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Self-help and community support

Despite their deepening poverty, many narrators describe attempts to help the less fortunate in their communities, especially those who have lost parents or partners to AIDS.

Grace explains in some detail how they help the widows and orphans in her village. She also mentions the support the radio station has given people like her, who are trying to educate their community about HIV and AIDS and the importance of testing.

Ruth is not optimistic about the future for many orphaned children. Warren tells how sometimes elderly women are left looking after many young children, and how he tried to help one such grandmother.

Mirriam looks after five grandchildren and an adult son with AIDS. She had to put her “own life on hold” to care for him at first, but says her neighbours “help in whatever way possible”.

Sara, an elderly widow with no relatives, describes how different members of the community help her to survive.


Self-help and community support is a key theme of the Living with poverty: Zambia oral testimony project.


Anna: strong and hardworking

Benson: people need jobs

Dominic: valuing tradition

Edward: anxiety of poverty

Gilbert: cattle is wealth

Grandwell: sustained support

Mirriam: dedicated to others

Ruth: a mother’s struggle

Sara: coping without family

Utrina: working the land

Warren: the HIV burden

Grace: an open approach

Key themes

Introduction to the project


Food security


Water and drought


Survival strategies

Self-help and community support


Loans and debt

Political representation

The cycle of poverty