Hello again to our supporters! Hope everyone’s ok. It’s summer and in the UK there’s continuing political strife and accompanying uncertainty. In such unsettling times, it might be nice to focus on somewhere else in the world for a while…
Well, in Zambia, where Term 3 begins on 9 September, there is good news from the Government!! Since our last newsletter the Minister of General Education has announced that, in a bid to ensure that education is accessible to all, they’ve revised school fees. Effective from Term 2 2019, secondary schools can’t charge more than 150 kwacha per term (about £10 at current exchange rates) in rural schools and 200 per term in urban schools. In boarding schools the maximum is 1,200 kwacha per term. Grade 9 exam fees have also been reduced. Primary education is already free, but pupils must pay a PTA fee, which some families find prohibitive.
This is good news for the Project and means that our money can go further. There doesn’t seem to have been any reduction in fees at teacher training colleges, however, where many of our young people are studying and which are very expensive. But one step at a time!!
There has been a small reduction in fees for nurse training (which is even more expensive than teacher training!), which is great news for Matutu, who began a three year nursing course in July 2018.
Matutu joined the Project in 2016 in Grade 11 at Hillside Secondary School when she was living with her grandmother, her parents having both died when she was in Grade 7. Her grandmother, who was retired but not yet receiving her pension, was struggling to look after the orphans in her care.
We ourselves have friends who are grandparents and who’ve been making amazing efforts to support their children and grandchildren through difficult times recently, and it’s made us reflect again on the role of grandparents in Zambia. As we’ve said before, they’re often called upon to take on a full-time parenting role for the children of their sons and daughters who have died, and they struggle to cope financially.
Matutu’s grandmother must have been very relieved when Matutu received help from St Paul’s Children’s Project to continue her education, and then extremely proud when she got excellent grades in her school-leaving exams. Her grades were good enough to secure a place at law school but Matutu decided to train to be a nurse.
After her first year at St Francis’ Hospital in Katete, Matutu recently brought her results to show Naomi – she was the best student in her year in both practical and theory! Brilliant!!
Matutu is the Project’s first trainee nurse, but several students expressed an interest in becoming nurses when we spoke to them last year (perhaps inspired by Naomi?). There is, of course, a critical shortage of nurses in Zambia, as well as teachers.
Nasilele, meanwhile, has started a course in journalism this year after finishing school last December. A double orphan like Matutu, she was also being looked after by her grandmother (who was caring for 5 other children) when she joined the Project in 2010. She’s our first trainee journalist, and we hear that she’s enjoying her course, already visiting radio and TV stations to see how they operate.
We met both Nasilele and Matutu last year when we visited Chipata. They are great examples of the benefits of education – equipping students not just with knowledge but with the confidence and self-esteem to make their way in the world. And it’s especially important for girls who all too often find themselves at risk of early marriage, Zambia having one of the highest child marriage rates in the world.
What a difference you’re making with your support!
On the fundraising front:
This time we’d like to say a huge thank you to Julie, who had a special birthday this year and asked friends and family to donate to the Project instead of buying presents. What generous friends!! Thanks also to Hexham Abbey bell ringers who again donated to us instead of buying each other Christmas cards, and thank you as always to those of you who give a regular monthly donation – it’s absolutely invaluable to the work we do.
The final total for our St Oswald’s Way challenge is an amazing £1,302.50 so thank you all for every penny of that. Malcolm’s feet are now fully recovered (3 lots of hospital dressings and a course of antibiotics later) and we’ve just about stopped having nightmares about being chased by bullocks…
And the fantastic news is that we’ve completed the challenge! On Friday 23 August we set out at 8.30am and got to the end of St Oswald’s Way at Heavenfield at 5.45pm (19 miles further on). There were a couple of incidents involving trapped sheep, barbed wire and hurdling a ditch but, happily, no injuries and no close encounters with bullocks… Phew!
The cross in the photo marks the site of the Battle of Heavenfield (AD 634) and was apparently where Oswald prayed with his troops before battle commenced.
If you’d like to make a donation – or recommend us to a friend – and you’re unable to donate online, please contact us for the Project bank account details, or you can send a cheque (made out to St Paul’s Children’s Project) to the address on the Contact page of this website.
If you’re a taxpayer and you haven’t yet made a gift aid declaration (can now be made orally as long as we keep a confirmation in writing), please contact us as, under the Gift Aid scheme, we’re able to claim an extra 25% on top of your donation (which makes a huge difference to our fundraising!).
And, finally, if anyone would like to organise their own fundraiser or has any ideas, just let us know.
On behalf of every young person we support, thanks again. We couldn’t do it without you lovely people!
Malcolm and Elaine