I recently returned home after another rewarding visit to Zambia. It is hard to believe the progress we have made. What started off as helping a handful of orphans has now expanded to over twenty schools, seven clinics and more than 100 villages in four Chiefdoms, throughout the Southern Province of Zambia. The distance we are covering is a radius of 200 kilometres from base and thousands more orphaned and vulnerable children are receiving a sound education, improved healthcare and drinking safe, clean water.
Bore holes have been installed at Kauwe and Muchimbala schools with a third one about to be completed at Kanimbwa. Not only do the pupils have access to safe drinking water, but the bore holes will be used to irrigate crops for much needed feeding programmes. I was horrified to learn that some of the food, provided by the World Food Programme, is rotten by the time it reaches the schools.
One Head teacher reported that this year the food provision had been delivered for term one, the second term the maize was stale and the beans were mouldy. When the Head complained he was told by the distributors ‘beggars cannot be choosers – they can eat it!’ Nothing was received for term three. It is heartbreaking, knowing that young school children have no food during the day. Many of them leaving home as early as 4am to return twelve hours later, on any empty stomach. Next month we will increase the number of donated seeds to support this project.
As the rainy season approaches so does the increased risk of contracting malaria. Though prevalent all year, malaria cases increase between November and March. I spent two days distributing mosquito nets to outreach communities. Due to the remoteness of these villages the government do not spray the mud huts putting the people at great risk. Our malaria prevention programmed is vital. Thanks to Saga’s generous funding and most recently Health Express we have been able to cover much of the Mukuni Chiefdom and beyond. Since January no new cases of malaria have been reported in under fives and zero deaths caused by malaria.
While I was in Zambia I was invited by Sky News to give a ‘live’ interview on the much anticipated malaria vaccination, which could be available as soon as 2015. Glaxo,SmithKline has developed the first ever vaccine and I was asked to comment on how effective this could be for our malaria prevention programme.
Malaria remains the biggest killer of man. Every year around 660,000 people, mostly children under the age of five in sub-Sahara Africa, die from this mosquito-borne parasitic disease.
On another serious matter sadly the HIV and AIDS statistics remain far too high, at 27%, in the Mukuni and Livingstone areas. We are continuing our support for children with HIV, increasing our funding for workshops, specifically targeting school children. Mutsa Marau, our HIV prevention coordinator, will return to Zambia next month to offer peer education for HIV prevention. As always I was presented with a long list of orphans who need help. Our sponsor an orphan programme has supported hundreds of individual children in education.
Now it is back to raising funds for mosquito nets, classrooms, bore holes and orphan sponsorship through a number of planned initiatives. Our popular desk top calendar will shortly be available to order. In December we have the opportunity to get donations matched thanks through our partner the Big Give, through their Christmas Challenge initiative. Already we have £5000 in pledges, now we need to raise a further £10,000 in donations from 5th December. If we are successful, the £15,000 will be turned into a massive £30,000. Anyone who would like to help us reach our goal please contact firstname.lastname@example.org