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.