Over 1000 children, waving a mixture of British and Zambian flags, lined the road leading to Mukuni Basic School to welcome HRH Princess Royal. The excitement reached fever pitch as the cavalcade of cars pulled into the school grounds. The 4×4, bearing the Royal Standard, stopped at the edge of the red carpet, on loan to us from the Ministry. When the Princess stepped out of the vehicle I felt an overwhelming sense of joy as I welcomed her to The Butterfly Tree. Standing close by The Butterfly Tree volunteers were eagerly waiting to meet The Princess, the women looking resplendent in their colourful chitangys; all of them wearing polo shirts adorned with our striking logo.
I presented the twenty Zambian volunteers to The Princess along with Emma Soames, a trustee of Saga’s Charitable Trust, who is one of our major donors and Stain Musungaila, from Sun International. After the introductions I escorted The Princess Royal into a mud hut where I was able to tell her about the charity’s work in Zambia. I was so impressed with her knowledge and her interest, The Princess Royal is renowned for her work with Save the Children and many other charitable causes. After the briefing we proceeded to the Special Education Unit, where The Princess Royal was introduced to sixteen children who are now receiving an education for the first time. This is the only one of its kind in a Zambian village, thanks to funding from The Besom. ‘Good morning, Ma’am’ greeted The Princess Royal after she left the unit and entered a grade nine classroom during a Maths lesson.
Before being seated under a tented area, The Princess Royal was to receive gifts from Esnat, Angela and Cynthia, the three young girls who inspired the founding of the charity. Next the rich voices of the Mukuni High School choir followed by the traditional dancers and the beating of the drums entertained The Princess, after which a former recipient of The Butterfly Tree’s orphan sponsorship programme, Mudenda Hazyendo, told a moving story about how the charity had supported him. He had passed to go to university to study law; funds were not available so he had accepted the opportunity to go to teacher’s training college, thanks to funding from one of our donor’s, the BFSS. The Province’s Permanent Secretary also heard this story and Mundenda is to be offered a place a Lusaka University.
The performances ended with a powerful poem about orphans, written by Jane Kaye-Bailey and recited by Natasha Mufaya:
Spread Your Wings
I am a butterfly who has emerged from a tree
My wings are developing so I can be free
I am learning and yearning to break the poverty cycle
In order to help those in need like me
As time passes by The Butterfly Tree
Will nurture many more orphans like me
My life is enriched with the education I receive
Soon I can explore what the world can offer me
Once the performances were over, The Princess RoyaI unveiled a plaque before I escorted her down the sandy track to the Mukuni Health Centre. Here seated on the verandah were several young children who had successfully undergone operations and treatment, funded by the charity. I explained the programme and how we had paid for the restoration of the clinic and provided a huge amount of medical supplies and equipment as well as malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention programmes. Finally we proceeded to The Butterfly Tree maternity clinic and women’s shelter, both invaluable additions to a clinic that serves some 7000 people.
The time passed far too quickly and as I thanked HRH for visiting the charity her parting words still echo in my ears ‘Working with orphans is difficult but you seem to have got it right‘ – a compliment indeed!