“KINDNESS is a language the blind can see and the deaf can hear”. A priest once told me years ago when I, as head of the Alter Boys in my parish in Kasama, escorted him on one of his visits to a disabled community of people afflicted by leprosy. These words of Fr Jean Luc Marois ran fresh on my mind last Tuesday June 18, 2019 when the Copperbelt Energy Corporation showed the best of corporate kindness to Wukwashi wa Nzambi in Chimwemwe township in Kitwe.
This is a home for disabled and mentally challenged children of all kinds run by a couple, Mr and Mrs Mutembu. Wukwashi wa Nzambi is a Lunda expression literally translated God’s Help.
For every person with his or her conscience tight, visiting Wukwashi brings an outpouring of emotions, as the glaring desperation, insecurity and hopelessness is visible in these otherwise special children.
With an infrastructure that has seen some better days, poor water reticulation and the couple’s limited resources, the shortcomings and hardships of the centre can be told in a thousand words.
But CEC somehow passed through the centre, and was touched, prompting the energy company to lighten the ‘Mutembus’ burden by coming in big with a K1million budget which has left the centre glittering and the occupants hopeful.
CEC constructed three new classrooms, a physiotherapy room, an administration block and ablution blocks.
The infrastructure has been stocked with classroom furniture, physiotherapy equipment, including recreation facilities such as a play park and requisites.
A standalone borehole to improve water reticulation at the institution has also been constructed.
After giving the centre such a facelift, new lease of life, CEC invited a partner, who is equally passionate about the welfare of children regardless of their being, first lady Esther Lungu, to be part of the commissioning of this humanitarian effort.
In so doing, CEC built the capacities of the children upwards, put their insecurities to sleep, and reminded them that they are worthy, magical. CEC was the light in their dim world.
The children at this centre barely move: they need mobility aids.
CEC is involved in several initiatives in schools, hospitals, universities and construction of foot bridges around communities they operate in but the humanitarian gesture on that ‘forsaken’ community is CSR in larger proportions. It shed light on the plight of disability and its extent, known and unknown.
Perhaps it is what its chairman London Mwafulilwa meant when he said: “We believe our longevity as a business cannot be separated from how well we have invested in the social as well as economic side of business. Hence, beyond social investments, which are an intricate part of our business strategy…and we will not waiver from our commitment to positively impact communities by creating opportunities for individuals with whom we share resources because we see and believe in the immense potential every person holds which may be limited only by their lack of resources and opportunities to compete fairly. Children and young people have a very special place in our social investment programme and the children at Wukwashi are no exception. We know that they will thrive because they possess inherent abilities which we all should nurture, support and harness.”
The first lady equally came in handy, first, appreciated the role of volunteers who help children at the centre in their various special needs with K10,000 cash to help themselves.
She further donated foodstuffs, bathing soap, washing powder, sanitary pads, wheel chairs and other walking aids and other valuables that will forever leave a lasting impact on the life of the children.
And after all is said and done, she summed it up candidly and took time to interact with the kids, pushing them on the wheelchairs while sitting down among those that don’t walk.
“Allow me at this juncture to appreciate Copperbelt Energy Corporation Plc who have recognised my passion for children and afforded me the opportunity to participate in what we have done here…you found a seed struggling to fully germinate in this place and recognised its potential to grow and bear fruit. Without question, CEC has invested in the future of this country by supporting not only the children of Wukwashi Wa Nzambi but many other children and young people in the community. Wukwashi Wa Nzambi is now a place with proper structures and constant water supply including amenities that, perhaps, some of us may take for granted because we enjoy these facilities in our localities. However, the children being cared for here have some unique requirements such as special seats and learning aids, assistive devises, wheelchairs and meals,” she said.
“It would be amiss for me not to acknowledge the founders of this place, Mr and Mrs Mutembu. Oftentimes we think touching lives depends on wealth but you have demonstrated that one does not need to be affluent in order to make a difference in other people’s lives. I know you did not have millions of kwacha and other resources when you started but you were armed with an overpowering consciousness to do something for children and parents whose support they needed. So do not ever take your contribution lightly. You have been able to attract other donors and support from individuals and organisations to Wukwashi other than CEC, because you have shown that you are credible, trustworthy and well-meaning,” she added.
The Zambian economy is biting hard and people at the lower end of the economic spectrum are the worst hit.
Companies and businesses are struggling too but like the teaching of Pope John Paul II: “The strongest people make time to help others even if they are struggling with their own problems.”
All can help in making the world a better place through such gestures like the Mutembus have shown the way-God will surely bless them.
A visit to Wukwashi gives the sad reality that there are indeed people in this world that are grappling with afflictions of untold proportions and we should stop complaining.
CEC has clearly placed a challenge on bigger corporations.