A community, more commonly referred to in Zambia as a ‘compound’, is a place compounded with houses. It feels as it sounds. Homes are nestled in next to one another, sharing brick walls or grass fences in-between. The trees are shared between families and noises are too. Dusty footpaths connect houses built of baked reddish-brown bricks, with grass or metal sheets for rooftops. Windows are small and colorful fabric fills the door frames. Some homes have electricity and water is collected in the shallow well in the neighbor’s yard. Little stands sell small portions of beans, vegetables, oil and salt, all while the noise from churches and stereo systems fill the scene.
When you walk through a compound, the scene is flooded with people and they capture every ounce of your attention. Children are running everywhere, singing songs and shouting at one another. Dirty feet are darting from house to house. Mothers are cutting vegetables on their doorstep, chatting with their neighbors. Babies are bathing and men are sitting on small stools next to their houses. Weighty wheelbarrows are moving firewood and women are sewing under the shade of a mango tree.
AIt seems joyful; full of shared spaces and shared lives. Mothers and sisters live next door and it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between a brother, a cousin or a friend. There is a simple beauty and fullness of life in these compounds that is hard to place in my own life experience. I wish I could treasure it forever and share it with the world.
However, there is a lot about compound life that I know nothing about. Things that cannot be seen on the surface or even felt in the stories. Things that the people living in the compounds would not wish to share with others and would remove from their own storylines if they had a chance. Most often, it seems, mothers and fathers are trying to make a life possible for their children to get out of that place. And it’s not because of the brick houses or the shared fences. It’s not because of the dusty footpaths or spotty electricity.
As a whole, Kabanana and Mwapona compounds can deal a really tough life. Poverty grips the lives of those who live there through poor health, lack of education and broken families. Abuse, exploitation, and corruption trap the most vulnerable and steal their voice. The lack of skills, jobs, and opportunities threaten growth and perpetuate a constant fight for survival. It is often believed that if you live in the compound, you will become who the compound makes you.
We believe He wants to see His people become who He made them to be, not simply who the compound is trying to make them become. Our dream is to transform these compounds into a place of hope, of truth, of freedom and of life. Our dream is to see the Kingdom of God come here, and come now.
We want Kabanana and Mwapona to be transformed into places that raise children who are rooted in their identity in Christ, confident in who their God is and who He has made them to be. We desire to see young women and young men envisioning their future with creativity and passion while pursuing their dreams. We want to see sickness and disease eradicated, and caregivers rise up from within. We hope to see men and women use their own hands to create opportunities and jobs for one another. We want to see hunger dismissed, and clean water in plenty. We want to see people look out for their neighbors, not just their own. We dream to see it as a safe place, full of peace, joy, rest and purpose.