The idea for a Women’s Economic Development Club in Lusoke Village of Zambia had an unusual start. Society founder and president, La Toya McBean, had a desire to launch a compassionate health project in Zambia in 2005, when the HIV/AIDS epidemic was
ravaging Sub-Saharan Africa. However, it was not until March 2016 that she was spurred into action after reading Time magazine’s cover story “The Secret War Crime.” The story was about conflict rape and the women and children who are victims of this heinous act. The story focuses on a young Sudanese woman, who is nine months pregnant and HIV-positive following repeated attacks. With a goal of providing support and resources to these women and individuals diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, the Society set out to create a global health program.
It was soon decided that the project would launch in Zambia, which offered a small, stable community to support a new initiative of this kind. In October of 2016, only a few months after the Time article was published, The Daniel Society visited Lusaka on an exploratory mission to understand the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among vulnerable groups of people. During this visit, it became clear that while HIV/AIDS is still very much a problem, the rate of deaths caused by the disease had dropped significantly in Zambia. However, the problem remains severe in the rural Western Providence, where the prevalence rate is increasing and villages lack access to lifesaving treatment.
Because the Society could not visit the Western Province during this short trip, they decided to meet with villagers just outside of Lusaka to learn how HIV/AIDS had
impacted them. While on their way to a village, the group got lost and ended up in Chongwe, where they were soon directed to a meeting with a local high ranking official. They told him their purpose for the trip and he directed them to the nearby Lusoke Village, where the group met with the village’s Headman and women.
The conversation in Lusoke Village quickly turned to the issues that plague the people daily: poor access to water, high alcoholism among the villagers due to lack of work and activity, and a lack of recreation for their children. They also spoke about the financial challenges facing women and their small businesses. Women lacked the capital to maintain and grow their businesses. They wanted to start a club that helped women with these financial needs. When the Society asked about how HIV/AIDS was impacting the village, they said the disease is under control in their village because people regularly receive treatment from the nearby clinic.
Ultimately, the idea of the Women’s Economic Development Club was presented by the
villagers themselves. Before the Society stumbled upon Lusoke Village, the people already had a vision and hope for their future. Although the Society’s initial focus was on HIV/AIDS, the people clearly presented their most pressing needs and a possible solution to the Society. Because the Society’s mission is directed by the needs of those it serves, the Society will give the women of Lusoke Village a “lift” or “boost” to realize their vision.
The Daniel Society led the first Club meeting in June of 2017. The Club’s mission is to promote hope, entrepreneurism and self-sufficiency to women in Lusoke Village. The
Society will provide seed capital for business micro-loans, financial literacy training, and a savings plan for school fees. Further, the Club will empower its members to become change agents in the village by reinvesting in the Club to sustain its funding level and help lift more families out of extreme poverty. The Society believes that a combination of capital and education will promote self-sufficiency, productivity, and confidence among Club members. Click here to learn more about the Club.
Initiatives such as this one are the result of everyday humanitarians finding creative ways to help those in need. The Lusoke Village project will not cost much to put into action, but it will make a lasting difference in the lives of all its members and their families. As it grows, evolves, and extends to include more members, The Daniel Society will continue collaborating with the people of Lusoke Village to strengthen the project’s model. We hope you will consider joining our movement and helping to further our cause of empowering women. Click here to make a monthly gift and become a member of The Daniel Society.