Pictured: Three-year-old Kunda, Ndola, Zambia.
At just 3, Kunda is already an outcast in his community. His neighbors laugh at him, and call him names. They throw garbage in his yard, and won’t let him go near their homes. It’s too much for someone who is so young—whose life has barely begun.
Kunda and his siblings, Lucy and Jackson, were all under the age of five when their father was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Shortly after his sentence, their mother abandoned them, too.
Their grandmother, Payder, is now their primary caretaker.
Kunda, Lucy, and Jackson live in Nkwazi, one of the poorest, most densely populated communities in Ndola, Zambia. During the day, they scavenge for food as they wait for Payder to come home from the market where she sells vegetables. In the evening, Payder brings a pack of maize to cook a meal.
Pictured: Nkwazi, a rural community in the north of Ndola, has some of the poorest living standards in Zambia. Here, neighborhood children eat their evening meal.
Payder puts on a brave face to encourage her grandchildren, but she knows they need more than what she is able to provide. She simply cannot earn enough for food, let alone clothing and school supplies. Payder says in private moments she cries out to God for help.
“[I tell God] not to let me down. I ask Him for wisdom on how I will [take care of] the children.”
Perhaps most heartbreaking is the stigma attached to the Kunda and his siblings. When a parent goes to prison, their children suffer most. They not only endure the loss of a provider, but the rejection of family, friends, and community. Because their father is a prisoner, they have been deemed unworthy. Neighbors mock them, and they are the victims of vicious rumors, rejection, and even hate crimes.
“Once, we found a dead dog dumped inside [our house],” says Payder. “Sometimes we would find garbage strewn about. Neighbors called our home a garbage dump. Others called it a toilet. But I still call it a home.”
When the rainy season comes, every December through March, the little family’s home—a dilapidated mud hut—cannot protect them from the downpours.
Pictured: A mud-brick house with a makeshift roof in Ndola, Zambia.
“When the rains come at night, our roof leaks so badly I have to grab the children and rush outside,” says Payder.
They would huddle under a tree until the rains let up.
Once Kunda was enrolled in our child sponsorship program, the family’s situation improved. Our sponsorship team visits Kunda regularly to ensure he and his siblings are well-fed, able to go to school, and they help provide any safety repairs to the family’s home.
Sadly, their neighbors continued to taunt.
“People in the community laughed at us, saying, ‘[These people] will not repair your home. That’s a lie!'” says Payder.
But the family persisted in their faith.
“I said since God is there, and He watches over these children He will never fail us,” says Payder. “And that’s when our house was rebuilt. I pray my new home is not only a safe and dry place for my family,” says Payder, “but a place of light and community for others.”
Pictured: Kunda and his sister Lucy play outside their new home, built through the assistance of Prison Fellowship Zambia and the child sponsorship program.
Life continues to improve the Kunda and his family. They enjoy regular walks to the Prison Fellowship Zambia office, where they pick up their monthly food and school supplies, and clothing. They family is also connected with a local church and attends a weekly, community Bible study for families of prisoners, where they can learn about God, make new friends, and find acceptance.
Pictured (L–R): Lucy, Kunda, and Payder pose outside their new home—a welcoming "place of light" for the community.
Help a child like Kunda experience hope for the future.