Hi everyone! It’s February, we haven’t had any snow yet this winter (even in the north east!) and the snowdrops are trying hard to persuade us that spring is on its way. In Zambia, however, they’re experiencing serious effects of climate change, with the worst drought for decades. The BBC has reported on the situation in its videos ‘Zambia on the brink of famine’ and ‘Could Victoria Falls dry up?’
While Eastern Province has not been as severely affected as other parts of Zambia (the worst affected areas being around Lusaka and Southern Province), the harvest has been poor and families are struggling to feed their children.
This year, when we sent money for the new academic term, we included a sum for food supplies for each family. Naomi and the Committee went out and bought essentials such as mealie meal (maize flour used to make nshima), sugar, cooking oil and kapenta (a type of fish), and each child in the Project got a ‘Christmas pack’ of clothes and food (including a chicken!). The photo is of Kenka collecting his pack.
The Committee then set about preparing for start of term on 13 January – getting acceptance letters from schools, buying uniforms and shoes, and depositing fees at schools. This year was particularly busy for them as we took eight new children into the Project! Counselling sessions play an important part in preparing for the new year and these took place before shopping for uniforms etc.
In December 2019 we said goodbye to Josephine, Amon, Emmanuel, Mary, Christopher, Jane and Besnart, who’ve all finished their teacher training courses (we wish them well in finding jobs and in their teaching careers!) and also to Willson, who has finished his medical degree. Wow!! It seems a long time since Naomi phoned us on Christmas Day 2012 to tell us Willson had got a place to study medicine at Copperbelt University, but seven years later he’s passed all his exams and is embarking on a year’s (paid) internship in surgery in Ndola. We’re thrilled that the Project has produced its first doctor!!
As we had so many college leavers this year, we were keen to add the equivalent number of children for 2020. The Committee worked very hard to place four children in Grade 7 (Jessy Phiri, Maxwell Banda, Jerad Phiri and Ethen Ngoma) and four in Grade 10 (Chikondi Banda, Bornface Banda, Alfred Banda and Mercy Banda – so many Bandas but from different families! The surname Banda is like Smith in the UK).
Jerad Phiri is 14 years old and a double orphan, living with his grandmother. She looks after four children and sells vegetables in the market but finds it difficult to pay school fees. Jerad is starting in Grade 7 at St Anne’s Primary School in Chipata.
Maxwell Banda is also starting in Grade 7, at Lukhwakwa School. He is 12 years old and living with his grandmother after losing both parents. She cares for nine children, all orphans, and no-one in the family is working.
Mercy Banda is 14 years old and a single orphan living with her mother. She is starting in Grade 10 at Kanjala Secondary School.
Of the other five new children, one is a single orphan living with his mother and four are double orphans (three living with uncles and one with a grandmother).
Thanks to you all, many young Zambian people are having their lives transformed.
We’d like to say a big thank you this time to everyone who’s donated to the Project recently – whether over Christmas or in memory of Elaine’s Mum – and especially to our regular monthly (and annual) givers, who furnish us with the confidence to continue.
We’re pleased to report that the exchange rate (GBP to Zambian kwacha) has been very favourable in recent months so that’s helping the money to go further!
This year’s big fundraising challenge is going to be a cycling one, with Malcolm and Simon planning to tackle Hadrian’s Cycleway, a 174 mile coast to coast route from Ravenglass in Cumbria to South Shields on the north east coast (via Silloth and Carlisle). They’re aiming to complete it in 3 days, starting on Mon 15 June and finishing on Wed 17 June. If you’d like to join them for all or part of the ride, just let us know and we’ll let you have the details.
As always, if anyone has any fundraising ideas, we’d be delighted to hear from you.
And, lastly, just a huge thankyou to everyone for your generosity!
Malcolm and Elaine