How it started
Building homes, changing lives.
Okodwela was born on what started out as a volunteer trip to Zambia. Our founder, Amanda Frankel, spent significant time volunteer teaching at the Linda Community School, engaging in home visits, and spending hours listening to families and local leaders talk about their community needs and wishes. It was clear that the community knew what they needed to enhance self-sufficiency and had the skills to achieve it. After listening to their wishes and needs, Amanda realized she could develop a platform for supporting this community. Most of all, Amanda witnessed and understood the meaning of the Zambian word “Okodwela” (happy) and is committed to spreading Okodwela around the world!
While standing in the baggage claim area of the Nairobi, Kenya airport, Amanda met Vishal Patel, who was also in the area providing resources to communities in Kenya and Uganda. Originally from Zambia, Vishal has been traveling back and forth for several years to support families in need. When he heard about Amanda's experience and wishes to continue providing resources, they knew if they worked together, they could help carry out Okodwela's mission of supporting communities in need throughout Africa.
What does Okodwela mean?
Okodwela means 'Happy' in Nyanja (native Zambian language).
Although happiness can be defined in many ways, after spending time in the community, we learned that safe homes, clean water, economic stability, and education provide the basis for a happy life. These components provide for an overall happy home, and Okodwela looks to enhance a happy, thriving community.
Why it matters
Homelessness, insufficient housing, and vulnerability.
Okodwela’s practice of fully including local voices, labor, and resources provides a unique opportunity to support long-term impact in developing communities. Families often experience homelessness or insufficient housing in the regions that Okodwela aims to support. This can expose children and families to a number of threats such as HIV/AIDS, limited access to clean water, inner-community violence, and a decrease in employment and educational opportunities.
Okodwela aims to support and empower families to better equip them for educational and employment opportunties. Increasing the stability of individual families contributes to a self-sufficient, happy, and thriving community.