By LINDA NYONDO
FRIENDS describe her as an open minded, spiritually, physically and emotionally strong person.
For some, Kavwumbu Hakachima is a potential female president – good, smart and intelligent while to her family she is a pillar.
Ms Hakachima, a child rightsâ€™ activist, will stop at nothing to speak out for the voiceless.
According to Ms Hakachima, stiffer punishment is a sure way of deterring men from defiling girls.
She says sexual violence was never discussed openly in Zambia; this is because most families regarded it as a taboo.
Ms Hakachima and her colleagues therefore faced resistance from people because of their strong beliefs that sexual violence was a family issue.
She believes that to get something done, or to bring a change, one has to take a risk and talk about it.
Having secured a position as the first pioneer of a centre called â€œChild in Crisisâ€ at the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) which focuses on issues of sexual abuse, she has been actively promoting childrenâ€™s rights as well as conducting training with law enforcement agencies on child abuse.
Ms Hakachimaâ€™s dedication to advocacy against sexual violence in Zambia has not only helped in raising awareness but earned her international recognition as well.
She was the first African woman to be awarded the Reebok Human Rights award.
The Reebok human rights award which recognises people who promote human rights in their respective countries, comes with a prize of $50,000.
Ms Hakachima received the award for being instrumental in raising awareness of child abuse in Zambia and launching the mult-faceted programme to deal with the problem.
As coordinator of the â€˜Children in Crisis in Zambiaâ€™, she developed training programmes on the causes and signs of child abuse for police departments, ward counsellors, parliament, medical community, welfare and churches.
On her return to Zambia, Ms Hakachima set up the Zambia Children New Life Centre in 2002 in Lusakaâ€™s Linda Township.
Her dream of establishing an organisation that will solely look at the plight of the vulnerable in society has indeed come to true. She set up the drop-in-centre that gives shelter to vulnerable children.
Most of the children found at the drop-in-centre are taken there by the Zambia Police.
She said in instances where children at the drop-in-centre get sick, and she would take them to the hospital.
â€œI remember one child who was brought to the drop in centre kept on getting sick and I decided that medical examinations be done on himâ€.
â€œThe child was found to be HIV positive and I realised at that time, the need for a hospital in Linda township,â€ Ms Hakachima said.
She received support from Government and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) who helped her set up Chikondi Hospital in Linda township.
When the hospital was just opened, an average of three people were being attended to on a daily basis, but currently, the hospital deals with about 70 cases a day.
Ms Hakachima said from the time the hospital was opened many people have stopped walking long distances to access health services.
Ms Hakachimaâ€™s desire to help the vulnerable was evident from her early years as back in her home village in Chikankata she would draw water for the elderly.
She remembers one fateful day when her mother prepared a meal for her to eat after school.
But she decided to give it to an elderly man she found lying in the bush, a stone throw from their house.
â€œThe elderly man had walked for three days without food or water thanked me and my mother for the meal. He was going to Chikankata Hospital to visit his relative who was hospitalised,â€ Ms Hakachima said.
As a young girl, she always looked around for someone to help. She realised at a young age that she had to work hard, get educated and help the vulnerable.
Ms Hakachima said child abuse and sexual violence will not be eradicated if poverty is not dealt with deterioration of traditional structure has contributed to child abuse.
â€œPeople should always realise that where oneâ€™s human rights end, someone elseâ€™s rights start.
I still champion castration of defilers, if I was appointed Minister of Home Affairs, I would still advocate for castration,â€ Ms Hakachima said.
Born in 1973 in a polygamous family of 16, Ms Hakachima is the first born daughter from the second wife. They are eight from her mother.
Ms Hakachima did her primary education at Chikankata primary and her secondary education at St Josephâ€™s Secondary School in Southern Province.
She made it to the University of Zambia in 1993 to 1996 were she studied Education physiology with history as her minor.
Ms Hakachima was the first person in her family to make it to any university and many more, have followed her footsteps.
A year after she graduated from the University of Zambia, Ms Hakachima joined the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) in 1997 as a volunteer and was appointed programmes coordinator, a position she held for one year, six months.
By LINDA NYONDO