Society Matters | Volume 33 No. 1 | Autumn 2023

5 Volume 33 No. 1 | Autumn 2023 Society Matters The SVD in Zambia • Located in southern Africa, Zambia is a land-locked country. • The country was born when the British colony of Rhodesia became the independent nation of Zambia in 1964. • After some years of one-party rule, recent elections have been deemed free and fair although the harassment of opposition parties and other political turmoil continues. • The population of Zambia is 17 million. Among these, 95.5 per cent are Christians (Catholics being 20.2 per cent), Muslims 1 per cent, Hindus, Bahai, Buddhists 1.7 per cent and those without religious affiliation are 1.8 per cent of the population. • The majority of Zambians are subsistence farmers. • The literacy rate is 70.9 per cent for males and 56 per cent for females and life expectancy is just 52.7 years. • Zambia was erected as an SVD Mission in 2014, separating it from the Botswana Province. The SVD focus is on primary evangelisation in the dioceses where they are present. Family and youth are also areas of priority, along with enhancing the biblical apostolate and mission animation. • In their Mission Statement, the SVDs in Zambia say they “strive to share in the daily dreams and struggles of our people”. • The main ministries of the Zambia Mission are parish pastoral formation, education, social ministry and prison ministry. • There are lay partners established in three SVD parishes. • Issues of concern in the area of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation include deforestation, rampant mining, poor waste management, conservation of water, and energy. • Challenges around communication exist, as access to the internet is expensive and service is inconsistent compared with other countries. “We intend to help them in providing food and the basic necessities of life,” he says. The SVD food relief program provides needy parishioners with such staples as cooking oil, rice and soap and is intended to help the most vulnerable and those hit hardest. Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish is another parish assisting its parishioners, many of whom are elderly following the pandemic. The parish is situated about 8km from Kabwe Town and has a population of around 2,600 people. “The economic situation of the community is difficult. Most of the parishioners are engaged in small farming, growing maize and vegetables for their own consumption,” Fr Rajesh says. “Many of them are retirees, widows and widowers, taking care of their children and orphaned relatives. “This area has many social problems, such as unemployment, alcoholism, teenage pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, broken marriages, environmental degradation and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The SVD in Zambia also have projects underway focused on education for vulnerable children, social assistance for families and empowering girls and women. “Of course, I’m offering the course free of charge. But the measurable impact shows that the project is worthwhile and will improve the livelihood of the young people and their families in the village of Sankhomphatthana.”