Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Lily is a happy two-year-old surrounded by love. She is the youngest of five children, has a healthy appetite and enjoys playing with her friends in her community supported by ChildFund Zambia.

Her mother and father Frida and Costern are adoring parents, but they struggle to make ends meet.

Their only source of income comes from working odd jobs, such as labouring on nearby farms, for which they each earn less than AU$3 a day.

Below we tell their story, about how a lack of a reliable and sufficient income has had devastating effects on the family, and particularly on Lily (pictured above).

What does child malnourishment look like?

‘I was so worried that I might lose her,’ says Frida, Lily’s mother.

When Lily was born, she weighed a healthy 3kg. Frida breastfed her daughter for about six months before she began to produce less and less milk.

“We did not have much to eat during that time,” Frida says. “We were eating the same things – nshima (cornmeal porridge), some vegetables and occasionally small dried fish.”

When she did not have enough milk, Frida would feed Lily some nshima made with a bit of oil and ground nuts. There was little else available to feed her baby, and when Lily began to lose her appetite around eight months old, Frida began to worry.

It was the first time anything like this had happened to any of her children.

“We had little to nothing to eat,” Frida says. “Lily became weak and stopped crawling. I tried to make her eat but she refused.

My name is Agnes. I am 18 years old. I live in Zambia.

I was living with my mother and then I moved to the city to live with my sister so I could start Grade 1. I was there until Grade 4.

My sister’s husband was supporting me at school so when he died, I came back to live with my parents.

When I was younger my favourite subjects were English and community studies.

I wanted to be a nurse or a soldier.

I enjoyed telling stories and playing with my friends, those who were near me and encouraging me at school.

I got pregnant with Timothy when I was 14 years old. I had just finished my Grade 7 exams. I had passed with very good marks and I was among those who were sponsored to go to a high school in Livingstone. But, because I was pregnant I was not able to go.