A group of Gonzaga University students is relying on chickens to expand the school’s relationship with aid organizations in Zambia.
Aubrey Weber, Joe Worthey, Max Bear and Jordan Madrid have formed a group called Hope for Zambezi, which has already raised $25,000 to pay for the construction of chicken coops to help feed people living with HIV/AIDS in the town of Zambezi, Zambia.
Weber and Worthey traveled to Zambezi last year as part of Gonzaga’s study abroad program. She taught computer literacy and he was working with local entrepreneurs.
“It is amazing being there,” Worthey said. “It’s a very poor area. There are no cars, no cattle, no food except the food that comes in on trucks from the city several hours away.”
While in Zambezi, the students met Alex Kalukangu, director and district coordinator for an organization called Number of Zambians Living Positively with HIV/AIDS – or NZP+.
Kalukangu has just arrived on a visit to Spokane, and he will be the keynote speaker at a Hope for Zambezi fundraiser at the Community Building on May 2.
“We are really looking forward to having Alex here and showing him everything,” Weber said.
The chicken coops were Kalukangu’s idea.
He explained to the students that many Zambians living with HIV/AIDS are ostracized and get little or no help from their families.
“Alex wants to build a community center and a food bank in the town,” Worthey said. “They used to have a food bank but it was not sustainable.”
The students said chickens and chicken coops are sustainable even in the poorest areas of Zambezi and it doesn’t take a lot of money to get the project started. The $25,000 the group has raised will sustain the chicken coop project for one year.
Worthey said Zambia has a free national health care system and Zambians have access to the antiviral drugs that battle HIV/AIDS.
“But it doesn’t help much to take the drugs if you don’t have anything to eat,” he said.
Hope for Zambezi is part of the Zags in Zambia program and has received support from the Smith-Barbieri Progressive Fund and professional guidance from Lisa Brown, former Washington State Senate majority leader, and Erik Paulsen, a former Washington state senator.
The student group hopes the chicken coop project in Zambezi will be adopted by future Gonzaga students.
“There are so many problems in Africa,” Madrid said. “We want to really change something. Our project is local and centralized. It will really make a difference.”
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