Hero mum Esnat Avon founder of Contesa, an AIDS orphans in Zambia
Posted on 10 January 2013
Here at Snug-a-licious, we like to place the spotlight on inspirational mothers and children and share some of their amazing stories through our blog. We hope that some of these stories may highlight certain causes, provide inspiration and strength, make us all a bit more humble, or to simply give some amazing people a public pat on the back that they deserve! It only makes sense to feature as our very first blogger, my favorite mother in the world…… Introducing Esnat Avon (AKA ” The queen of Zambia” ) …
What is the name of your charity?
– CONTESA (click here for CONTESA website)
What inspired you to start a charity ?
A combination of situations and events that made me feel really bad every time I visited Zambia, eventually I felt that I had to react and do something about them. During my visits to Zambia in the late 1990’s I saw so many children suffering on the streets. In the end I avoided going onto the streets in Lusaka as I could not bear seeing so many children wandering about with parched lips, dirty and torn clothes, swollen stomachs and sores all over their bodies and yet adults passed them by without even a hint of their existence.
Who benefits from the charity?
The benefactors are AIDS Orphans and disadvantaged children in Zambia. We also support elderly grand-parents and vulnerable families at other centres.
What are the achievements that you are most proud of with regards the charity?
Thankfully there have been many achievements, but perhaps the most satisfying is seeing children who had come to us looking so dejected are now a bundle of health and joy with so much confidence and hope. It is also so satisfying to visit the centres which are being supported by CONTESA (http://www.contesacharity.org/) as they have become not only sanctuaries of hope, compassion and love for the orphans but also places inspiration for their communities.
Run us through a typical day for you ?
After breakfast (around 8.30am) I head straight for the computer to look at CONTESA and family emails and deal with any challenges of the day. These may be calling the centre in Zambia where actions are needed or to listen to the progress and requirements of the day. Then I attend to incoming post. This usually takes me up to lunch time when I have a short break and continue where I stopped. Sometimes the accounts need to be done and produced against budgets to circulate to the Trustees. Depending on challenges of the day I will do house work and prepare a meal of the day for Roger, Paul and myself. I still keep on checking emails all day and act accordingly. Twice a week Roger and I go for a walk along the beach in Bournemouth to refresh the mind and find inspiration for the charity.
Your goal for the next 12 months?
In January 2013 we start a skills programme in Kabwe to equip those children who are not academically inclined to learn new skills in carpentry, metal fabrication, brick -laying tailoring and IT. This is a big challenge and we aim to start it on a sound footing as all the workshops, kits and instruments are now ready for the programme to begin, click here to see details. This a is a new area of operation for CONTESA and I look forward to dealing with challenges ahead for this and other programmes currently running.
What is your greatest challenge?
It is seeing so many children still unsupported due to lack of funds is a big challenge. Our partners on the ground face many difficulties as prices of food commodities are always escalating and yet numbers of children to be fed are increasing. Education has also become a big challenge. Our community schools provide education up to grade 9 and the children attending these schools do not need fees for tuition or uniforms but now we have children who have graduated from our schools and now attend grades 10-12 in Government schools where fees are required. Funding is greatly needed to maintain our current programmes and to include and support more children as there are just so many orphans and disadvantaged children who are in dire need.
What do you think is the best asset your charity has/what do you do that you think may be better than other charities?
The best asset is our Trustees, donors, supporters and partners who collectively have made such a wonderful difference and now enable the children to be supported with care and love and respect which gives them hope for their future. CONTESA’s values are to protect children’s rights and to alleviate social injustice and achieve sustainable results. One thing that CONTESA does differently from many charities is the pledge to spend 100% of the funds donated to approved programmes and projects and we have maintained this pledge for more than 7 years. We are very transparent and invite people to visit our programmes and see for themselves where their funds are going on our annual trustee accompanied visits.
How old where you when you became a mother?
I was 20 years old
How many children do you have?
I have 5 children
What are the greatest lessons you have learnt as a mother?
Putting others first.
What is the best advice you could give to a new mum?
To love your children regardless. Learn to encourage and appreciate little achievements as well as big ones. Teach them respect, love others as themselves and be able to stand up for themselves.
What advice can you give to someone wanting to start a charity?
Follow your dream and be open to the great challenges ahead but beware there are many difficulties and frustrations but they are worth it when you see the results.
What is your goal for CONTESA?
It would truly wonderful if there was no longer a need for CONTESA but realistically this will not happen for many years, so in the meantime CONTESA wants to make a difference and aims to help orphans and vulnerable children by providing them with basic necessities of life, food and shelter and develop themselves through education and having a support structure in place for them with ultimate goal of making them productive member of the community.
How has CONTESA enriched your life?
I feel blessed for being able to save others especially the vulnerable children and orphans. I have witnessed and been humbled by the generosity and kindness from so many people especially for those who have supported us for all through the 7 years CONTESA has been in operation. The support and encouragement by Roger ( my husband) to help me fulfill my mission and vision for the most vulnerable has been amazing. What a partner! I have also come to appreciate my family and friends more and more for their support in terms of understanding and encouraging me as I go along.
What/who is the biggest influence in your life?
My Christian values have motivated me and influenced me to help other people who are not able to help themselves.
Who would be your dream mentor?
Jesus is and will be my dream mentor for the rest of my life.
What do you do to get snug-a-licious?
ha ha ha – I click here : http://www.snugalicious.com