WISE empowers and creates economic independence for vulnerable women and children in Zambia through education, vocation and agriculture.
This is our life's work. Join us.
WHY THIS MATTERS
The people of Western Zambia are warm and welcoming. The lives of these men, women and children are set against a backdrop of abuse, abandonment, poverty and a crushing lack of opportunity. They make up the statistics that put Western Zambia as one of the poorest regions of sub-Saharan Africa, with one of the highest rates of female child marriage and little else but subsistence farming to live on.
Despite these insurmountable odds, the women and children of Zambia show infectious optimism and perseverance that inspire us at WISE to do our bit to create economic opportunities through education, agriculture and vocational training.
Little Joseph at Kaoma
We give high school scholarships for at-risk, vulnerable students in remote villages and fund any gaps left by government assistance when they graduate and make it to college. WISE has a 100-acre farm north of Kaoma, Zambia, where we teach beneficial farming practices, and a Women’s Center where vocational training in tailoring and sewing is offered to displaced women.
Our model works. Vulnerable children from remote villages in Zambia, facing the prospect of never completing school and being married well before the age of 18, are now heading to universities to pursue the professions of their choosing. Families are able to have sufficient income to send their younger children to school. And we are just getting started.
We invite you to read more about our work and explore ways you can help.
THE WORK WE DO
Initiated in 2013, the goal of WISE's scholarship program is to reach high-achieving students from the outlying village schools - children who had no hope of going beyond 7th grade. Zambia provides no free education beyond that level and there were very few organizations helping these vulnerable young people, particularly girls, advance to high school. In 2013, we had 20 scholarship students. In 2018, that number has grown to 150.
Our flagship program is our scholarship program, but schools cannot work without buildings and facilities. We will be building a Learning Center on our Kaoma Campus, providing mentoring for our scholarship students and classes for children unable to attend local public schools, such as those with physical disabilities. We are also looking to rebuild the school in Lukulu, where we will house our first satellite women’s center. We also drill boreholes at partner schools to ensure that the students and nearby residents have access to clean water.
Under Women’s Center Director Margaret Mundia and the WISE Trust Board, the Center is currently working on its goals of running vocational programs for women, including training and production in sewing, running the hammermill, hosting workshops and conferences, and agricultural training. Much of this is possible because electricity finally reached the Women’s Center in the fall of 2015. It was a very long wait!
Many single-female-headed households cannot rely on their small plot of land to subsist on agriculture only. We sponsor vocational training for these women, including sewing classes - where they learn to make everything from school uniforms to curtains to shirts and dresses. Since most do not have access to electricity at their homes, we provide these graduates with “rental” sewing machines, or referral to other sewing centers that are nearby.
STORIES THAT INSPIRE
Brian's parents died a year apart when he was in primary school. He earned tuition expenses for middle school in Lusaka by taking a bus to the country, buying bananas and then returning to the city to sell them for a markup at a street corner. But he could not afford high school tuition in the city or in his grandmother's village where he tried selling charcoal and vegetables.
The local primary teacher in the village suggested he apply for a WISE scholarship. Brian walked 26 kms to reach our offices in Kaoma and applied to us. We vetted him and approved his application.
Brian, a WISE scholar, graduated from Kaoma Secondary School in December 2015, second in his class of 600 students! He begins engineering studies at Copperbelt University in Kitwe, Zambia in July 2017.
THERE'S MORE TO BE DONE.
We should not have to turn away worthy students due to lack of scholarships. A learning center in Kaoma will supplement education and serve as the secondary school for victimized children too vulnerable to be placed in local schools. Replicating the Kaoma story at Lukulu 120 kms away, will serve all the villages along this corridor.
Moving forward, WISE plans to expand geographically, including even more remote areas of the Western and Northwestern provinces of Zambia within its programs. Within a few years, WISE hopes to take teams of its own Zambian alumni to areas within Africa with even greater educational challenges like Liberia or South Sudan.
Help us get there. Donate to our programs, host a presentation, volunteer your time, purchase a craft made by the members of the Women's Center, or even travel to Kaoma on a team trip. Every little bit helps and gives back so much more.