Thursday, June 13, 2024

Grandmother (63) breastfeeds orphaned twin grandchildren


Ms Christine Chisha breastfeeds her grandson as his twin sister waits for her turn in the arms of cousin.
Ms Christine Chisha breastfeeds her grandson as his twin sister waits for her turn in the arms of her cousin.

Alumbwe and Natasha Lesa are five-month-old twins being breastfed by their 63-year-old grandmother.
As unlikely as this might sound, theirs is an extraordinary tale; that of their grandmother’s extraordinary fight to keep them alive against all odds.

Despite being five months old, Alumbwe and Natasha look like newborns because of their small stature and obvious malnourishment.

Christine first caught my attention after I found her seated at her relative’s house.The reason she caught my attention was that she looked positively menopausal and well past her prime child-bearing age and I really wanted to find out how someone her age was breastfeeding two small children.

My inquisitiveness forced me to take a seat on an upturned bucket as I listened to the extra-ordinary story of how a 63-year-old grandmother ended up lactating without pregnancy and giving the orphaned twins nourishment that has kept them barely alive.

How Grandmother Chisha became the twins primary caregiver

To help understand her predicament, Ms Christine Chisha began her story with the death of the twins mother (her daughter-in-law)who died from massive bleeding following a difficult labour.

“Health officials came from Mungwi District because she gave birth at home but they were too late. She died before they could get her from the rural health centre to get specialised treatment at a bigger hospital,” she said.

She said shortly after burying the twins’ mother, their maternal grandmother demanded that Ms Chisha takes them.The maternal grandparents insisted she(Ms Chisha) was still young and had more experience with children.They were not ready to look after their deceased daughter’s children.

“My daughter-in-law’s mother, however, flatly refused to help me care for the twins and forced them on me including the twins’ two-year-old sibling.”

Losing their mother just three days after their birth, community members encouraged their maternal grandmother Christine Chisha to let them suck from her breasts.They said the motion of sucking would stimulate her to lactate and milk would eventually start flowing seeing that she had at one time breastfed her own children.

Extreme poverty and dire straits forced Ms Chisha to try the unorthodox means of keeping her grandchildren alive.Although her breasts are producing milk, she says she does not produce enough to feed two growing children.

When quizzed as to why she opted to breastfeed the twins, she said that she did not have the resources to buy a steady supply of infant formula.

It is, however, obvious there are many things Ms Chisha has left unsaid and to pry her with more questions on the subject seemed like an intrusion on her family’s privacy.

A Grandmothers daily struggle to keep her 5 month twin grand-babies alive

Ms Christine Chisha breastfeeds her grandson
Ms Christine Chisha breastfeeds her grandson

Christine Chisha, who is well into her 60s is no stranger to hardship. She has been looking after her bed-ridden husband for two years.

“He went on a drinking spree one day and we suspect he was poisoned there. He came back gravely ill and has been an invalid since then. So you can see there is no one I can lean on for help.

“Not even my immediate family members have offered to help me raise Natasha and Alumbwe,” she narrated, while sitting on a reed mat.

The twins are not her only responsibility.

“I also keep seven other grandchildren and some of my own children,” she says.

She said she has whole heartedly looked after the twins as all her agricultural produce has been sold to buy formula for the motherless twins. It, however, was not enough.

The twins obvious stunted growth as well as Christine’s minimum literacy levels show that they probably are not getting proper nourishment from the tinned milk.

It is clear that when they do have milk, it is probably mixed with the wrong proportions of water to make it last longer. As a result, the nutritional value that ought to be derived from the formula is insufficient to spur their growth.

Christine Chisha is clearly at her wits end on how she will continue to support and feed the children during the crucial under five stage.

Turned away from the Department of Social Welfare

Upon being advised that she could get dietary support from the department of social welfare in Kasama, Ms Chisha got on public transport to see what sort of help she could get from the department.

It was a long wait. Officers kept giving her appointment after appointment and cut her calls whenever she tried to enquire when she could get dietary support.

Eventually, her persistence yielded results she was told to go and collect some formula.She was, however, in for a shock.Thinking she would be given at least enough milk to last a month, she only received two tins of lactogen baby formula.They were hardly enough to feed one hungry baby let alone two for a whole month.

The social welfare officer asked her how much transport money she required to travel from her village to Kasama.
When she told the officer that she needed at least K50, the social worker responded that Christine was better off utilising the transport money to buy milk because she at best would only get the two tins and it should not be taken for granted the milk would always be in stock.

A Cry for Help

Christine says she loves her grandchildren and wouldn’t want to give them up but she was hopeful that if her story was told, maybe a non-governmental organisation or well-wishers would come to her aid.

Despite being alive to the fact that there were many vulnerable children, she hoped her grandchildren would be fortunate enough to receive assistance; dietary or monetary to help them cross the five-year mark.

So far, a few relatives, who are also living just below the poverty line have helped with items of clothing that my eyes seemed to spy were almost thread bare and would have, in ordinary circumstances, been consigned to the garbage heap.

Christine says those wishing to render assistance can get in touch with her through her sister who works as a domestic worker in Kasama.

One of the twins,Natasha gives me a watery smile oblivious to the worry that lines her grandmother’s face. And as I take my leave, she smiles again before turning to her grandmother’s breast to suck from a breast that simply is not producing anything because her brother sucked before her.In frustration, she falls asleep.

By Norma Siame
Times of Zambia


  1. This is quite moving.What a super grandma! Government hope you are reading this,help this poor woman.I have been touched.

    • Grandma means good but she is actually starving the kids to death! Her good old boobs are just acting as pacifiers, they are not nourishing the children.

      Alternative food needs to be given to the babies pronto! They are already stunted as it is. They can even eat porridge at that stage.

      What happened to her son, the children’s father?

    • Sad reading indeed. Goat milk can be used to supplement as well. One of the extreme sad results of corruption is that the poor or voiceless get affected negatively more.

  2. Gee this is so touching. God works through people and we need to help this poor woman. please give us details on how we can help even in a small way.

    • Unfortunately “Most” of these so called churches just swindle cash from the Poor, enriching their Pastors, who sleep with members of the congregation, whilst building themselves mansions. I rarely see these “Churches” helping the deserving poor such as this Grandma. Thats Gods “Holy” men at work, if you know what I mean.

    • To those who want to help her, I have arranged for a cell phone to be given to her tomorrow and once she collects it will publish it here.

  3. Can the government set up accounts for people like this so i can be sending some few Euros for her twins every month? Am busy giving contributions here to the non governmental organisations that help poor people in Africa to get water meanwhile someone in my own country need that money, besides i would know for sure where and how it’s being used.
    Diasporians lets do much more than blogging, we are busy lashing out at GRZ, can we act and not type? Am very much touched like almost tearing up.

  4. ZNBC must go and interview her ,broadcast it ,so that many pipo can see this and help. am really touched. she has really tried ,even brining them to 5 months old must have been extremely dificult. by the way ,there is one piece missing in the story, “where is the man whose surname these children carry???? iam refering to the man who fathered them, where is he, or is he dead or why has he let his mother suffer like this? looking after the children that he willingly brought to this world. there a lot of un answered questions.

  5. Yes indeed the old lady needs help. This is one area we need to develop as Zambians. The culture of giving. I remember when i once lived abroad my fellow studends will get agitated just by looking at a picture of a suffering african next moment they will be on the streets soliciting for funds to be sent to the affected people. There is alot that we can do to help but we need to be willing first then we can come up with ideas. There is more happines in giving than receiving and blessings from the Almighty Jehovah will be on us.

  6. This is sad indeed.May I be given contact on 0966752832 so that I can go and help out our mother look after those lives.
    I always try to put myself in someones shoes and imagine that it could have been me in this or that situation.
    Thanks Norma for bringing out this story.


    • why are you using zambia numbers yet your flags are USA? are you people roaming and staying in the USA/diaspora or what???

    • I can send something with western union but i want to be sure am not just sending money to anyone other than this woman, LT, how do we know that she herself gets the money?


  8. Norma Siame, please give us the contact to this woman or her sister’s instead of us wasting time on commenting please. how do i get in touch with her or how do i send my contribution? i am on 0977333212.

    • why are you using zambian numbers yet your flag is USA? are you people roaming and staying in the USA/diaspora or what???

  9. Kasama Social Welfare Office needs to be visited, and the officer in charge needs to be seriously repremanded. The reporter would have done well to bring this matter to the attention of the District Commissioner!

    AM ON 0955688193

    • why are you using zambian numbers yet your flag is USA? are you people roaming and staying in the USA/diaspora or what???


  12. Cant Ukwa donate some of the money he earns from his salary increment? Cant Dr Kasebanya donate some cash from the windfall she got for the non-existent office of the first lady? Can Judge Chikopo donate some of the cash he is getting for doing nothing? Can the great bag of manure (GBM) the woman’s MP, donate some of the money he has made since he became defence minister as payback for funding PF campaigns?

    • @mphendula kayaula cant your the southern province president to donate some of the embalmed milk. ulekwta amano. and i would suggest whoever would like to donate something to donate through the catholic church in kasama

    • cozmokaojr for your information I am not from Southern province not that it would be a problem if I was. Just highlights your narrow thinking which misses the point I am making but instead you focus on ethnicity and stereotypes. I suggest you read my post again, nay, perhaps for you ten more times, then there is a very slight possibility that you will get the point I am making.

  13. Busy spending money on created unnecessary bye elections at the expense of poor Zambians. Its true a rich man will never inherit the kingdom of God. I hope rich people has seen this article. God bless the woman in Jesus name.

  14. for me am in kasama and am going to the welfare offices afta lunch to see if i can get some info for o those interested my bbm pin is 2354F9A3 whatsapp 0966896709

    • @Memo
      Get ready to recieve a call from me – I’ll say it’s High Speed Black mama. Are you able to go to Western union for her in Kasama?
      I know it means giving up your anonimity. Unless we can send it in her name. Please make sure her Id is as per the article.

    • Can someone help me with calling Memo? I dialed 011 260 966896709. It’s rejecting both calls and SMS

    • Yay! spoke to Memo.
      She will provide details to us tomorrow.
      3 Cheers for Memo!

  15. How possible is this? Where is the milk coming from? Lets be realistic people. Get the children some alternative milk. Grandma is just sticking her empty boobs into the babies’ mouths as a pacifier. The children will starve.

  16. Hello people.Lets avoid insulting each other.Those who are ready to help,lets help out and Memo help us to establish the facts about this matter.Will shall appreciate it very much.
    We are brothers and sisters and remember one zambia one nation.Its about humanity and some of us we find joy in giving a helping hand.
    Cheers and peace to you all.

  17. Touching, Amazing and deserves to be helped. Please LT let someone Help the Old lady Open a Bank Account. Zambians at Home & in diaspora, we need to help this old lady, Let us donate whatever we can to her. It will make a big Difference. What a super Grandma, My God bless her all the time.

  18. the one is the illiterate ”By Norma Siame from
    Times of Zambia” who wrote this story without giving help details.
    You Norma, go back to school, dont you know that without setting up help procedures for this old woman from the many well wishers you are putting us at risk from fraudsters, Id.iot.

  19. Surely, if this is true let the author provide more details. This is indeed touching. I’m more than willing to assist.

  20. How dare you guys make me cry!
    I read the story and of course it hits hard. But the kindness and concern expressed by so many is what melts my heart. You bloggers are really something, so kind.
    Today I love you all so very much even those I’ve annoyed/upset. I declare a love-all-Zambians day today!

  21. To all those that have shown interest in helping her, like you I was also very touched by her story and asked a friend working in Kasama at Airtel and they have donated a phone for her. I have been given the number but it will only be on tomorrow when she goes to collect it and her names as above are Mrs Christine Chisha or Bana Mulenga John as she is called in the Village. Apparently she stays at Ngoli village in Kasama and hour’s drive from Kasama Town.

  22. Please tell me how I can send money or formula to this woman . I live in the United States. I want to help this grandmother and her twins . Please someone tell me how to send money or formula.

    • Hello fellow bloggers. Am the author and sorry for leaving out important issues. The father of the twins is sick and mental. Ms chisha will be at my home by Monday and those interested can Skype with her. I asked her sister to send someone to fetch her with her NRC so I can open a K50 book balance account for her with Zanaco. She has no phone but well wishers have made a phone available which will be given to her on Monday. Those wanting to help can email me and we provide proof the help is getting to her. h0978578596 is her sisters number her name is Juliet. Others can get in touch through my Facebook page by searching Norma Kapata-Siame and I can forward the number of the phone that well wishers have donated so they can speak to her directly

  23. Excellent story from a public media institution. Times have really changed, what a wonderfully written and well researched story

  24. Which church does this woman go to? I m UCZ… If there is UCZ near her place let her go there and get the details of Reverend and Address and contact me so that I send something for the children next month (30-09-2013)… Im touched also… Contact mobile No… Will provide I get a feed back…

  25. Ba times please – was this story written just for news? If people wnt to help how do they go about it. Too many fraudsters around…

  26. I dont think these *****s even read what they write about. If you do read the blogs, PEOPLE want to help. Please post the contacts for so many people who want to help.

  27. so i went to airtel kasama and the pipo i spoke to don’t seem to know about any phone donations but i have just spoken to Juliet the sister to the granny and the good news she she is waiting for granny to come so i have asked her to pass through my work place which is just minutes away for all those willing to help u can call or txt me or call Juliet on 0978578596 has norma posted earlier.
    thanx and God bless

  28. Sad reading indeed. But the multi million kwacha question is: Where is the Father?

    The writer has not said anything about him- whether he is deceased or what. coz if he is around; then he must take responsibility. he is the twins’ sire right?

  29. I have always believed that zambia has got people who have the hearts to assist others. I have managed to talk to Memory who is in kasama on her cell and she is doing just what she promised. Let the account be opened for the grandmother so that we can deposit our contributions

  30. Memory, its not the people at airtel who have donated the phone. I have been speaking to the Regional Manager Mr. Matwi he knows about this whole story. She will picking the phone from a lady who works there and once the phone is activated that’s when I will provide the number so that we all contact her directly. It seems there are some interested parties (not in a good way) who want to get involved. I was also advised that once she picks the phone they can activate Airtel money for her that way we shall all know that she is the one getting the money and not a third person.

    • OK Mrs Lungu thanx for the clarification i think that’s a good idea ma so many pipo r willing to help thats a good thing am just waiting to meet her coz some of my workmates r ready to donate clothes nd food will kip updating
      God bless u ma

  31. goodafternoon everyone
    so am with granny and juliet rite now for some who have gotten in touch with me via bbm and watsapp i hav oready sent some pics the babies really need our help pipo

  32. Could you please let me know what is needed and where to send it? I am well aware of the corruption that is present and I want the donations to make it to this lady and the babies, instead of greedy people hoping to profit off of her misfortune. Thank you very much.

  33. Where are the churches in Kasama;SDA,UCZ,CATHOLICS(sisters of the child Jesus),Bread of life etc.Community care givers what is happening?talk to us.Radio Mano can you air this piece of story.The DC,what are your social workers doing.Please Dr Kaseba and Dr Scott,would you decide to go silent on this issue?Losing these children is worse than cancer because here there is chance of survival.Give me contacts for her (Grandmum) on 0950456389.

    • It is really sad to see that even our mothers are still suffering who suffered even before to bring us here on earth. I feel touched at heart to read such a disturbing story. I may not offer you the best you may need but I pray that the GOD Almight bless you as you take care of those lovely twins becoz they are the future leaders of tomorrow. Chibote

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