Recent Posts By Bwalya Melu, World Vision U.S.

When vision is fueled by grace

When I met Grace Kapila Shilimbwa in rural Zambia, I had no idea about the story behind the owner of the premier guesthouse in the area. Standing by the recently added feature, a swimming pool, I was deeply curious to find out a little more about Grace’s background and journey.

Grace lost her husband in 1996. “My husband was providing for the family, and I was merely supplementing his efforts, but now, things were different; I had to provide all that was needed.”

After making several attempts to start a business, Grace sought help from a World Vision microfinance institution called HARMOS. With their counsel, she decided to reposition herself and pursue her dream of starting her own restaurant and lodge. This was despite her disability resulting from a stroke she suffered soon after her husband of 20 years had died.

The pain of her loss and the financial stress had taken their toll on her body -- but not her vision.

With a loan from HARMOS, she was able to roof her first structure. With the help of her children, Grace had literally molded bricks and provided the bulk of the labor. But that was just the beginning.

'We may be poor, but we’re not stupid' -- the reality of life in Africa

Stories are powerful. They can bring hope, or despair. Laughter, or sorrow. And, as we who work for World Vision and other humanitarian agencies know very, very well, stories can educate and enlighten people. They can help achieve a lot of good.

One woman whose story last week received a lot of accolades and criticism is Zimbabwean writer NoViolet Bulawayo. Her book, “Hitting Budapest,” has won what many consider to be Africa’s top award for literature, the Caine Prize.

“The language of ‘Hitting Budapest’ crackles," the prize’s leading judge commented to CNN. "Here we encounter…a gang reminiscent of ‘Clockwork Orange.’ But these are children, poor and violated and hungry. This is a story with moral power and weight [that] has the artistry to refrain from moral commentary."

However, not everyone has praised Ms. Bulawayo’s story. One blogger, Aaron Bady, who writes under the name “zunguzungu,” contends that the book “traffics in the familiar genre of Africa-poverty-pornography.”