A day in the life: a mother and entrepreneur in Zambia

by Elizabeth Dewes, Field Journalism Fellow (Zambia)

Like women around the world, Dorothy wears many hats. A wife and mother to seven biological children and two adopted, she’s also an entrepreneur who’s grown her business in Lusaka, Zambia, from a small popcorn stand into a shop that sells blankets, grain, oil, and salt. Here’s a glimpse into a day in Dorothy’s life.

6:00 a.m.

Dorothy rises with the sun to help her two youngest children get to school on time. Mary is 14 years old and must leave by 6:30 to catch the bus to her private school. Dorothy combs Mary’s hair and sends her off with a packed lunch. Jeremiah is 16 years old and walks to school at 6:45. After he eats the biscuits and tea Dorothy prepares, he helps her carry the popcorn machine to the front of their house and waves goodbye.

In 2014, Dorothy’s son Simon bought this popcorn machine so he could start saving for university. When he passed away from an unknown illness soon after, Dorothy wanted to sell it. Her children urged her to instead buy one bag of kernels and start a business.

6:45 a.m.

Now that the children are taken care of, Dorothy goes straight to work. She has a customer who comes at 9 a.m. to pick up a 15-gallon bag of popcorn for resale at a nearby school. She’s already washed the kernels the night before and dried them in the sun on her porch that morning, so she’s ready to begin popping. As the machine runs, Dorothy pours cooking oil into small bags and portions off salt, ground maize, and eggs to sell in her shop.

“There were times I had no money to put into the business,” she says, “so I would put away the machine because there was no money to buy the corn. But this has not happened since joining the [savings] group.” Now, she is supplementing her husband’s income with her own.

2 p.m.

Dorothy is the savings group facilitator at her church, and she meets with her group once a month. She also visits members throughout the month to offer encouragement and mentorship, especially for young wives:

I felt God gave me this passion to share with the women, and I feel as if I have accomplished something when I do.”

4 p.m.

When Dorothy returns home, she runs errands as needed and takes time to prepare sermons for the Sundays she preaches, as she is an assistant pastor at her church.

7 p.m.

Dorothy begins making food for her family. Every night she prepares nshima (Zambia’s quintessential food, which is cooked ground maize), greens, and sometimes meat.

8 p.m.

Being the assistant pastor at her church, Dorothy and her family live for free in the church’s back room. The room is divided between sleeping and kitchen/living room areas. Her daughter Mary prays over the meal, and they eat together in the living room.

While she’s grateful for their living arrangements, Dorothy dreams of using her savings to build a home of their own. They already own a plot of land, and she plans to invest in their home once she finishes helping her daughter Rebecca pay for university.

9 p.m.

Dorothy prays for her family and goes to sleep to rest from her busy day.

We continue to be inspired by the diligent and hardworking mothers and fathers we serve throughout the HOPE network. Their faithfulness in the small, mundane tasks of ordinary life shows their love for their families and commitment to investing in their dreams.

Follow along with Chrismene, in the Dominican Republic, and Odette, in Rwanda, as they go through a typical day in their lives, investing in the families and communities.    

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As Christ’s followers responding to His great love, HOPE International seeks physical, social, spiritual, and personal restoration in places of brokenness. Through Christ-centered microenterprise development, we empower men and women to strengthen their families, build their businesses, and unleash their dreams.

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