The promise was made last year. A 90th birthday party complete with a cake. That was the deal and Project HOPE Executive Director Christopher Graves made good on that promise. Louisa, a widow that Project HOPE has worked with for many years, celebrated her 90th birthday. Born in 1927 in Lusaka, she grew up in various areas before settling in Chipata with her husband, a prominent doctor.
Her husband passed away many years ago and Louisa set up house on a farm outside Kasama, Zambia. Over the years she has cared for countless orphans and widows dying of HIV-Aids. In the photo with her is one of the orphans she adopted when he was just young and now he, his wife and two boys still live with her. Together they maintain the farm and care for many other vulnerable people. Louisa has been an inspiration and steady encouragement to Christopher for the past seven years.
At the end of every meeting Christopher would say to Louisa “see you next time” to which she would reply “no, I’ll be dead before you get back”. Last year, knowing her 90th birthday would be in 2017, Christopher again said to Louisa “see you next year” to which she made her usual reply. This time though he told her “you have to be here since I am bringing you a birthday cake”. Several times through the year Louisa asked Francis Chileshe, Project HOPE’s manager in this region, if that cake was coming. He assured her Christopher would keep his promise and just recently the party was held. Cake, candles and lots of laughter.
This time before Christopher could tell her he would see her next time Louisa told him “you better promise to come to my funeral”. Again laughter all around but Christopher told her “I think we’ll be celebrating a few more birthdays first!”