This is because of what the old lady is doing for the vulnerable little children in Kitwe. From her meagre resources, Ms Chikosa started an orphanage to help care for them.
Yes! With nothing serve for her commitment and passion of helping vulnerable people especially children feel appreciated, Ms Chikosa, a retired Kitwe City Council (KCC) police officer took it upon herself to start an orphanage.
All what Ms Chikosa needed in starting the orphanage was some little retirement benefits and her home in Chimwemwe Township.
Ms Chikosa has named her orphanage Mama Waluse for reasons this author came to understand and appreciate during the week when he was extracting information for this very article.
By the way, last Tuesday’s encounter with Ms Chikosa was our second time having first met some three days earlier on Saturday when the Northern Region Media Club to which the author is member, made a donation of foodstuffs comprising mealie meal, cooking oil, sugar, beans and kapenta to the orphanage.
The name Mama Waluse which translated in English means‘Mother of Mercy’ perfectly suits the orphanage because there is no doubt that the centre came into being because of Ms Chikosa’s passionate love for vulnerable children.
Ms Chikosa’s love and mercy for vulnerable children saw her visiting street kids whom she would extend a giving hand each time she had some bit of money in her pockets when she was in employment.
“Sometimes when I got paid, I would go beyond that by going to the social welfare department where I would ask to be given a list of vulnerable people from which I would pick some to donate to,” Ms Chikosa said.
Ms Chikosa’s life history spurns back to 1946 when she was born in Kasama and in her early childhood moved to Kitwe.
She started work at KCC in 1978, first as a constable and was later moved to what she referred to as intelligence section where she was now no longer required to put on council police uniform but civilian clothes until she retired in 2001.
It was however, during her service in the council that Ms Chikosa identified herself with orphanage work.
“The idea for an orphanage I would say was born in me when I was doing patrols during my service in the council.
“During night patrols as sometimes was the case we would find children sleeping in corridors and that used to make me grieve especially at the thought that these were children like any other in normal home setups,” she said.
Ms Chikosa said when she retired in 2001, she continued with charity work of helping vulnerable children and remembered vividly how on one occasion she instantly gave three students a total of K2,000 towards their school fees soon after getting part of her retirement benefits.
“Those days when we were retiring, the council used to pay retirement packages piecemeal. Becuase I needed a reasonable amount to fix my home, I went to Mr Ali Simwinga, then town clerk whom I pleaded with to give me something reasonable and that was how I got K4,500,” Ms Chikosa said.
She said upon getting that amount of money, she came across three children at the social welfare department who she found crying because they had been chased for reasons that they had some balance to clear.
“Two of the students had a balance of K1,000 each and the third owed a K50 only and when I saw them crying, I got the money from my K4,500 and gave them and this amused people at the social welfare,” she said.
Ms Chikosa said it was for this that the Social Welfare Department’s confidence in her grew that they even gave her the blessings to start an orphanage.
She said in 2003, with the endorsement of the Social Welfare Department she started an orphanage first with 13 children who she picked from the street.
“I started with 13 children who I picked from the streets but 10 of them went back and that left me with three,” she said.
Ms Chikosa said soon after that, she embarked on a mission of identifying orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) around the neighbourhood of Chimwemwe and that without financial assistance, she went on to transform her Chimwemwe home, house number 6378 into an orphanage, which she has continued to use up to date.
“This was how I setup this orphanage which now has 48 children who most of them are orphaned by the scourge of HIV/AIDS,” Ms Chikosa said.
Ms Chikosa said in view of this, she was having a challenge of looking for food supplements to support that anti-retroviral medication for the affected children especially that the orphanage did not have a stable and reliable donor.
“Currently we do not have a reliable donor so the orphans face problems like transportation especially during the rainy season, lack of school uniforms, shoes, books and other basic necessities,” Ms Chikosa said.
In raising school fees for the children who are in various grades ranging from grade one to 12, Ms Chikosa goes round with school forms for children soliciting sponsorship.
“What I do is when a child is in grade eight or ten, I collect the acceptance form and look for a sponsor and when they give me money for fees I return the receipt to the sponsor,” she said.
Ms Chikosa, however, was thankful to a number of companies and individuals for the support rendered to the children at the orphanage.
Among those she named were Zambeef that supplies them with 10 kilogrammes of meat every Friday, Ceres Bakery for bread and burns every week and Sandvik.
Others were Jamira Kibombo from Amazon Security, Mirriam Miyamba from Panorama Security, Rajiv Patel from Mama Africa, Mollen from Pro Earth, Oscart Engineering and a Mr and Mrs Chibowa.