ZAMBIA: Work begins on new chapel to benefit community
Donors from Salesian Missions fund new St. Mary’s Parish chapel project in Kabwe.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Oct. 18, 2021) Work has begun on a new chapel for St. Mary’s Parish, located in the village of Nambe in Kabwe, Zambia, thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. The previous chapel was in dire need of repair because of its thatched roof and rotting, hazardous asbestos tiles from the original construction. The older structure was also too small for the growing Catholic community.
St. Mary’s Parish has four village chapels where priests meet people on weekly basis for catechesis, prayers and sacraments. During the weekdays, the Salesian community utilizes these chapels for daily meetings and fellowship. Local women also use the chapels as meeting places and children’s pre-schools.
The villages lack basic services including water, proper sanitation and transportation. There is also a lack of education facilities for children, and people travel long distances to access a health center.
The copper mines that were once in the town of Kabwe have been shut down for more than two decades leaving many people unemployed. The current source of livelihood is subsistence farming, which does not pay much. Salesians are unable to address all of these social-economic challenges but do provide a source of support and assistance when possible.
Once the chapel is repaired and enlarged, more people will be able to attend services and meet as a community. Children will be able to use it as a community school, and older youth will be able to take classes in the space. The local community has sprung to action to help with the construction by digging the foundation, drawing water for construction and engaging in labor jobs.
“We appreciate our donors who have been able to help Salesians in Kabwe with this chapel project,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “The chapels in these villages are a central part of these communities for people to learn, find spiritual guidance and support one another.”
Poverty is widespread in Zambia with 64 percent of the total population living below the poverty line. For those living in rural areas, the poverty rate rises to 80 percent, according to UNICEF. Over the past three decades, incomes in Zambia have fallen steadily and people do not have enough money to meet basic needs such as shelter, nutritious food and medical care.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has also taken a devastating toll on Zambia’s children. There are 1.2 million children classified as orphaned and vulnerable by UNICEF, and these children struggle to find education, basic services and hope for their future.
### Contact: [email protected]