erupted from their chests as we attempted to stir their Nshima (essentially maize porridge). The children eventually gathered their courage and approached us in groups of no less than three as we urged them on with outstretched hands.

As the schoolteacher explained the history of the school and the mass overcrowding that the teachers have to deal with (100:1 pupil to teacher ration), he could not control the urgency of his tone. He discussed the enormous challenges that each teacher must face in trying to control and pay attention to almost 100 students packed in a classroom. As we hit the road again, it dawned on me that this was an area that World Vision was preparing to leave as it had almost completed the program that they prescribed. If 615 students crammed into two school building surrounded by hits with thatched roofs was considered one of their more well-developed areas, I simply cannot fathom what a community that is just beginning the program will look like. However, a midst the still-apparent needs of this community was a permeating aura of hope. World Vision had not simply come in and supplied food for a few years but rather had implemented a sophisticated step-by-step program to educate and empower the local people to lift themselves up from the abject poverty in which they lived.

We met one young man who had recently acquired a greenhouse and land in which to plant cabbage. He had just finished and education program provided by World Vision and was extremely excited to see his learning come to fruition through his small patch of land. He had crafted an irrigation system out of pipes and a leaf blower and assured us without hesitation that the five thousand heads of cabbage he would be harvesting would be just the beginning. World Vision provided the start-up resources and education to enable this young man’s ambition and business smarts. While the need in this particular ADP is not lacking, it is incredibly encouraging to see our Famine funds at work inspiring and empowering the local people to believe in themselves. I have no doubt that the Lord is using teenagers in the United States through World Vision to dramatically change the livelihood of thousands of people yearly.