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Visiting Zambian mayor hopes to exchange ideas with Reading’s mayor and City Council

A visiting Zambian mayor says she hopes to exchange knowledge and ideas with Reading Mayor Eddie Moran and City Council.

“In simple terms, I’m saying let’s partner as sisterhood councils so that we learn from one another, because this story here and back home are different stories,” said Mayor Annie Kapandula Kalamatila of Lufwanyama District, Zambia. “And we can combine the two (stories) and foster development to serve our communities in a better way.”

Kalamatila sat in on a City Council meeting Monday after spending the day touring City Hall and speaking with City Managing Director William Heim and other officials.

Though the guest mayor was unable to meet with Moran, who was on personal leave Monday, she said Heim did an admirable job of filling in.

“He was like the mayor,” she said of Heim. “He explained every question I asked him, so I’m really thankful to him and the mayor in absentia.”

Kalamitila served a five-year term as a ward councilor before becoming the first woman mayor of her district, the largest in Zambia in southern Africa.

Lufwanyama has 20 wards in an area of about 425 square miles. Reading, by comparison, has six districts in 10.8 square miles.

Although rich in arable land and the production of minerals, particularly emeralds and copper, Lutwanyama is one of the poorest districts in Zambia, Heim said.

“But with great potential,” he noted, “thanks to its natural resources, and particularly the mining of lots of valuable minerals.”

Many of its residents live in poverty and lack access to education and health services.

The visiting mayor has big plans to bring positive change by making improvements to education, health, unemployment and infrastructure, according to a biography provided by Moran’s office.

“I have a passion to serve the community,” she said, “to be a voice for the voiceless, and I’m here for nothing else.”

Before beginning her career in politics, Kalamatila ran a charity that distributed donations, such as desks, chairs and sewing machines, according to a biography read by Heim.

She was selected by one of the charity’s major donors to visit its Hong Kong headquarters, where during a three-month stay she learned about effective leadership and management. She came home determined to run for office and overcame discrimination to become the first woman councilor in her district and, later, the first woman mayor.

Kalamatila said she came to the U.S. about a month ago to take part in the United Nation’s 68th annual Commission on the Status of Women. The UN’s largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment, the commission took place March 11 through 22.

A friend invited her to visit Reading and Berks County, she said.

“I was really excited and this morning I went around this place,” she said of her tour of City Hall. “I saw a lot of things that I will take back home.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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