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Zambian charity shop owner campaigns to open schools and clinics back home

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Community stalwart Edah Lupambo shares the fascinating story behind her Aid For Africa project – and how the inspiration came to her in a dream.

Go down St Thomas Road in Normanton early enough in the morning, and chances are you’ll spot someone setting up an eclectic mixture of items in front of her shop, from pushchairs to framed artwork. Edah Lupambo has done this nearly every morning for the past five years, with the joint aims of supporting people both locally and in her birth country of Zambia.

Edah’s charity shop, Aid For Africa, all began with the desire to help just one person – a mission she says came to her in a dream. “One of my friends from primary school back home had died, but I didn’t know about it at the time,” she tells us. “I had a dream that he was telling me to help him, because he was leaving his disabled child behind.”

Upon waking up and discovering that there was in fact truth to her dream, Edah found a wheelchair for her late friend’s son and made the journey back to Zambia to give it to him. “It was a wonderful smile we saw on his face,” she says. “I thought, ‘This feels good. We have to continue doing this, because I can see there are more people like him.’”

Edah spread the word about her new charitable project to friends at her local church, and was soon surprised to receive an entire home’s worth of donations from someone who’s mother had just passed away. “We got so much donated in one go, and I had to stock everything in my house,” she says. “There was no space to walk – it was everywhere, upstairs and downstairs.”

Eda is making her next trip to Zambia on 28th November (Credit: Jamie Morris/Mojatu)

Rather than paying for the shipping to send all of the items to Zambia, Edah had the idea to open a charity shop in 2018 so she could raise money to supply those in need back home with essentials. The business quickly took off and became not just a lifeline for people in Africa, but something of an all-purpose community hub for Derby locals, too. “We’ve been so blessed with this place and the community has been amazing,” she says. “What started as a shop has become like a job centre, an estate agents, a play centre and a place for prayer.” 

Edah runs the shop almost entirely on her own, which was particularly challenging when she was informed that the warehouse she once used for stock was set to close within two weeks, resulting in her losing around forty tonnes of items. “But it didn’t put me off – I just kept going,” she says with a smile. “The community is still blessing me with donation after donation.”

Currently, Edah’s main objective is to raise the money and resources needed to open more schools and clinics in Zambia, as a lack of accessibility means that people in rural areas may have to walk for up to six hours to reach the nearest one. She lists wheelchairs, Zimmer frames, medical equipment and incubators for babies as the most helpful donations people and organisations can give. 

“Last time I was there, we visited a maternity ward, and I cried when I saw how the babies were being kept, such as putting containers of hot water around them just to make them grow,” she recalls. “We are really praying that we get that support.”

Supporting people back home has also helped Edah to learn more about herself. “When I came here aged 14, I barely knew what Zambia was. I didn’t even know my own culture,” she explains. “But when I started this charity work, everything opened up for me to know who I am and where I come from – and who needs help there.”

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