From begging orphan to doctor, Anthony Mulenga sees the miracles in his life

Published: Thursday, Aug. 1 2013 5:10 a.m. MDT

Anthony Mulenga, right, shares a laugh with his friend Richard next to the tree in Lusaka, Zambia, that he used to call his "bedroom" as a homeless boy in 1998.

Provided by BJ Warnick

As a young homeless orphan begging for food on the filthy streets of Lusaka, Zambia, Anthony Mulenga remembers the day he resolved to become a doctor.

He was sitting near a traffic light when he noticed three children crossing the road to attend school. They were dressed in uniforms, with backpacks, and looked happy. He wanted to go with them, he said.

“I made a promise,” Mulenga said in recent interview. “If I get to school, I will take advantage of every educational opportunity and be the best student.”

Fifteen years later, Mulenga has fulfilled that promise.

This fall, the 24-year-old will begin an internship as a doctor at the University of Zambia Teaching Hospital.

To reach his incredible goal, Mulenga had to overcome the death of his parents at a very young age and survive life on the streets. His journey required the timely assistance of a charitable organization that helps orphans. He needed the loving assistance of two sisters who mothered him and eventually adopted him into their family. In the end, he also gained a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

“This is a story of hope,” Mulenga said. “Never give up. God has a plan for each of us. He will always provide a way.”


Mulenga’s earliest years are clouded with painful memories. His father, Edward, was a police detective. He had some standing in the southern African community and was somewhat wealthy. But he was openly unfaithful to his wife and abused his son.

Embarrassed and heartbroken, Mulenga’s mother divorced her husband and moved out. He later died of AIDS.

Mulenga’s mother, Mary Kanda, was uneducated and struggled to provide for her young children. AIDS eventually claimed her life as well, leaving 7-year-old Mulenga and his older brother, Michael, homeless.

For the next three or four years, the boys’ lives consisted of trying to stay warm and sleep in boxes, looking for scraps of food among the garbage and enduring abuse from older homeless people who sought to take advantage of them.

“That’s how I thought life was supposed to be,” Anthony Mulenga said.

During those years on the street, it was Michael who ensured that young Anthony had something to eat. Each day as he ventured out to find food, Michael would vehemently instruct his brother not to trust anyone. If he didn’t stay in the ditch, bad things would happen. The concept was pounded into his mind and it would be years before Anthony would be able to trust another person.

Mothers Without Borders

Before she died, Mulenga’s mother told her sons they were destined to do great things.

“She said, ‘My children will either be the president, a doctor or a lawyer,’ ” Mulenga recalled.

Those dreams were difficult to envision while living on the streets of Lusaka.

A short time after Mulenga saw the schoolchildren and made his vow, his life changed when the 11-year-old met Kathy Headlee-Miner.

Headlee-Miner had just founded a new organization that she called “Mothers Without Borders,” a nonprofit charity aimed at assisting orphaned and abandoned children with basic living and educational needs. She saw something special in the young boy and felt he was a prime candidate for rescue.

Because of his “trust issues,” Mulenga said, he initially refused her offer. Headlee-Miner had to track the boy down several times and develop a relationship of trust before Mulenga finally agreed to let her help him get into school.

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