My recent trip to Zambia proved to be both fruitful and challenging. With persistent heavy showers throughout the month, driving to some to the outreach villages was difficult to say the least. The six major projects initiated in 2010 are now complete – a 1×3 classroom block for Mukuni, upgrading of Siamasimbi and Kamwi schools with new classrooms, teachers’ houses and latrines, an entire new school for Mandandi, a pre-school for Machenje and a staff house for N’songwe clinic. This was achieved by substantial grant aid from the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission.
Sadly in the mainstream school many children who had passed to go into the next grade failed to do so due to lack of funds and have not been able to attend school this term. The Butterfly Tree has offered to support a further thirty pupils in addition to the four hundred who have received orphan sponsorship. Fifty of these orphans are being supported by a group of people from Australia.
The most rewarding part of my time in Zambia was to see the Special Education classroom, funded by The Besom, in full use. Stanley Safari Lodge provided the equipments and furnishings. To see these children with impaired hearing and learning difficulties is a humbling experience and a rare opportunity for children in remote villages. Fountaindale School in Nottinghamshire organised a teacher exchange to assist this program, both parties benefitted from this experience – it was a pleasure to welcome Reverend Presley Mulenga and Thomas Chanda to England in February and to join the UK teachers during their visit to Mukuni.
Some of you may remember the plight of the premature baby boys who lost their mother and triplet sister in childbirth. I am delighted to say that after five months of providing powdered milk, clothing and equipment the twins are strong and healthy. Funding healthcare continues to be one of our main priorities – the invaluable under-fives feeding program, the provision of mosquito nets, and treatment for sick children and most importantly HIV/AIDS prevention support.
On the 8th March I hosted a lunch and workshop in recognition of World Women’s Day. Many of the key issues were discussed, predominantly the need to empower women. We have initiated a number of sustainable income-generating enterprises through micro-financing. One of these is a goats’ milking project funded by Margaret Bax and Casey Short.
Twins Boys – Vincent & Elvis World Women’s Day
Once again I was able to escort a couple of Saga groups to see our projects. Saga Charitable Trust continues to generously support our malaria program and in addition they are donating $5 for every Saga tourist to visit Mukuni Village. Many of these visitors have given individual donations or sponsor an orphan.
We are being inundated by requests for people who want to volunteer in Zambia. Most recently two medical students from Sydney worked in the clinic and Charlotte and Alissa from London who spent four weeks teaching at Kamwi School. This month they are walking to the top of Kilimanjaro to raise funds for The Butterfly Tree. Brendan Poynton, who is raising funds for a Music Centre at Mukuni, is holding monthly music events in London – there are many others who are working hard to support our cause.
We have a number of local volunteers helping The Butterfly Tree in Zambia and one that I am extremely proud of is Jacob Siatubitu. Jacob was sponsored by The Butterfly Tree to attend High School. After receiving good grades in all subjects he has applied to go into nursing. To gain experience while he is awaiting his interview, Jacob volunteers daily at Mukuni Health Centre cycling from his home in Kamwi Village, where he looks after his elderly grandmother.
Charlotte teaching netball – Kamwi Jacob registering patients – Mukuni clinic
Thanks to another generous donation from the Jersey Overseas Aid Commission 2011 has some exciting prospects in store – three new schools are to be constructed; a bore hole and a number of latrines in the Mukuni and Musokatwane Chiefdoms. A further bore hole and latrines have been donated by Just a Drop. Thank you to all of our donors, supporters and volunteers who has helped us to reach out to more orphaned and vulnerable children in these remote villages of Zambia.