Zambian student has big plans to improve health care

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Lweendo “Lulu” Siamaambo
Lweendo “Lulu” Siamaambo

Lweendo “Lulu” Siamaambo, a freshman nursing major at John Brown University, is driven to improve health care in her home country, Zambia.

Siamaambo says that, as a nurse in her country, she wants to work with infants and pregnant women because of their high mortality rates.

According to 2014 data from the CIA World Factbook, Zambia has the 17th highest infant mortality rate in the world, with an estimated 66.62 deaths per 1,000 live births per year of infants under the age of one. In comparison, the U.S. has an estimated 6.17 deaths per 1,000 live births, about 10 times less than in Zambia.

As for mothers, Zambia ranks 26 out of 184 countries in maternal mortality rate, according to 2010 CIA World Factbook data. It is estimated that 440 Zambian women die due to pregnancy out of every 100,000 live births. This mortality rate is about 21 times higher in Zambia than in the U.S.

Siamaambo said that high mortality rates are connected to poor health care in her country. She explained that, in a hospital, there might be only one doctor, who could see up to 100 patients per day. Being understaffed, nurses may do the doctor’s job, even if they’re not qualified.

Accessibility is an issue as well.

“Some people walk more than 10 days to come to a hospital,” Siamaambo said.

Siamaambo said some women go their entire pregnancies without seeing a doctor, either because they can’t afford to go to the hospital or are afraid of lack of privacy and physical abuse.

“The nurses in Zambia have a reputation of being mean,” Siamaambo said.

Besides poor medical care, pregnant women may face malnutrition, unclean drinking water, or HIV/AIDS.

Siamaambo said that, in her country, “being pregnant is pretty much a death sentence.”

When pregnant women die, any surviving children may be orphaned. According to 2013 data from UNICEF, Zambia has an estimated 1.4 million orphans, of which about 600,000 are orphaned due to AIDS.

Over Christmas break, Siamaambo, her husband and five children traveled to Zambia to visit family. There Siamaambo helped care for children at her mother’s orphanage called Haven.

Siamaambo’s mother, Cecilia Siafwiyo Kalulu, started Haven when she came across a burial where a live child was being buried with his mother. Siamaambo explained that, in Zambia, it is customary to bury a newborn with its mother, since the child has almost no chance of living without her.

Kalulu commanded that the baby be taken out of the burial hole and began to care for him. After that, people started bringing infants to her door, and an orphanage was founded in her home.

Siamaambo said she gets her passion to make a difference from her mother. Besides becoming a nurse and working to improve the health care system from the inside, Siamaambo hopes to raise awareness by making a documentary.

Siamaambo, her husband, Andrew Kumalo, and Kumalo’s older brother, Jason Kumalo, are working together on this plan. Andrew Kumalo said the documentary will bring attention to Zambia’s high infant mortality rate while also showing how the people of Haven orphanage are saving lives.

“It’s one of those things that, if you’re not in it, a lot of people just don’t care,” Andrew Kumalo said of Zambia’s infant mortality rate.

Kumalo also hopes to use the documentary to promote Haven and show donors how their money is helping.

Kumalo said the finished documentary is still several years away. Documentaries can take up to a year or two to shoot, and this documentary is still in the planning stage, he said. However, it is in progress.

Kumalo arrived in Zambia on Wednesday, April 15 and plans to be back in the states Saturday, May 2. He said his goals for this trip are to see family and begin working out the logistics for filming.

“My next thing, when I go home, is where we can start and what permissions we need,” Kumalo said.

Credit -http://advocate.jbu.edu/?q=node/1567
Aliya Kuykendall / Photography by Chance Easter

18 COMMENTS

  1. Lweendo stop telling lies where in Zambia do they bury live children, if you want to beg for money to help your mother’s orphanage do that but don’t you dare your country’s name,just because of money you can stand so low.you a disgrace to mother zambia

  2. What a liar you are. Please present facts to back up your stories, coz yes they are stories! Are u really that desperate for money? And who in Zambia do u think will want to work with you after this story? Madam, please stick to facts, do not exaggerate issues just to get attention. Yes, we lack certain amenities and need better service but not to that point. How come you are alive if the situation is that deteriorated? Just do your thing truthfully, GOD is seeing you and your selfish heart

  3. The distance that scares me is between you and reality. You are taking Kalomo and calling it Zambia. Your story may have some truth to it, but gets twisted when you say “babies are buried alive.” it turns bogus and hard to sell not even to fellow Zambians. Thank God your brother is a live and adult now over 23 years old, stop using him as a sympathy card. We all have stories to tell, though we don’t seek sympathy to get funding.
    You are a freshman and yes, you have a lot to learn on how to write YOUR story. You lose the message and reader by generalizations and exaggerations; granted the health care system is far from being acceptable. Its un- ethical to tell lies to suit your needs especially in a profession you are trying to pursue. Next time you feel like telling lies, block people that know you atleast. People know Haven was not founded by your mother. So if you are not forthcoming with simple truths, which part of YOUR story is true? mmmh…

  4. Lweendo, stop it! Just stop! I don’t know whether this is a way of raising funds for the orphanage you pointed out or for nursing school fees, or whatever it is you are trying to do (for yourself) in Zambia. What I know is that I have not heard of burying people alive since the time of Shaka Zulu. Stop painting Zambians to be barbaric! To those that published this article, did you do your research? Please next time don’t publish annoying pieces of information before you establish truth in them! To those thinking about donating please do your research before you put your money into this! If you find truth in it, please give as much as you feel like, but first and foremost, research!

  5. If I were you my sister highlight hunger and malnutrition not the lies you are telling about our country. I spend my time working with rural . I take the donars to site so that the need is seen through there eyes and not mine and help where they see the need . Please take my advise and don’t use blatant lies or sugar coat your story to get aid. Sober up sis

  6. My dear, no one from Zambia is believing your story other than the people you are conning. Why can’t you just do it in an honest way. No where in zambia are babies buried with a dead mother. Please stop it!!

  7. I’m sorry that most of you feel the way you do. This article was not about asking for money . It’s about improving health in zambia. Yes , my brother David was rescued from a grave because the family didn’t have money to take care of him. His twin brother had already died of hunger. I was raised with orphans. It’s good to know.that this is not any of u stories but this is MY Story. Last yr I came home My little 17 yr old brother had to jump over bodies in the morgue take my little baby orphan andrew buried on top of other bodies. My kid brothers dig Graves to bury those babies. Yes this is me. I’m zambian and this is my story. Please if u have a chance go visit namwianga and see how much death surrounds us. Maybe u will have a change of heart. Just because it’s not your story doesn’t mean its Not happening. This is what I will die doing. I will work hard to improve the health care so mothers don’t have to die at a rate they are in country. God bless u all

    • Be consistent – your initial story was not about the state of the morgue in Zambia which most Zambians would agree needs serious attention and the same can be said about the hospitals. Were your your kid brothers paid grave diggers or they were burying abandoned bodies? Not that it matters for in Zambia, we generally bury our own – i.e neighbor, churches etc all chip in if burial is not already paid for hence it is had to imagine your brothers just burying bodies!
      You have failed to substantiate the 3 statements I pointed out from your article in your reply!

    • Interesting to see how you have now changed stories. Don’t try to con us We are not fools Mune.

      Try other ways of making money.

    • and You are such a Liar. Haven was started by You Husbands Father and not Your Mother.

      So you think that people don’t know your Family?

  8. Some statements!
    -Some people walk more than 10 days to come to a hospital
    -being pregnant is pretty much a death sentence.
    -it is customary to bury a newborn with its mother, since the child has almost no chance of living without her

    Why am I not surprised that at the end of the article, it all comes down to requesting for funding. It is callous statements like these that in the long run turns away people with good intentions to help. I have heard such pleas for donor funding before and this one falls in the same group as the other guy a few years ago who was pleading for emergency donor help because apparently somewhere in Zambia, there was so much hunger such that people were eating there children!

  9. If you want to continue soliciting funds from donors for the orphanage please do so by all means without calling something that may have, or may not have happened and blanket it as ‘customary’. Whose custom? What happens to the baby meantime before burial? Is it starved because it, after all, will be buried alive with the mother? Where is the evidence?

    We have a lot of examples of people (children/orphans) that have been brought up by extended family (my own mother included) where the mother died during childbirth, or immediately after, and these people have done it without gaining any mileage out of it! Contrary to your assertions, this is the norm, and not what you want to call ‘customary’. It is normal to grow up with orphaned cousins, or distant relatives in households who are treated no less than biological children by their adoptive parents following the death of a biological parent. Please find another value proposition to appeal to donors for funds without making us all out to be barbaric by your self coined custom.

    Yours is a classic case of “mwana ni ndombyo” loosely translated: use a child/baby to beg (for food), so you as a an adult can also derive a benefit (eat)! It is well worth noting that you’re doing a good deed in taking care of these orphans, but just do not take away from a noble cause by portraying, and perpetuating a one off instance (if it indeed did happen) as a custom to appeal emotionally to potential donors (your customers). Your motivation is brought to question.

  10. If you want to continue soliciting funds from donors for the orphanage please do so by all means without calling something that may have, or may not have happened and blanket it as ‘customary’. Whose custom? What happens to the baby meantime before burial? Is it starved because it, after all, will be buried alive? Where is the evidence?

    We have a lot of examples of people (children/orphans) that have been raised by extended family (my own mother included) where the mother died during childbirth, or immediately after, and these people have done so without gaining any mileage out of it! This is the norm, and not what you want to call ‘customary’. Contrary to your assertions, it is normal to grow up with orphaned cousins, or distant relatives in households who are treated no less than biological children by their adoptive parents following the death of a biological parent. Please find another value proposition to appeal to donors for funds without making us all out to be barbaric by your self coined custom.

    Yours is a classic case of “mwana ni ndombyo” loosely translated: use a child/baby to beg (for food), so you as a an adult can also benefit (eat)! It is well worth noting that you’re doing a good deed in taking care of these orphans, but just do not take away from a noble cause by portraying, and perpetuating a one off instance (if it indeed did happen) as a custom to appeal emotionally to potential donors (your customers). It puts your motivation into question.

  11. Hello, if you want to crook some donors for your mum’s orphanage please do it without tarnishing the image of your country. I do understand that the situation cannot compare to the US but you have wrong data here. Burying the child with the dead mum?

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