Koinonia Community became the owner of a 100 acres (40 hectares) piece of land situated in Lusaka West. Up to now most of he Koinonia Zambia activities are carried out on this land.
One of he firs members of Koinonia in Lusaka reminisces:
Koinonia Community in Zambia was founded by Fr. Kizito Renato Sesana. He was sent to work as a Priest in Chadiza (Eastern Province, in a corner betewwn Malawi and Mozambique) in the year 1977 and there he realized his call to work with the young people. He involved some boys and girls in a club called Children of Light, and when he transferred to Bauleni, the poorest compound in the outskirt of the capital Lusaka in 1980, he also invited some of the boys to join him, with the intention of training them as lay leaders. They lived with him in the parish priest house in Bauleni as a family, each one working in different capacities, contributing to the management of the home and taking meals and praying together. Occasionally some young refugees from Zaire, Zimbabwe and Angola joined them. It was a wonderful, joyful time, we really felt like a family, with Father Kizito guiding us as a father when making choices for our life.
With the growth in number it had become impossible for all the boys to stay in the small parish priest house. A widow, Ms. Goodfellow, donated a 100 acres plot in Lusaka West and so the community moved to the new place in June 1982, while Fr. Kizito continued to stay in Bauleni and also became Youth Chaplain for the Archdiocese of Lusaka.
A community constitution was written, with the main objective of living together as a cell of the body of Jesus, by sharing joys and sorrows, experiencing Christian life like the early Christians. We choose Koinonia as our name. Some members were trained in Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Building, Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, Food Processing, Teaching and Social Welfare. Spiritual and leadership training were always part of the community life.
Koinonia community hosted seminars, youth meetings, local and international work-camps. I remember that in August 1987, we had people from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Italy, Zaire and indeed many from Zambia. For as long as Fr. Kizito stayed in Zambia, he was visiting us from Bauleni two or three times per week, but after he was transferred to Kenya in 1988 he came to visit us only three or four times per year. In Kenya he started a sister community that has developed more than us in terms of numbers.
In the meantime, in 1988 Oscar, Ackim and Boniface started Renato Community in Kapiri Mphosi, about 250 km from Lusaka, in an bushy area. In 1996 Joseph and Peter with their wives started Londjezani project, not far from Koinonia.
There were many difficult times in the life of the community. In the first twenty years several members died in accidents or by diseases. Also Fr. Raphael, a Zambian priest who visited us when Fr. Kizito was not with us, died suddenly of meningitis.
We are thankful to God because we had many very happy days, especially at the time of marriages and baptisms, meetings and work camps.
A turning point was when Father Kizito inspired us to start a program for street children, and Mthunzi Center was born in the year 2000 within the premises of Koinonia. They have brought new life and happiness and growth into the community and we see in them our future. Our Kenyan brothers have joined us with their experience and skills in education, and this has been another source of happiness.
Mthunzi Centre is a community project at the service of former street children and youth that needs guidance from loving adults. It provides: residence, meals, counseling, school and medical care for about 50 children and youth and many services to the nearby people. Some of the boys attend boarding secondary school and report back to Mthunzi during holidays. Since 2016 boys who have completed the primary cicle atend nearby St. Columba’s Secondary School.
Since the year 2002, the Italian NGO Amani supports Mthunzi Center in all its basic needs.
It is a community established in Kashitu (Kapiri Mposhi district) in 1988 inspired by Koinonia Community. It is completely autonomous and it is very active in improving the standard of life of its member and of the surrounding rural population.
Just about 1 km from Koinonia Zambia there is Lonjedzani, a project focusing on improvin the life of the girl-child. About 60 children, mainly ltle girls livign with their relativies in the area, are assistiede in all their school and medical need. Every saturrday they meed in Mthnzi, report on thei progrezz and share a meal with the Mthunzi children. This program is also supported by AMANI.
Every year Koinonia Zambia sponsord about 15 boys and girls to pursue studied beyond secondary school. Some attend vocational courses, others colleges and universities. In 2018 two former Koinonia boys attend a course to become clinical officers, one studies to become sign language teacher and another one for a degree in communication. This program is supported by Koinonia Onlus, Pane di Vita Onlus from Rome (Italy) and Associazione Grande Quercia from Trento (Italy) and by individual sponsors.
St. Columba’s Secondary School
Ms. Marian Pallister from Scotland visited Mthunzi in 2003 and founded in her Country a Charitable Organization to support the school fees of the Mthunzi boys attending secondary school. Later she mobilized other people and organizations and together with the Teresian Sisters (a local religious congregations) they started a Secondary School on a piece of land made available by Koinonia. St. Columba’s Secondary School opened for class 8 in January 2016 and is fully autonomous. Apart from about 20 Mthunzi boys it serves the neighborhood, where here is no other secondary school.
Lubuto Mthunzi Library
Lubuto Library Partners (an American NGO) and USAID have built on Koinonia land a modern library in traditional style but with state-of-the-art facilities and an open arena which can accommodate up to 300 people. There is a splendid collection of books for children and youth that serves not only the Mthunzi children and St. Columbas students, but all the people of the area. It also offers workshops in readind, story-telling, teatre, art, ecology.
MOBA (Mthunzi Old Boys Association) gathers all former Mthunzy boys to provide a network of solidarity and support.