Skip to main content

Miracles of Purpose and Community in Zambia

Grace (left) and Elder have been participating in Ben Therapy as a couple for years. After experiencing positive effects from physiotherapy, Elder is now one of the lead volunteers.

Tadala’s smile lights up a room. She is funny, opinionated, and curious. She walks slowly and confidently. She makes friends easily. “Tadala’s story is a miracle,” said Mable Sichali, a deacon in the United Church of Zambia, one of World Renew’s global partners.

Tadala has a cognitive disability and needs assistance with daily tasks like eating and bathing. While her parents desperately wanted to care for her, they also needed to work to support their family, and finding a way to do both seemed impossible. Leaving Tadala in the care of neighbors or bringing her along to work were imperfect solutions, and Tadala became vulnerable to abuse.

The United Nations estimates that children with disabilities are 24 percent more likely to experience physical abuse and neglect than those without. According to Disabled World News, 83 percent of women with disabilities are sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. That number increases for Tadala and others who don’t have access to the resources available in the Global North.

Tadala’s parents heard about Ben Therapy, a physical therapy group for people with disabilities. They began bringing her each week. The program is offered at a local church called Bethlehem Congregation and supported by World Renew.

Tadala is now 13, but when she joined Ben Therapy, she was just 4 years old and unable to walk or talk. “At 13,” Sichali said, “most young ladies in Tadala’s situation would find themselves pregnant. Because she has joined this community, everyone knows her and makes sure she stays safe.”

Urthuan is a young adult in Zambia who has an intellectual disability. He was raised by his grandparents and achieved a grade five education by the time he was 18 years old. As he aged out of formal education, his teachers recommended Ben Therapy.

As Urthuan worked with program therapists, he not only built self-confidence, but grew in coordination and his ability to communicate. His behavior improved dramatically, and soon his grandfather began to trust him with tasks in his carpentry workshop.

After two years with Ben Therapy, Urthuan was selected by church leaders to attend the Chipembi College of Agriculture through a scholarship provided by World Renew. As he gained new skills, Urthuan began to teach his grandfather how to grow crops on his land.

“We need to be a voice for the voiceless, to fight for their rights,” said Chief Chamuka Morgan Kumwenda VI, Ph.D., whose chiefdom encompasses the agricultural college. An advocate for accessibility, Kumwenda is passionate about the school’s program for students with mental disabilities because he sees God’s gifts in every person.

“We should not make decisions for people with disabilities,” Kumwenda said. “People with disabilities should be involved in decision-making in civic life. They have to decide what they want rather than others deciding for them. We should have representation there.”

When communities support every child, whatever their abilities, young people grow in confidence, safety, and purpose. Girls like Tadala are protected from abuse, and men like Urthuan gain marketable skills.

Urthuan is proud of the contribution he is making to his family. “I am happy,” he said, “because I know a lot and I am able to assist my grandfather.”

We Are Counting on You

The Banner is more than a magazine; it’s a ministry that impacts lives and connects us all. Your gift helps provide this important denominational gathering space for every person and family in the CRC.

Give Now