Where We Work
Mufulira - "Place of Abundance"
Mufulira is a small mining town based in the Copperbelt region of Zambia. The area is a striking contrast of both beauty and pollution. The main source of jobs in the area come from subsistence farming, odd jobs or the local coal mines which unfortunately contribute a lot to the pollution. The jobs that do come from the coal mine are mostly suited for men, and there are very few opportunities for the women in the area.
Who We Are
Strength in Sisters - US and Strength in Sisters - Zambia's collaboration comes from a deep friendship and mutual respect. Our backgrounds, experiences, and opportunities are different, but we are powerful and capable equals working together to change our world. Strength in Sisters - Zambia is our on-the-ground, active organization serving the girls and young women of Butondo, Mufulira, Zambia. Strength in Sisters - US is based in La Mesa outside of San Diego, CA and focuses on fund-raising, web support, and PR services.
There are no US paid positions, and this allows nearly all funds to go to our Zambia programs.
Where it all Started
In 2013, Stephanie Ashley volunteered in Zambia and met Romanzi Solokah, a social worker and house-mother who worked to rehabilitate girls who had been on the streets. Stephanie learned successful, long-term rehabilitation was very difficult. Despite excelling in a half-way home, once girls returned to their communities they far too often became pregnant, were married very young, or returned to the streets. On the streets, girls were pulled into the sex-trade. Some died from botched, illegal abortions, others showed up at the home years later — only now pregnant and/or HIV+. It was a heart-wrenching cycle.
The only way Romanzi saw to break the cycle was to intervene before teen pregnancy, the streets or child-marriage were on the table. Girls and their families needed hope that things could be different and to then be equipped with the knowledge and skill-sets to navigate and succeed in their day-to-day lives. Furthermore, girls needed support as they honed and developed the discipline necessary to stay focused on their education amidst extreme poverty and a massive number of negative influences.
Meet Our Team
Director, Strength in Sisters - Zambia
From 2005 - 2014, Romanzi served as a field officer and caregiver at a home for girls and young women who had been or were in risk of being on the streets of Kitwe, Zambia. She became intimately aware of the struggles girls and young women far too often face, and has the heart and passion to serve and guide girls and young women as they build their futures.
Using her qualifications and experience as a social worker, Romanzi doubled our program size from 7 to 15 clients. Romanzi establishes community contacts, interviews candidates and their families, carries out countless private and home counseling sessions and diligently tracks the educational performance of each girl. Keeping our outreach at only 15 girls is not acceptable to Romanzi, so two years back she integrated Girls Club.
Romanzi has even bigger dreams for the girls and families of Strength in Sisters, and she is deeply grateful to our donors for making it possible to increase staff.
President, Strength in Sisters - US
Stephanie grew up in Zambia where her parents were medical missionaries from 1982-1989, and Zambia and its people defined much of who she is and her world view. In 2013, she returned to run a two month literacy program at a rehabilitation center for girls and young women in Kitwe. While there, she met Romanzi and both women immediately connected.
She returned to the US, but remained in weekly contact with Romanzi. Once a girl is on the streets or in a crisis situation, it's extraordinarily difficult to change trajectory. Romanzi and she were certain a system could be established to intervene before the streets, teen pregnancy or early marriage were a reality for young girls and their families. Unable to find one, Strength in Sisters - Zambia and Strength in Sisters - US were born.
Public Relations, Strength in Sisters - US
Sarah is in charge of Communication and Public Relations at Strength in Sisters - US. She is the East Coast Fundraising Coordinator, and came across Strength in Sisters in 2015. She works as a technical writer and wanted a creative outlet for her writing skills that made a positive impact. It soon became apparent that she had far more than write-ups to contribute to the organization. She became an active member of the US board and by April 2017, she was in Zambia visiting the girls in person.
During Sarah’s first visit to Zambia, despite the cultural differences, she was able to see similarities. She is an avid soccer player and has also been a coach. Before her trip to Zambia, her team held a successful donation drive for items to donate to Strength in Sisters - Zambia. She arrived with two huge bags of supplies to be used in girls’ club. The girls loved everything they received, but they especially bonded with Sarah because of their shared love of soccer or as they refer to it, football.
Finance Officer, SIS-ZM
Lameck brings over five years of non-profit experience to SIS-Zambia's team. In addition to submitting grant applications for the organization, he has experience organizing activities, collecting essential data, and developing reports.
Officially, Lameck serves as SIS-Zambia's Finance Officer, but in addition to budgetary responsibilities, book-keeping, and office administration, he actively participates in community outreach within Mufulira. Lameck describes his experience working with SIS-Zambia as amazing because he loves the teamwork aspect among our staff that drives the goal of supporting education for girls. He is passionate about Strength in Sisters' achievements and it's his desire to see us grow and extend our services to other parts of Zambia and Africa.