Angela Miyanda: ‘Mother of Many’ Over Three Decades of Caring for Orphaned and Abandoned Children in Zambia

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Angela Miyanda: ‘Mother of Many’ Over Three Decades of Caring for Orphaned and Abandoned Children in Zambia

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

This Mother’s Day Bread and Water for Africa® is recognizing Angela Miyanda, founder and director of the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre in Zambia is our second-longest serving partner. It was in 1998, just one year after the incorporation of Bread and Water for Africa® that we joined forces to provide loving homes for orphans in the AIDS-ravished country.

Angela was the “Second Lady” of Zambia whose husband, Brigadier General Godfrey Miyanda served for seven years as vice president of the country and in her role she encountered the tragic realities of the HIV/AIDS crisis on a daily basis.

Despite being the mother of four and a politician’s wife, Angela says she knew God had given her a higher calling because she found it impossible to stop worrying about all the orphans who lost their parents to the illness.

“I founded the Kabwata Transit Centre in response to the plight of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS,” Angela told us. “Quickly, however, that mission grew to include Lusaka’s orphaned street children, many also victims of HIV/AIDS.”

At the time, Angela reported that by many estimates Zambia has the highest proportion of orphaned children in the world, primarily due to HIV/AIDS. “The enormity of our HIV/AIDS crisis has stretched Zambia’s social fabric to the breaking point,” she said.

Angela also explained that there is no tradition of formal, legal adoption in Zambia and orphans are traditionally absorbed into their larger extended families. Very few of the orphans residing at Kabwata are being adopted, and it was never her intention that the transit centre become a permanent home.

“It became obvious that we needed to address root causes of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and also the needs of local communities,” she said, noting that working with community leaders and volunteers the transit centre’s operations quickly expanded.

Although Kabwata focused on community-based foster care providers and supporting the children from pre-school through grammar school and their foster families, the need for an orphanage became clear in 1999 with Bread and Water for Africa® providing Angela with the financial resources she needed to build an actual orphanage.

Kabwata was no pet project for Angela to oversee while Second Lady and nearly 30 years later, it has stood the test of time.

In 2015, Angela was named the Country Winner from Zambia by South Africa’s CEO Magazine in its 2014/15 issue of Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government.

Angela received the award in the “Welfare & Civil Society Organizations” category which recognizes those who “are very active in the field and have acquired an in-depth knowledge of children’s rights, enabling them to make considerable contributions towards improve the lives of children.”

The African Union notes that it is civil society organizations, such as Kabwata, which work with children in Africa and have unrivalled knowledge and experience of their situation which makes them indispensable.

“Their efforts are critical to the sustenance of a morally upright and equal continent,” the magazine noted in presenting the award to Angela recipients from other African countries.

In the summer of 2017, the Daily Mail of Zambia reported on “Kabwata Orphanage: Many successes 20 years later” noting at the time that a total of 563 children had passed through Kabwata.

“The orphanage was born out of Mrs. Miyanda’s compassion for children who were left behind by parents who died of AIDS and related illnesses,” the article states, adding that when Angela opened “HIV and AIDS was at its peak” and it was at that time she decided to create a shelter for such children.

And, to date, children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic still make up the largest number of those who have gone through Kabwata, and Angela notes that in all its years of existence, they have lost 13 children, mostly due to HIV and AIDS.

“The oldest was 11 years old,” Angela said.

But Angela does not dwell on those lost, but those who now have a great life and hope for the future.

“The greatest achievement we celebrate are the children who have made it and are able to fend for themselves,” she said. “I have had very wonderful people around; we cannot even claim that we have done it all by ourselves at the centre.

“It has been a collection of so many people. It is not me and myself, but God.”

In 1989, Angela first met with Bread and Water for Africa® founder the late Gene Krizek where they spoke about how much good they would be able to do over the coming years – Angela with dedication and determination, and Gene who has rallied thousands of Americans to her cause of providing a home, and love, to the country’s most vulnerable residents.

It is a dream they realized together.

And to mark the 20th anniversary of that partnership in 2018 Bread and Water for Africa® executive director Bethelhem Tessema, Christian Relief Services CEO Bryan Krizek and several Bread and Water for Africa® supporters including Michael “Mr. Mike” and Delane Salkeld, Chris LaRue and the Salkeld’s grandson, Scott, flew to Lusaka to meet with Angela and celebrate her many accomplishments.

Today, on this Mother’s Day, we all at Bread and Water for Africa®, wish to take this opportunity to recognize once again the love and hope she has given to so many who arrived at her doorstep with neither, and whom she has taken into her arms as her very own to this very day.

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