I have just returned from a rewarding yet very challenging trip to Zambia. After three weeks enjoying temperatures reaching over thirty degrees, it was a shock to come back to the UK to snow and below zero temperatures. As always there are many projects to check on and new ones to initiate.
Education is foremost in making progress, but more importantly health concerns have to be dealt with. A number of children had to be referred to hospital suffering with various conditions ranging from Cerebral Palsy to stomach ulcers; some had waited for many weeks due to not having transport money to reach Livingstone. In addition there were several babies who needed support.
During my first week in Mukuni a woman had walked for three hours from Ndele to ask for my help. Last year a fifteen year old school girl had fallen pregnant in her village. During the girl’s pregnancy her mother, who she lived with, sadly passed away. Some months later the girl herself tragically died in childbirth. For the past two months the guardian had to beg for contributions from the community, so that she could buy the costly formula and care for this helpless infant. It was heartbreaking to see this beautiful baby orphaned at such a delicate age and it was agreed that the charity would support her.
March 2013 Newsletter: Baby Mary, aged 2 months from Ndele Village
The rainy season in Zambia ends in March. Unfortunately the rains, which started in October, have been intermittent – either too heavy or insufficient. This means that the crops will yield only around 30 – 40% of what is normally expected. This will result in a great deal of hunger, if not famine, amongst the rural communities that depend on maize as their staple food. I came across many hungry children living on just one meal a day, some of them walking for three hours to get to school.
Thanks to donations from an existing supporter and some generous tourists I met during my stay, we were able to distribute bags of ‘mealie meal’ (ground maize) to vulnerable families in both Mukuni and Kamwi Villages.
One of our volunteers delivering mealie meal to a vulnerable family
World Women’s Day is celebrated every year on 8th March and as always I hosted a function for the rural women. Over 100 women from neighbouring Kamwi, Nsongwe and Machenje Villages, marched through Mukuni to reach the Palace for a workshop followed by lunch. This year’s theme ‘The Gender Agenda’ – ‘Time to end violence against women’ was discussed along with issues concerning HIV prevention in women and teenage pregnancies.
Mukalya, the Chief’s wife, was invited to speak and Mutsa Marau and Tope Medupin, two of our volunteers from London who spoke about their topic on HIV Prevention through Peer Education. As a result of this event Mutsa and Tops also held a workshop for both boys and girls on problems concerning teenage pregnancies.
World Women’s Day – Mukuni Village
Despite all the hardships it was great to see all the progress. A boarder’s shelter, along with over 1000 mosquito nets, in the Mukuni Chiefdom has been donated by Saga. A further 1300 nets, as a result of Marilee and Grant’s fundraising efforts in Canada, were distributed amongst four rural clinics in the Sekute Chiefdom.
Five new community houses have been completed, two of them to house young widows each with several children. Sibbulo Village has an entire new school and bore hole.
A clinic, which comprises of a maternity unit, women’s shelter, three staff houses, latrines and a bore hole will be opening in May. This will help people who are currently walking over thirty kilometres to seek healthcare and treatment. Both these projects have been generously funded by grant aid from the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission.
New bore hole and Indian hand pump for the Mahalulu Health Centre
As always there are many more orphans seeking sponsorship. Some children are returned to the villages from townships when their parents pass away. It is really tough for these children and also for their grandparents who become their sole guardians. I met one elderly man whose daughter and son-in-law had died as a result of AIDS related illnesses. His grandchildren had been brought to him from Sesheke, some two hundred kilometres from Mukuni. A neighbour had kindly offered him his mud hut as the old man did not have suitable accommodation. We will soon provide a house for this family along with support for the children.
Young children from Sesheke brought back to Mukuni
These are the really vulnerable people who desperately need funding. Working at grass root level, we can identify the real need and ensure that all donations go directly to the cause, without deducting costly administration and personal fees.
We have had tremendous support from our donors, fundraisers and volunteers. Please continue to help us to reach out to more vulnerable children in these remote villages of Zambia.