Muchila, a rural chiefdom in Zambia’s Southern Province, is home to nearly 30,000 people living on remote subsistence farms, most of which lack running water and electricity. During our first visit to the village in 2006, Muchila’s community leaders — elected officials and traditional headmen — provided a comprehensive list of community needs. They identified, in addition to dental care: better access to clean water for people and farm animals; microfinance projects promoting women’s self sufficiency via craftwork; nutritional, educational and medical support for orphaned children; support for schools and local soccer programs; sustainable farming; and a birthing center to improve maternal and child health.
Since then, Options has worked in partnership with the Muchila community, District and National Health officials, Rotary International, individual donors, volunteers and well-wishers to answer the community’s appeal. To date, two new wells are operational, the Penga Ujane women’s club has developed basketry and beading projects for sustainable profit, soccer tournaments have brought the community together and better farming techniques have supplemented nutrition for and supported needy children. In 2011, Options will launch its biggest project yet: a community birthing center to address the needs of women and babies with the aim to improve maternal child health