Shall we start with some good news?
This year’s fundraiser finally went ahead (having been postponed from June) and our intrepid cyclists gamely pedalled their way along the 174 miles of Hadrian’s Cycleway in 3 days (with only one puncture, a morning of rain and two torrential downpours to make it more challenging). Malcolm and Simon set off on Sunday 16 August from Glannaventa Bath House in Ravenglass, heading up the west coast to Silloth. From there they cycled along the Solway Firth and through Carlisle, before picking up Hadrian’s Wall and heading east. After some formidable hills on Tuesday morning (but no pushing of bikes – impressive!), they reached Hexham (where a welcome committee was waiting to give them some encouragement – thanks everyone!) and then followed the Tyne Valley to Newcastle and on to North Shields, to board the ferry to South Shields and (finally!) the finish at Arbeia Roman Fort! Elation!!
They then had to ride the 10 miles back to Newcastle to catch the train to Hexham. Ouch!
Huge thanks to everyone who supported their bike ride. So far, we’ve raised (with gift aid) more than £1,600 for Project funds and you can still donate in recognition of Simon and Malcolm’s marathon endeavour:
Since our last update in February, we’ve unveiled our new website – we hope you like the new design!
We’ve also changed our online donation platform (to CAF Donate) as wonderful.org closed at the end of March.
And, of course, we had no inkling at the time of our last update that the following months would prove to be so challenging – and that Covid-19 would change lives all around the world.
In Zambia the Government acted quickly and closed schools on 20 March as part of efforts to control the spread of coronavirus. The Project Committee made sure that children in the Project, especially those in exam classes, had access to tuition during the closure. The President later announced that examination classes in both secondary and primary schools (Grades 12, 9 and 7), as well as final years in college, could open on 1 June on condition that schools enforce public health guidelines.
As of 19 August, Zambia had 10,218 cases of Covid-19 and 266 deaths, and the number of cases continues to increase rapidly. A recent UN report on Zambia outlines the economic and social impact of the pandemic on the country, including the potential risks to children (especially girls) of prolonged school closure:
Our own students are having to wait to see when they might be able to resume their education. School leavers who were expecting to start courses in April or July are having to wait until at least January and teacher recruitment is also postponed until next year.
In February we reported that Willson had finished his medical degree and was embarking on an internship in Ndola, specialising in surgery.
In April the Government decided to scale up the fight against coronavirus by recruiting many more doctors and health workers and Willson was invited to apply for a post. He was hoping (as we were) that he might obtain a position in a hospital in Eastern Province (even in Chipata!) but on 27 May we learnt that he’d been posted to Lewanika General Hospital in Mongu, Western Province (a long way from Chipata!). However, we have news that he’s settling well. Here he is (on right in photo), with other new recruits. We wish him all the best!
In other medical news, Ruth, who has been travelling to Lusaka for regular medical reviews after having open heart surgery in 2016, was found to need a pacemaker. On 21 May she had a pacemaker inserted at the University Teaching Hospital. She stayed with her aunt in Lusaka while she went for regular checks following the procedure and the good news is that she has now made a full recovery.
We look forward to seeing what training Ruth will embark on (once colleges reopen!) now that she’s finished her school education.
We’ll finish this update with the fervent hope that the disruption to everyone’s education will end in the not too distant future -
and with a big thank you to you all for continuing your magnificent support of St Paul’s Children’s Project.
Best wishes to everyone
Malcolm and Elaine