OHFI in Zambia

OHFI work com­menced in Zambia in October 2003 with the estab­lish­ment of our ter­ri­tory partner Open Home Foun­da­tion Zambia (OHFZ).

HomeOur Part­nersOHFI in Zambia

Zambia is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s most highly urbanised countries, while rural areas are under-populated. Unemployment is a serious problem everywhere.

HIV and AIDS remain enor­mous prob­lems, and there is also a preva­lence of many other ill­nesses includ­ing cholera, malaria, mal­nu­tri­tion, and intesti­nal and res­pi­ra­tory infec­tions.  Many chil­dren and young people suffer from inad­e­quate family care in areas of crowded poor housing, bad san­i­ta­tion and water supply. They often do not access any form of education.

OHFI’s work in Zambia is led by Mark Lilema (Free Methodist Church Bishop for Zambia), his wife Mary, and a number of vol­un­teers. Our work in Zambia is broad in scope, and covers a range of projects that are vital for improv­ing the health and edu­ca­tion of local people.

Through OHFZ, OHFI supports:

  • Com­mu­nity empow­er­ment and sus­tain­abil­ity programmes.
  • Social work support for vul­ner­a­ble children.
  • Train­ing in the care and pro­tec­tion of children.
  • Edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­ni­ties for children.
  • Adult edu­ca­tion in life and work skills.
  • Micro-enter­prise development.
  • Health clinics, preg­nancy care, and under 5’s health care in iso­lated hill villages.
  • A com­mu­nity well in Chickencoto.
  • A pre-school/­com­mu­nity meeting place in Chickencoto.
  • Pro­tec­tion of chil­dren from exploita­tion, child labour, traf­fick­ing, and child marriages.
  • Covid-19 relief (food and hygiene packs).
Current Projects:


Misisi is a shanty town/slum area that is home to around 80,000 people, and is one of the most deprived areas in sub-Saharan Africa.

Women’s Microenterprise

OHFI works with many widowed women who care for their own chil­dren and those of others’. Through the devel­op­ment of small microen­ter­prises ‚we can empower these women to support them­selves and provide food, edu­ca­tion and health care for their chil­dren. Groups of women are pro­vided with a seeding money loan to start a small busi­ness, usually road­side stalls offer­ing a variety of prod­ucts.  After the chal­lenges of Covid, we have restarted three groups in 2022, and each group is sup­port­ing more than 100 chil­dren. More groups are ready to start as soon as funding allows.

Youth Support and Tuition Centre

Covid-19 meant school clo­sures for almost two years. Teens and young people had little to do, and there was no money or work for them or their guardians. Misisi Youth Group was started to keep the young people occu­pied and safe.  By the time schools reopened, many stu­dents had no hope of passing exams and return­ing to school. We also started the Tuition Centre to help stu­dents catch up, return to school, and to study for gov­ern­ment exams.

Training in the Care of Children

OHFI train­ing modules in the care and pro­tec­tion of vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren is being deliv­ered to com­mu­nity leaders from across Zambia.


Chikonkoto is a rural village 2.5 hours away from Lusaka. The com­mu­nity is very poor, and sub­sis­tence-focussed. There are four small vil­lages close by which OHFZ also sup­ports as it is able. Social work visits and regular medical clinics are pro­vided for the 1,800 res­i­dents in the area.

Chikonkoto School

The nearest primary school to Chikonkoto is a 4km walk away, with no direct road or public trans­port. This means that for­merly, most chil­dren in the village had no access to edu­ca­tion. But with the support of gen­er­ous New Zealan­ders, we have been able to con­struct a two-class­room exten­sion to their exist­ing preschool, and create Chikonkoto school.

Unfor­tu­nately, Covid-19 lock­downs inter­rupted progress in com­plet­ing and opening the school. Money raised over many years within Zambia for fur­ni­ture, teach­ing resources, and the teacher’s salary had to be redi­rected towards pro­vid­ing vital food and med­i­cines for the com­mu­nity during the pan­demic.  Covid-19 has also meant that fam­i­lies are more reliant than ever on chil­dren working on the land.

With limited resources, the school opened in early 2022. Our Zambian direc­tor runs edu­ca­tion classes for the parents, and makes door-to-door visits in Chikonkoto and neigh­bour­ing vil­lages to encour­age guardians to allow their chil­dren to attend school.

Agriculture Sustainability Project

The village head has donated land next to the school.  With startup support from OHFI, tools and seeds will be pur­chased. We will provide train­ing in agri­cul­tural prac­tices, and even­tu­ally the crops grown will provide food for the village. The surplus will be sold to allow the com­mu­nity to pay the teacher’s salary and other school costs.  We aim to create a sus­tain­able model which pro­vides food, and covers school costs, on an ongoing basis.

Ephraim’s Story

I went to school for two years, but my wife did not go to school. When our son was old enough…

Give to OHFI work in Zambia

Your dona­tion to OHFI’s work in Zambia is deeply appre­ci­ated. Our work spans: Misisi Women’s Microen­ter­prise, in which your dona­tion can provide women with a seeding money loan to start a small busi­ness, sup­port­ing them in pro­vid­ing for their chil­dren; the Misisi Youth Support and Tuition Centre, in which your dona­tion can support stu­dents to progress in their edu­ca­tion; and Misisi Train­ing in the Care of Chil­dren, in which your dona­tion can help OHFI provide impor­tant train­ing for com­mu­nity workers and fam­i­lies in the care of their children.

Dona­tions to Zambia may also go towards Chikonkoto School, in which your dona­tion can help OHFI encour­age parents and chil­dren in school atten­dance, and support school resourc­ing; and the Chikonkoto Agri­cul­ture Project, in which your dona­tion can help pur­chase tools and seeds, and provide train­ing in agri­cul­tural practices.