LINDA NYONDO, Lusaka
IT SEEMED like a far-fetched dream, but thanks to People’s Process on Housing and Poverty, Brenda Tembo, 29, is now the owner of a house in an area called 15 Miles in Chibombo.
Ms Tembo, who is a resident of Matero East in Lusaka, has been struggling to find money to pay rentals and to also buy food for her family.
“I have been struggling in my business, paying rentals has been a nightmare, but thank God I am now a landlord, I own a house,” she said.
Ms Tembo’s transformation from a tenant to a landlord started when she joined Swalisano women’s savings group, which is a capital fund scheme and health savings scheme.
The group advocates for decent, suitable and habitable shelter for vulnerable people.
The Swalisano groupings, which are coordinated by People’s Process on Housing and Poverty, acquires land from respective local authorities which is sold to vulnerable people in different parts of Zambia.
The groups are organised in regions and coordinators of the regions are charged with the responsibility of acquiring land, which is sold out to members at an affordable price.
Ms Tembo bought her land in Chibombo district at a place known as 15 Miles at a cost of K5,700.
She liquidated the K5,700 loaned to her towards the purchase of the plot in instalments over a period of three years.
Ms Tembo and 11 others who benefited from the purchase of the land in Chibombo also paid another K3,000 to have their land surveyed.
She and the other 11 beneficiaries of the Chibombo housing project, however, got stark after processing all the requirements for the land.
All they needed was money to start constructing their houses, but all the beneficiaries of the Chibombo land did not have money to start constructing houses.
Fortunately, People’s Process on Housing and Poverty partnered with companies and Alliance partners to start a campaign dubbed ‘Buy a brick’.
The ‘Buy a brick’ campaign, which was spearheaded by the patron, President Edgar Lungu, was successful because many organisations and individuals come on board to buy a brick or bricks.
People’s Process on Housing and Poverty borrowed money from a bank on behalf of the Chibombo land owners to allow them to build houses.
The organisation also facilitated construction of houses for all the 12 land owners and they have since handed over the houses to the beneficiaries.
Ms Tembo and 11 other people who benefited from the housing project will have to pay K135,000, money that will be paid over a period of five years to People’s Process on Housing and Poverty.
She is happy because she now has a house and she no longer has to worry about looking for money to pay rentals and will not despair.
Ms Tembo will be able to take care of her daughter and her cousin easily.
She plans to expand her shoe and clothing business and she also plans to diversify by engaging into crop farming.
Ms Tembo has since joined a cooperative where she has benefited from the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).
She also plans to take short courses that will give her knowledge on agriculture, branding and marketing of farm products.
“My mother has a big farm in Chibombo, and that is where I’ll start my farming from,” she said.
Ms Tembo will plant maize and she is hopeful that by the next farming season, she will be able plant soya beans and other cash crops.
Her dream is to become a commercial farmer because farming has always been her passion.
“I’m glad because I see myself living my dream of being a successful business lady and also a farmer who will be able to contribute to economic development of the country,” Ms Tembo said.
Her advice to women who are struggling to provide food for their families and meet other family needs is for them to join savings groups.
She said many women who have joined savings groups have managed to transform their lives from that of being beggars to providers.
Ms Tembo said the women have become breadwinners, helping many family members and reaching out to other vulnerable people within their communities.
Her advice to the women is that they should join savings groups which are credible if they are to avoid being swindled out of their money.
LINDA NYONDO, Lusaka