Voices from the Field: Journeying Together, Zambia
Martin Silutongwe shares his experience working as Project Manager of the Journeying Together programme in the Western Cluster of Zambia and what motivates him to continue working for Edmund Rice Mission.
I became involved with Edmund Rice Mission in August of 2016 following my work as a Country Director with an international faith-based organisation. I learned about the community engagement work Edmund Rice Mission initiated in one of the poorest provinces of Zambia, and was attracted by the values, particularly the four liberating goals listed below. I desired to be part of this life transforming experience. I was subsequently hired as Project Manager for the Journeying Together project in the Western Cluster of Zambia.
- Presence: Living among the poor and vulnerable people has enabled the Brothers to learn the local language and culture and experience community life. This is unlike ‘development tourism’ and avoids a paternalistic tendency.
- Engagement: By living among the poor and authentically experiencing community life and customs, the Brothers were able to develop respectful partnerships with the poor. This approach led to impassioned participation of the poor in program development and implementation.
- Empowerment: Understanding that individuals in vulnerable communities have untapped or undeveloped potential, the Journeying Together programme provides opportunities for functional education in various contextually relevant thematic areas.
- Transformation: The missionary approach espoused by Edmund Rice Mission provides an opportunity to work with local people in transforming unproductive attitudes, behaviours and practices.
My favourite memory working in the project is observing the hope emerging in the lives of both vulnerable young people and adults, as well as those previously affected by social exclusion. Young people who thought their livelihoods depended on risk behaviour or ‘getting a husband’ at an early age, have taken advantage of functional educational opportunities and have made healthier life choices. The socially excluded saw greater support from others, including trained caregivers and personnel from the Ministry of Health. With an in-depth awareness of the level of suffering, and intense vulnerability amongst people made poor in Africa, and Zambia in particular, I am impassioned and motivated to see tangible and measurable change in the communities I serve.