Hello again, everyone. Hope you’re all well.
There’s been a lot of news since our last update but we must start on a very sad note. On 1 Dec 2021 we lost a very committed, much loved and tremendously admired member of the Project Committee in Chipata, Mrs Juliet Banda. A retired teacher, aged 69, Juliet had a ‘firm but fair’ approach with the children – her sense of fun was accompanied by a gift for dispensing wise advice, always impressing upon the Project’s young people the value and importance of education. Our own memories of her include her warm smile, her enthusiasm, the marvellous welcome we got from her whenever we visited and her wonderful colourful outfits!
Her funeral took place in Chipata on 3 Dec 2021 and she’ll be very much missed by everyone associated with St Paul’s Children’s Project.
You may remember that elections were taking place in Zambia when we published our last update. After many attempts the Opposition, led by Hakainde Hichilema, prevailed and we’ve already seen changes. The Government announced in December 2021 that school fees and PTA fees would be abolished for primary and secondary school pupils with effect from the beginning of the school year in January 2022. Fees remain for those at boarding school and at college.
This is excellent news for students, of course (and for us!), but we were dismayed to find that there’s been a steep increase in the cost of uniforms, shoes and books at the same time.
However, after taking everything into account and carefully doing our sums, we’ve decided we can add some extra children to the Project!
We’ve had five young people leaving in 2021, having finished their studies. Dave finished his university course in mathematics, Nasilele is coming to the end of her journalism course (teaching is finished and she’s currently on attachment, before graduating in June), Amos and Stasilous have completed their teacher training courses, and Matutu finished her nurse training. She’s currently volunteering at Chipata Central Hospital while waiting for the next recruitment round.
We’d planned to take on 5 new children to replace those leaving but, in view of the news on fees, we decided to take a further 10 children (which means we’re now supporting a total of 46 children). We also got news that Sam and Wilson, now well established in their chosen professions (accountancy and medicine, respectively) have both decided to pay for a child’s education themselves – to show their appreciation of what the Project did for them and to help other children in the same position as they once were. Lovely news!!
The young people who are new to the Project are a mix of double orphans, single orphans and children who are vulnerable for various reasons. Christopher, for instance, has lost both parents and is living with his uncle who isn’t working.
Agness is a single orphan whose mother isn’t working.
Other children are living with older brothers, aunts and uncles, who are struggling to provide for them.
Five of the children are starting school in Grade 8 (the start of junior secondary school) and the rest in Grade 10, having passed the exams at the end of Grade 9, the end of junior secondary school. Three of our existing children who sat their Grade 9 exams have all passed – Juliet (pictured, in the uniform of her new school), Patricia and Samuel - and have moved up to Grade 10 this year.
As a result of the increase in numbers, the Committee members have had an even busier time than usual trying to get everyone and everything ready for the start of term this year – having discussions with social services to identify the most vulnerable children in the community, liaising with schools to get places and register the children, then shopping for books, uniforms and shoes…
But there was a late start to the school year, with reopening delayed for 2 weeks (from 10 January to 24 January) because of a surge in Covid cases, in order to put in additional Covid measures and to allow more children (over 12 years old) to get vaccinated.
We’re delighted to report that the flats we built near to the nursing college were completed, with one flat being furnished and let out to nursing students in September. In November we sent money to furnish a second flat and this too now has student tenants in it, providing an income for the Project.
The Project Committee in Chipata was approached by social services this month to see if we could help with food packages as families are short of food. We’ve sent some money for food, which is now being distributed to the families of children we’re supporting.
In view of such need, Malcolm has decided that his fundraising challenge this year will take place during Lent and he’ll try to raise funds for food for our children in Chipata by setting himself the challenge of walking 10,000 steps every day from Ash Wednesday (2 March) until Good Friday (15 April). He has to complete 10,000 steps each day of the six weeks, no matter where he is or what he’s doing (or what the weather’s doing)!
If you’d like to support him in this challenge, you can donate using the link below
or via our Fundraising page.
If anyone can’t donate online but would like to help, you can send us a cheque (made payable to St Paul’s Children’s Project) to the Project at 6 Queensway, Hexham, NE46 3AJ.
Huge thanks as always for helping to make a difference!!
Malcolm and Elaine