The childrens’ stories

How the children came to be at St Nicholas

Patrick and Elizabeth are brother and sister. Their father was an electrician working for ZESCO power company. Following the death of their parents, an aunt brought Elizabeth to us and kept Patrick at her home. Elizabeth was always talking about her brother; how she missed and worried about him. Convinced the two should not be separated, Mrs. Passmore talked to the aunt to see about bringing Patrick to the orphanage. She was happy for him to come here. Patrick and Elizabeth are visited by their aunt about once a year.

Jane and Gift are brother and sister. Their parents were staying in the hospice in Chilanga while sick with AIDS. Before his death, the father told the nuns working there to take care of his children. Following the death of both parents, the children stayed at the hospice. They could not stay there very long and were brought to St Nicholas’ Orphanage. During her brief stay at the hospice, Jane had become quite attached to some of the nuns and when she was dropped off she was crying. Since then, though, she has found a happy home here. The orphanage had no contact with any of the children’s relatives until one day when a young woman came by claiming to be the children’s sister and they confirmed this to be true. Gift is very clever and Jane loves to draw pictures.

Maybin came to us as a 9 month old baby. He was driven here by the ambulance carrying his mother, who was dying from AIDS. His father had died before he was born. Two months after Maybin’s arrival his mother died. He started attending nursery school and was doing well. His grandmother used to visit Maybin, until one time when she asked to take him away with her. Mrs. Passmore knew about the grandmother’s situation and decided it would not be good for Maybin to stay with her. The grandmother has not returned to visit since then.

Chipo, Emmanuel, Eunice, Esther and Mofatt are siblings. Emmanuel and Eunice are twins. All of them except Mofatt were staying with their grandmother after their parents died. The grandmother, despite being a very old lady, was taking care of four other children besides them. The children were attending school up until the death of their parents, after which none were able to because the grandmother could not afford it. The grandmother brought Chipo, Emmanuel, Eunice and Esther first. Later, their brother Mofatt was left here by some relatives he had been staying with. They have an older sister (14) who is not at the orphanage because she is married and has a child. Eunice is very bright and is top of her class. This older sister is an example of a common problem: Teenage orphan girls who are not cared for will seek a husband as a means of gaining support.

Sarah is not staying here at the orphanage and never has. She is a young girl living with her aunt doing household chores, and taking care of her aunt’s baby. Her aunt is rarely even at home. Mrs. Passmore visited this home and found the aunt lying down ordering Sarah around. Outside, the baby was lying in the rain, sleeping. Mrs. Passmore advised Sarah to take the baby inside, but she said she didn’t want to, because the baby might start crying. Mrs. Passmore has tried desperately to convince the aunt that Sarah should go to the orphanage, but the aunt refuses.

Edinah is a name that cannot be said without a smile appearing on one’s face. She is – how can one put it? – especially energetic. She is a girl who begs enthusiastically to read a book with her tutor and then while doing so rocks in her chair, chews on a pen, glances out the window almost every minute, and secretly nibbles on a fritter which she is not supposed to have at breakfast. She had been staying with her auntie, but Father Banda could see it was not a good situation and brought her to the orphanage. We know very little about Edinah’s family, nobody has ever come to visit her.

Sandra was brought to our attention by Bishop Mumba’s wife. After her father died, her mother re-married. The new husband did not want to keep Sandra and so she was sent to live with her grandmother. Her grandmother lived on a farm and Sandra had to do chores like fetching water from a distant pump and collecting firewood. She stopped going to school during this time. When she came to the orphanage she only had the clothes on her back and no shoes. Since her arrival Sandra has only been visited twice by her grandmother. The grandmother says it is too far for her sore legs. Sandra is visited about once a year by her mother.

Ruth, Ester and Idah are sisters. Mrs Passmore was told about this family and decided to visit. She found the house very crowded; aunties, uncles, grandmother, older brother (12), plus the three sisters all living together. After the death of their parents the sisters could no longer attend school because of finances. The grandmother was happy for Ruth, Ester and Idah to come to St. Nicholas orphanage. She believes it is very important for children to get an education.

Tendai and Chipo are twin sisters. Following the death of their parents Chipo went to stay with her auntie. She continued to go to school, but her auntie had so many other children to take care of, so Chipo came to Makeni. Meanwhile her sister had gone to live with her uncle on a farm in a remote area. Tendai had never been to school until she came to the Makeni orphanage at the age of 13. She began with grade 3. She found it embarrassing sitting in the classroom, but she pushed on. She received tutoring from Mrs Allen and, despite failing grade 3 the first time, she is now in grade 6 and is a determined student. Tendai is very friendly and loves reading.

Audrey, Bertha and Wisdom are siblings. Their father was a policeman and died when Wisdom was 8, Audrey 11 and Bertha 13. Their mother was a business woman, buying wholesale and selling at an open-air market. She died shortly after the father. These children came from a good home: nice, big house, TV. They would occasionally go for a family picnic at Munda Wanga Gardens. After their parents died, the children stopped attending school and went to stay with their grandparents on a farm. They have a big family, but since the children came to Makeni no one has come to visit them. When Wisdom grows up he wants to be President of Zambia! His sister Audrey has an artistic side.

Abigail was found living out on a farm. Even though she was very small she had to fetch water. After coming to Makeni, the staff noticed that every now and then she would fall without tripping on anything. Other times she would have fits and shake. She was taken to the University Teaching Hospital where she was diagnosed with epilepsy. She is now taking pills daily and doing much better. Occasionally she has times when she seems argumentative and unfriendly, but Mrs. Passmore has explained to her classmates and teachers about her condition.

Following the death of both of his parents, James lived briefly with his grandparents and then came to Makeni at the age of 8. Initially, James was timid and never used to play or even smile; he was very withdrawn. Mrs. Passmore took him to see a psychiatrist, where he got a prescription for more love. Now he is doing much better; it is like night and day. He smiles, plays with friends, and is a good reader. He is very seldom visited, but is distantly related to one of the nannies, Mary.

Peter remained at home after his sister was placed in Makeni orphanage. His grandmother was taking care of multiple orphaned children and working full time at the market across from Makeni Centre. Peter was not attending school and was roaming the streets playing with friends all day. Later he was united with his sister at the orphanage.

Daniel was seven when his father died in 1995 of ”Malaria” (actually, more likely AIDS). His mother sold fruits and vegetables at the local market. His mother died in 2000, and Daniel was taken care of by his auntie. He stopped going to school for about a month because his auntie could not afford the fees. Then he came to the Makeni orphanage in 2001 and continued school. He has three older brothers who live in Chawama. He is visited by them quite frequently. His favourite subject in school is geography, and if he could visit any country in the world it would be Germany. His passion in life is football, his favourite team is Arsenal and when he grows up he wants to be a professional football player, or failing that, an engineer.

Evelyn was one of the first to arrive at St Nicholas orphanage. She was 8 when her mother died. Her father, who was a policeman, died 2 years later. After this she lived in Mwombeshi with her older sister who was in her 30s at the time. Her sister could not afford school fees, so Evelyn was brought to the orphanage. She is visited about five times a year by family. She is now in grade 9 and doing well. She plans to finish school, and then begin training as an accountant (she likes maths). Evylen enjoys playing volleyball for fun.

About Makeni Webmaster

I spent most of my youth in Makeni, growing up at the centre as it emerged from the bush, one building at a time. I now work in the UK as a lecturer in computer science.
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