Beginning with Father Jacek
It all started in 2014. Father Jacek Gniadek SVD, a polish catholic priest of Holy Family Parish in Linda, a suburb of Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, in 2014, shared with members of the Catholic Women’s League what he knew about L’Arche communities worldwide, founded by Jean Vanier in 1964.
First Trip to Harare
Four ladies namely Helen Chimbwali Muchinga, Emma Nthani Kando, Mildred Chivunga Sodala and Foster Lupupa Lumaka took up the challenge, travelled to Harare on 22nd May 2015 and again for a longer stay in October to enable them see for themselves, the experience of staying in such a home.
By the 19th December 2015, they had arranged, for an assistant, from Harare, to come over, for her to speak to a group of young people about “Life of an Assistant in L’Arche”.
Fr David joins us
In April 2015 Father David Harold Barry SJ was transferred from Zimbabwe to Zambia. At any opportune time, the two Priests, Fr Jacek and Fr David talked to the parishioners about homes for people living with and without intellectual disabilities.
At that time, we all met frequently at Father David’s who shared with us his experience of the l’Arche in Zimbabwe. This was our spiritual formation.
Registration, ups and downs
To enable our plans and fund-raising activities have a legal and transparent backing, on 16th May 2016, we sought and received registration for the Trust.
We wrote many letters and hand delivered them, introducing ourselves and explaining our vision, as part of our fund-raising activities. None of these efforts produced any results. Finally, in early 2017 through cake sales and a cash donation from a parishioner from another Parish, we raised some funds and opened a Bank account. We managed in August 2017, to send three would be assistants to Harare for training. Due to a long wait, they found other things to do.
We went through “dry periods” but with the help of Father David we soldiered on. By this time, Father Jacek had already gone back to Poland.
In December 2017, the Irish Embassy in Zambia gave us a moderate donation which we kept in our Bank account. These funds were later used to buy beds and mattresses.
A dream becomes reality
Mid May 2018, on his return from holiday, in Ireland, Father David brought some cash. With these funds on hand, we floated the idea of opening a home in rented premises, which was not ideal. Luckily in October 2018, Global Friends in Action Trust, an organization in which another Jesuit Priest Fr Michael T Kelly SJ is a director bought a house for us. The previous owner only vacated the house in January 2019. The acquiring of this house was one of our greatest joys. It had taken us three years of planning and searching to come this far.
Refurbishment of the house
The house was large enough for our purpose but needed major renovations. Father Michael T Kelly and his team took up all the works. They built a wall fence securing the premises. Inside walls were knocked down and redesigned. The renovations were completed in May 2019 completely transforming the place. Father Kelly’s Office also donated numerous pieces of furniture and equipment. We remain incredibly grateful to this day.
The first core member
The year 2019 started on an exceptionally good note. On 11th January 2019, we received a huge donation, (Euro 5000), equivalent in our local currency to ZMW74,000 at the time, from a UK donor. It was our hope that now that the renovations were over, we would receive our first core members in June, but we met many obstacles with the Department of Social Welfare. Finally, after fulfilling all the requirements, our home was opened on 21st October 2019.
The first two core members were welcomed to our home on 21st October 2019 followed by one the following day.