By: Nervous Chimba
My name is Nervous Chimba, a totally blind pupil at St. Odillia Special School for the blind and albinos in Northern Zambia.
I am from a family of four, with two girls who are sighted, myself, and my brother who is deaf. My brother, whose name is Savour, was involved in a road accident at the age of 12 when coming back from school. He was hit by a motor bike and lost his hearing.
I was born blind. My parents named me James, but as I was growing, I was nervous in most situations, especially when it was dark or when left alone. My fears were expressed in tears and I nicknamed myself “Nervous.” It is now my name, and I like it so much.
My mother died of tuberculosis and when I was six and my father died when I was nine. He fell when he was cutting branches from a tall tree on a windy day. In the Northern part of Zambia, people cut branches to burn and create fertilizer for cereal crops, it is called the Chitemene system of agriculture.
Today, I live with my grandparents (when I am not in school) and their first grandson who takes care of us. I am 19 and in Grade 8. I started my Grade 1 at the age of 11.
St. Odillia, since its inception in November 1962, did not have a wall fence and students were at risk. We have experienced a lot of theft from the outsiders, since people from the nearby village can enter our hostels and get our belongings.
Inside my heart, I never trusted any one and trespassing was very common. I often wondered what could happen if a murderer entered my hostel and attacked me as I was sleeping. Yes, I could jump and shout, “Thief! Thief!!” Since I am blind, when asked to explain, I could only say, “I heard the voices of men and I felt as if they were advancing towards me.”
Sr. Agnes the school administrator explains, “A totally blind person is very insecure inside (inner fear) and this needs to be managed, or a blind person will be disoriented and unable to live confidently. Blind students living in an environment where there is fear of abduction, trespassing, theft and unknown voices, experience great torture and terror of the unknown. ‘Activities for Daily Living’ is a very important course in our school curriculum, for it teaches blind people how to come to terms with their environment. Therefore, a wall fence is the greatest tool in managing insecurity for a totally blind person.”
This state of fear and dread I thought was hidden in me, was in reality, noticed by many.
One day an albino friend, Matthews Chishimba, approached me in a friendly way and also expressed his fears for our wellbeing. I tell you I was consoled as he explained to me that he was also afraid to be attacked by strangers. Through this conversation, our friendship started and we tried to analyze the situation. One day, we organized a meeting and approached the school administration over security at the school. We suggested two things, to increase the security personnel and to build the wall fence.
It was not possible for the funds just were not available, what remained was prayer. Here I can strongly and boldly say prayer is the only key. We started having novena prayers privately in our hostels, our housemothers knew and they also encouraged us.
God answered our prayers in August 2021, through Inverness County Cares, a society in Canada. Our site director Sr. Agnes Bwalya came and announced to us that the wall fence we so fervently prayed for, would be a reality. We cried and rejoiced. All of us at once said “Yes.” It was amazing, and I said to myself, “God is great and he is the God of surprise. God is ready to answer to our prayers, God is not deaf.”
The construction of the wall fence is underway with two sides completed and they are still building the other two sides. The completed height of the wall will be 15 blocks from the foundation to the finished point, each block is eight inches with some mortar between each block. Three blocks will be buried in the underground leaving 12 blocks as the final height, or approximately eight feet or more.
A great burden will be lifted from our shoulders. We will be able to live and sleep confidently within the walls of our school. All pupils, especially the Albinos who are terrified of the stories about killings and mutilations, will have peace and security. Our privacy, which is key to human dignity, will be supported. The wall will be like the arms of the Lord, embracing us and protecting us. We cannot ever begin to express all our gratitude for this act of goodwill, from our friends in Canada.
Inverness County Cares always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate, can use the donate button on their website: https://invernesscountycares.com. When using E-transfer, please include a mailing address for CRA tax receipts and a thank you message. The etransfer address is: email@example.com, or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, 5414 Route 19, Judique, NS, Canada, B0E1P0. Taxation receipts will be provided for the USA and Canada.