My recent trip to Zambia was probably the most challenging to date mainly due to the continued rainy season. Global warming seems to be taking its toll on the nation, most especially in the Southern Province. After barely no rainfall in December and January, February and March certainly made up for it, though it came too late to salvage the withered crops. Later planting also suffered after the heavy rains caused severe flooding.
Driving off road can often be hazardous at best, but more so when you are heading out to schools where bridges and streams must be crossed. Every time I drive to Nyawa more of the notorious bridge has been washed away, but on one occasion a whole section of it had disappeared after a heavy downpour the night before, making the 100 km trek a waste of time! Not to be defeated, I returned the following week and pleased to see that the community had attempted to reconstruct the bridge, we only made it to Bunsanga and Nyawa as the streams on the track to Muchambila and other schools were too high to cross!
It’s always a joy to visit this area and know that the projects we are funding are really appreciated and making a lasting change. The Nyawa people are hardworking and encourage their children to be educated. We always receive a warm welcome and the people readily offer free labour for our constructions. Currently we are further developing Muchambila Junior School with the addition of a teacher’s house, Singwamba with a classroom block, using funds donated by George Spencer Academy, and for Bunsanga, the community now has a new school thanks to Attraction Tickets Direct offering further support.
In Mukuni Chiefdom Chaba School has a new classroom block and latrines after another grant was approved by the British and Foreign School Society. The Science laboratory at River View School is taking shape enabling this the school to become an examination centre, which save the pupils the 60 km journey to sit their exams. River View and Chaba as well as Mambova Schools were given texts books donated by the Dawson Group.
On the further education front it was great to catch up with our young peer educators who are all engaged in skill-based courses. Besides learning to become builders, electricians, plumbers and tailors the group continue to volunteer for The Butterfly Tree, Mafian and Natasha taking leading roles within the charity. This talented group have really impressed me with their compassion and commitment to helping the cause.
For the communities four more houses were donated by Motive Real Estate. It was great to again meet up with John Staab, the company founder, who is as keen as ever to improve the lives of widows and orphans. His partner, Jessica participated in a workshop for rural women. One of our UK volunteers, Valerie Redfern, joined me for part of the trip and together we distributed hundreds of Inner Wheel Club’s knitted blankets, jumpers and toys to villages throughout the District. A wonderful donation from Stratford-upon-Avon Reformed Church paid for further blankets and maize, handing these out to the elderly people was a humbling experience.
Despite all the challenges, as always, the trip was so worthwhile. Seeing first-hand how The Butterfly Tree’s work continues to improve the lives of some of the poorest people on the planet makes me want to do so much more. Funds are now in place for more classrooms, boreholes, and the new clinic at Sikaunswe, funded by GOAC, is underway after a delay caused by the rains. What made the trip even more rewarding was hearing that a record had been broken in Moomba Chiefdom. After implementing our malaria prevention programme ‘the lowest ever number of malaria cases had been recorded for the past three months!’
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