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  • StPaulsChildren

February 2023

Hi everyone. As we slide through a winter of unrest here in the UK and embrace the snowdrops and daffodils heralding spring, out in Chipata it’s the middle of the rainy season, with temperatures currently in the mid 20s and no strikes that we know of...

The academic year in Zambia began in the week commencing 9 January and the Committee have had an extremely busy few weeks settling everyone into their schools (new schools in some cases) and ensuring they have everything they need for their studies. Here are a few of our young people at Chipata Skills Secondary School at the beginning of term, with our Committee chair Naomi (centre), the school principal and the guidance teacher.

Also pictured are Purity and Maxwell collecting uniforms and school supplies ready for the start of term.

In our February newsletter, we often bring news of new children who have joined the Project in January, but this year is a bit different. As a result of disruption to school years caused by Covid and lockdowns, we had none of our 46 students finishing college in December 2022 and leaving the Project, so we haven’t been looking for replacements. However, the committee in Chipata were keen to send 10 students to skills training (making it easier for them to find employment), and it was decided to send 5 school leavers and 5 additional students (to be identified by social services) to do vocational courses lasting 6 months. Three students started their courses in January, namely Ireen (pictured),

studying food and nutrition, Joyce (studying nutrition) and Rabbecca, who is doing tailoring. The other students will start in April. We wish them all well.

We hear from Naomi that Matutu, who was recruited as a nurse following her training, is doing well at Chipata Central Hospital (and enjoying finally being on the payroll!). We also hear that Sam, who joined the Project in 2006 as one of our original 10 children, is now working as senior auditor at the Ministry of Education headquarters in Lusaka. He continues to help our children with their education (as does Wilson, who’s working as a surgeon at a hospital in Mongu, Western Province).

We usually start to prepare the budget for the following year in October of each year, and this time, as we did so, we had some amazing news! Because of the rental income which the Project in Chipata now receives from the shops (all 4 shop units are now occupied) and from the student flats, the Committee decided they could contribute to costs for 2023. The flats are currently housing the full complement of 18 students and rent is paid to the Project directly from the College (a good arrangement), but there isn’t any income when the college is closed, e.g. during the whole of December. Nevertheless, the Committee in Chipata carefully did their sums and when we sent money for Term 1 of 2023, we sent only three quarters of what was required, with the Project in Chipata paying the rest. Wow!! What a big milestone for them in their move towards self-sustainability. Their very hard work is paying off! We’re delighted that their thoughtful and enterprising plans for the Project are coming to fruition.

Sadly, as in many countries around the world, there has been a lot of concern about food prices in Zambia. Several factors, including the high cost of farming inputs, the high cost of transportation (due to escalating fuel costs) and also poor farming policies, have combined to make food very expensive. We had sent some money for food in 2022 but the Committee alerted us to the fact that families were struggling again and worked out how much it would cost to provide each child with a food package to cover the months Feb to April 2023. We responded quickly and the Committee set about buying food for everyone (having just finished buying uniforms, books etc!).

The photo above is of committee member Mrs Zulu buying mealie meal. Each child received a sack of mealie meal (maize flour), cooking oil, salt, soya pieces, sugar, beans and kapenta (a type of dried fish). Here are Ireen, Purity and Jerad receiving their food packs (that sack of mealie meal looks heavy!).

Of course, we couldn’t provide any of this help without your support. As well as our wonderful regular donors who contribute every month, we’ve recently had some very generous one-off donations from individuals, so huge thanks to you all. We were also lucky enough to be included in the list of charities to benefit from the Hexham Abbey charity fund in 2023 – and the Hexham Abbey bellringers donated to us instead of exchanging Christmas cards. Such brilliant support! Thank you everybody!! Best wishes

Malcolm and Elaine

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