Fire destroys Macha Vision Community Center

Grantham, PA – Within a span of just two hours on Saturday, November 24, a fire destroyed the Macha Vision Community Center in Choma, Zambia. The fire broke out in the Macha Radio Studio and spread to the internet café, the Macha Innovative Community School, the restaurant, the library/craft shop, and several other areas of the center before it was finally contained in the kitchen area. Thanks to the valiant efforts of community volunteers, the Community Hall area of the building was spared, along with about two-thirds of the building’s contents.   

The Brethren in Christ Church in Zambia was one of several organizations that contributed to construction of the Community Center, a rural innovations hub which acts as a stimulus to economic growth in the rural area of Macha. The center creates environments that sustain development, generates solutions, opens new market sectors and supports the development of the community to enhance innovation and development. Vision Community Center tenants have access to services, space and facilities that contribute to their long-term growth and sustainability.

Gertjan van Stam initiated the project soon after arriving at the Malaria Institute at Macha to fill a part-time IT portion of the ongoing malaria research project. He had previously managed an internet café in Zimbabwe, and so is a strong advocate for what such a center means for local residents. In addition to the internet café, van Stam developed the local radio station, the library and craft shop, the restaurant, and the primary school in the center. The then vice president of Zambia, Lupando Mwape, was present at the August 2006 opening of the Community Center.   

Photos of the fire and a blog entry from November 24 can be found at and

Information regarding donations towards the reconstruction of the building is forthcoming.