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Sunday, November 22, 2020


In a world beset by problems, many of which are currently being caused by the Corona virus, life goes on as best it can, though for a great many people living in poverty in various locations across the globe, the virus only exacerbates their daily grind. One such place is the southern Zambian city of Livingstone, situated just a couple of miles from the Zimbabwean border and the world-famous Victoria Falls. Despite the fact that the Victoria Falls are on the city's doorstep, many of the city's 143000 people live perilously close to, if not well under, the poverty line.

However, a number of NGOs are operating in Zambia's Southern Province, of which Livingstone is the capital, one of which is New Hope Waves, a Zambian-registered non-profit organisation which is doing its best to raise some of Livingstone's poorest inhabitants out of poverty, and their spirits, too, with football playing a role in the latter.

The man behind the organisation is 37-year-old Auldridge Chibbwalu, a social worker trained in Developmental Studies, both locally and abroad, and who has created and run a number of community programmes aimed principally at children, young people and their wider family-circles. According to Chibbwalu, New Hope Waves "is working to empower the local communities with skills, knowledge and opportunities to improve their livelihood, health, education and protecting their environment."

But what of the organisation itself, and its name? Chibbwalu: "The name New Hope Waves comes from the desire to create “New Hope”, and “Waves” comes from momentum (water movement)  aimed at the vulnerable communities which are characterized by poverty, illiteracy, disease and which need to [obtain] the skills, knowledge and opportunities to empower themselves to [live] with dignity."

New Hope Waves has been as good as its word right from the start, and works with all age groups to not only ensure that school-age youngsters receive a proper education, but that the elderly are assisted. Auldridge: "In 2015, we decided to register this movement as an NGO (non-profit organization) in Zambia, then started working with schools to assign some volunteers who would teach mainly in community schools, train the kids in football activities and also work with [a local] old people's home..We have even partnered with other international organizations to engage young people in fine arts, digital storytelling, prevention of gender based violence, inter-cultural exchange activities and an  environmental care programme.

"After I acquired the necessary education and training, I had some opportunities to travel and work for a number of non-profit organizations both locally and internationally. Then, I was inspired to come up with activities in the community to keep children and young people involved. Later, I started some football and life skills programs for both girls and boys to keep them away from drug and illicit activities in their vulnerable communities, and these grew with the help of both local and international volunteers.

"In 2019, we started a school for vulnerable children from the ages of 4-15 years old whose parents cannot manage to take them to normal school due to lack of school fees so we have 100 students in our school.

"Most of the project`s areas is to help the under-30s who are our major focus, and for those [over the age of 30] we just try to offer a hand to make our approach to be more holistic."

One example of this holistic approach is the work carried out by a  number of the organisation's volunteers at an old people's home, which is also based in Livingstone. Many of those staying at the home are originally from small rural communities in the Livingstone area, but ended up in the city because they had no family and so were unable to look after themselves.

 "The volunteers work there for two to three hours per day, five days a week," says Chibbwalu. The volunteers do not stay there overnight, but instead stay at our rented volunteer house and we have different people that sign up to volunteer. Some of them are professional care-givers and the rest are non-professional helpers. Many of the volunteers assist at meal-times, while others help out with personal grooming and hygiene." 

New Hope Waves also tackles societal problems such as gender equality, violence in the home and assists the local LGBT community where possible. Chibbwalu says that the organisation runs a number of gender equality courses aimed at raising the issues our communities are facing, such as gender based violence in homes and child abuse, and we are able to help the LGBT community as it is a very sensitive legal and moral issue here in Zambia."

"We are able to help the local LGBT community by opening up our activities to them all to participate. The problem is that they suffer from discrimination and a lack of support, so we need to raise awareness of their plight, and also of their right, like any other human being, to access services, resources and opportunities."

Auldridge also spoke about the problems faced by women the length and breadth of Zambia; in many cases, a woman's lot is far from a happy one, but his organisation are taking steps to change that.

 "Apart from [domestic] violence, women here face challenges such as unwanted pregnancies, early marriages, gender inequality, child abuse - child defilement is on the rise - mental and sexual abuse. Negligence in the family [is also a problem] as some families cannot support their extended family's children."

This has led to a growing number of children having to take to the streets in order to fend for themselves; others end up leaving school, or receive no formal education at all, and eventually have to work in order to support their families. Still others find themselves becoming the head of the household.

"A number of children cannot go to schools as their families cannot afford to pay their school fees, so the children - mostly girls - drop out of school. There is a lack of employment prospects for senior boys and girls between the ages of 16 and 25, so we intend to provide vocational skills to empower them to have hands-on skills to make them employable [or to start their own businesses] to earn enough money to support their lives now and to give them a bright future."

Inevitably, some people are falling through the safety net that New Hope Waves is trying to provide, as Chibbwalu explained. "We had some adult education courses in the past, but due to a lack of resources and funding, we are currently unable to offer any. We have also helped some of those [living locally] who are physically and mentally disabled, but due to limited funding and resources, we are [currently] unable to continue down that path. But, we are ready to do so whenever we have partners who might come on board with the materials and resources to help us."

A lack of funds is also hampering Chibbwalu and his organisation's attempts to purchase premises where they can not only offer an education to school-age youngsters, but also vocational training and a place where women, LGBT and other groups can meet in safety; they have their eye on a particular building which would serve their needs, but they must raise some US$20000 in order to buy it, so donations would be very welcome indeed.

New Hope Waves even hope to host football training-sessions at the proposed new location and, should they succeed in purchasing the building they have set their heart on, they will need all the room they can get. According to Auldridge, "we have more than 200 boys and girls involved in our football programs and we have six people involved in teaching/coaching. All six are local volunteers who have the passion to coach, and to have a positive impact on the lives of young people. At the moment, we do not have any coaches coming from abroad to help."

The organisation has a number of teams, mostly for males as there is no local youth league for girls under the age of thirteen. But, there is a New Hope Waves adult women's team and a team for girls aged between 13 and 17, in addition to a adult men's team; both senior teams cater for players aged between 17 and 25. Around 150 young people play in the New Hope Waves teams. All of the teams play in kit which has been donated or sold to the organisation at a large discount.

Chibbwalu explained: "We have a senior boys team playing in the local SPAFA (Southern Province Amateur Football Association) Super League, which has more than 20 local teams in the urban and rural areas in and around Livingstone. The team was founded in 2016, and we currently have about 35 boys in the squad, but the season was suspended to due to Covid-19 in March.

"We do not have a stable source for the football kits, they were donated by individuals once in a while and sometimes when we have funds, we buy them (good new or used kits), and so we are currently in need of football kits to use for the season that restarted in the last week for the senior team." The SPAFA Super League may have restarted, but the New Hope Waves side had to sit out the first weekend back after an eight-month hiatus as their opponents had to request a postponement. The local women's season is yet to resume, meanwhile.

"We are playing some football matches at the Namatama Primary School Football Ground in Maramba, a district of Livingstone. Our football plans are to engage more girls and boys in our programmes, to get more soccer equipment and also to make our teams to play in the higher professional leagues. We want to to support these young people to achieve more in their social, academic and professional lives, and the football team to have a good financial base so that it can support our all football activities such as transport (buying a club bus) for players for games, match officiating, affiliation fees and administration costs, etc."

To do that, they will need outside help, as times are no less hard in Zambia than they are anywhere else, and the majority of the population are far from well-off. But, Auldridge Chibbwalu and the rest of the team involved in New Hope Waves are nothing if not driven; they started off with the hopes and dreams of one man and they have come a long way since then. With a bit of luck - and some outside assistance - they may yet come to fruition.


AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks to Auldridge Chibbwalu for his kind assistance with the above article, and for his corrections and additions. To donate to New Hope Waves, or to find out more about the work they do and their aims and objectives, kindly visit their website via the following link:

All photographs are published with the kind permission of New Hope Waves, and written consent was kindly given to use those photographs containing under-age footballers. Anyone wishing to use said photographs is requested to contact New Hope Waves via the above website.

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