What Happened To This Boy's Mother?

We do not often get the chance to report on the work of SODEN, the social welfare committee of the United Church of Zambia. This appalling story is typical of the things they have to handle.

The difficult work of the SODEN (Social Development for the Needy) is shown by a story we have received from Bongo B Namitondo, the organisation's secretary in Monze.

In the town of Ndola, there was the Tembo family, in which a 13-year-old boy lived with his mother and disabled father. To earn money, the mother began to take tomatoes down to Livingstone, where there is a ready market for them.

One weekend, she and the boy took the long train journey - they left home on the Friday and arrived in Livingstone at 3:00 a.m. on the Sunday, exhausted.

At 5:00 a.m. the boy was asleep in the station waiting room, when the mother left to sell her tomatoes - and when he woke up, he found her gone.

He had no food and no money, and waited for two whole days for her to come back before the police picked him up. Unable to find his mother, they told him to go back home to Ndola - but, as he had no money for the fare, they found him a lift in a lorry which took him 300km of the way, and dropped him in Monze.

This time the little boy was found by a welfare officer, who sent him to SODEN office and asked them to help. Hilda, who chairs the organisation, took him home and, after a big meal, discovered that the young boy had not eaten for six days. She kept him for four days, fed him and clothed him, and the committee of SODEN tried without success to find him transport back to Ndola. A train which was expected failed to turn up, which is common in Zambia, and eventually the committee raised 40,000 Kwache (about £6) to put him on a bus, and Hilda gave him another 5,000K (about £1) for food on the journey.

The SODEN committee saw him off on the bus. What became of him? We don't know. And what became of his mother? Nobody knows that either.