Why Zambia?

The beauty of  Zambia’s people, land, wildlife and spirit mitigate its poverty and health burdens.  It is a peaceful, democratic country with relative social and political stability.  Options works with local, provincial and national government agencies to ensure that our continuing partnership for sustainable community development aligns with country’s official goals.

Options originated in 2004 when Options’ Chair, Dr. Kerry Maguire, a dentist colleague, Dr. John Morgan, both then on the faculty of Tufts University Dental School, and Kerry’s husband, Dr. Tom Stossel accompanied a group of Tufts dental students who had discovered an opportunity to provide some dental services in Zambia.  The service trip that year to provide dental prevention and treatment introduced the team to the Kasisi Children’s Home in the capitol city, Lusaka.  Options has worked with Kasisi since then and achieved important health improvement there.

The team became enchanted with the beauty of Zambia’s people, land, wildlife and spirit that mitigate its poverty and health burdens.  Zambia is a peaceful, democratic country with many natural resources and relative social and political stability.  Seventy-two tribes promote “One Zambia!” with considerable pride.  Even though each tribe has its own Bantu dialect, the official language is English.  Zambia is relatively safe for foreigners, and the warmth its people, their gracious hospitality and their joy in sharing your company are highlights of every visit.  These attributes resulted in the establishment of Options as a charity and annual or even more frequent return visits over the ensuing 12 years.

During their third visit, the Options group became aware that two Zambias exist. One is an urban core of small and large cities and of mines and agribusiness connected by a road and rail network extending from South Africa and Zimbabwe in the south to Tanzania and the Congo in the north and from Malawi and Mozambique in the east to Angola in the west.

Serving the health needs of this Zambia are government-run hospitals, the largest of which is University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka, mission hospitals and community health centers.

The second Zambia is a vast area of sparsely populated Savannah forest in which reside small villages largely maintained by subsistence farming.  Barely accessible by dirt roads or off-track vehicles in the May – October dry season, many of these villages are unreachable during the rains.

Scattered throughout rural Zambia are small health centers built by local villagers and equipped and staffed by the Ministry of Health.  Hardworking health workers in these locations struggle to provide rudimentary health needs with minimal equipment and supplies, often unaided by electricity or clean water.

A chance encounter brought the Options team to one such village and health center named Muchila in the Southern Province.  There, it learned of the region’s

large menu of community health and other needs in addition to dental care and determined to address as many of them as possible.  Over the next decade, Options’ groups made annual visits in which they operated from camps set up by an outfitter to achieve these goals.

A testimony to Options’ success has been that when the team arrives, an entourage of village women celebrates the occasion with joyous singing and dancing.

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