Habitat for Humanity Great Britain's 2021 Christmas appeal shone a light on land rights issues in Zambia. In particular, how procuring land occupancy licences and learning about safe housing through Study and Savings Groups can be life changing for women. Through their Christmas appeal, Habitat encouraged supporters to learn about how they are helping women in Zambia build a better tomorrow by introducing them to Beauty.
In 1982, Beauty C Buwanu met Jeff Chamba, a smiling truck driver from a nearby village and together they had 4 children lived in a nice home and had a steady income. On the evening of July 6th 1999 while Beauty and her family were sleeping a group of men broke into their home, woke the family then shot and killed Jeff while Beauty and her children watched.
After being widowed, some women in Zambia may find themselves homeless as their in-laws lay claim to their property and possessions through the practice of “widow inheritance”. Born out of a traditional custom designed to maintain assets and income through the generations, and to provide a safety net for women who become widows at a young age, the practice of widow inheritance sees women remarrying a male relative of her late husband, often his brother. Unfortunately for too many women, especially those who are most vulnerable, this practice is simply a channel to reclaim property and as such, the widow loses all the rights to her property and assets. After refusing to be subjected to that old tradition, the family rejected Beauty and she returned home to find that they’d taken the property and all of her assets within it and she was chased out of the family home.
For the next 10 years they struggled, staying with family friends before having to move into a one room plastic tent, sleeping on a dirty floor with just a blanket between them. After struggling for so long, their luck changed and as part of Habitat for Humanity Zambia’s orphans and vulnerable group housing programme, Beaty and her children were selected to receive a fully subsidised Habitat Home. As much as she went through the problems of losing a house that she owned and all her assets, the Habitat house has given her back hope.
"I’m happy because now I’m safe, I’m living in the house I’m saying thank you for building me a house." - Beauty
Although the Constitution of Zambia forbids discrimination based on gender, women remain disadvantaged when it comes to buying land and home ownership. Additionally, women in vulnerable communities often do not know their rights or the processes for securing their land and homes, or are simply too poor to be able to pay legal or land licensing fees.
Our partnership with Habitat, offering match funding over the Christmas period, meant that all donations made to their appeal were doubled. In total, with your support, their Christmas appeal has raised over £30,000! The money raised from this appeal will go a long way in enabling Habitat to continue supporting vulnerable people like Beauty to build a better future and we would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this.