I returned to the UK this week after spending the past month in Zambia helping to distribute food, hosting donors, visiting current projects, and sourcing new ones. Never before have we been so busy as this year, nor had to deal with emergency relief aid as a result of the severe drought.
As I approach Livingstone, the bustling tourist capital of Zambia, the only obvious sign from the effects of the drought is the one set of traffic lights not in operation due to load-shedding. This is because the Karibe Dam is so low that the government is restricting the use of power. Driving towards the Victoria Falls, the mighty Zambezi River, though lower than usual, still has an abundance of water. Driving to the villages paints a very different story.
Apart from a couple of projects on the outskirts of town, The Butterfly Tree’s work focuses on rural communities, some are very remote, accessible only by 4×4, and in some areas the tracks become inaccessible during the rainy season. Out of all our projects clean water is obviously the most essential. With sufficient funds to install nine boreholes this year I was on a mission to supply water to those most in need. Such is the demand for boreholes this season that we incurred a great deal of challenges working with drilling companies.
Accompanied by donors ‘Belgian Lawyers for Africa‘, who donated three boreholes, I drove to Dundumwezi, a remote community 230km from our base and 80km from the town of Kaloma. On entering the village we were welcomed by the community who were so excited to see rare visitors and, most especially, the drilling rig. Hour after hour we waited for that magical moment when mud, then water shoots out of the ground.
By 6pm the look of despondency on the people’s faces was apparent. After drilling 60 metres, no water was to be found, after a further 20 metres, still no signs of water. By 7pm it was pitch dark, and we needed to get back to base. We arrived in Livingstone at 11.15pm, totally exhausted! Not to be defeated a further journey was made two days later when a second siting was drilled as well as a third one at Cilebe School. Heartbreakingly, the two day’s efforts resulted in all three drills being unsuccessful. With rivers and streams totally dry, these people must continue walking 10km to the borehole, which we installed last year, at Zalu School.
After the disappointment in Nyawa Chiefdom we headed to Senkobo Village in Mukuni Chiefdom. Water was easily found much to the delight of the Belgian Lawyers, who also donated food for communities in need of maize. In addition, they donated seeds and fertilizer for fifteen schools to help create sustainable feeding programmes. The World Food Programme no longer provides a daily meal for Zambian school children, recommending that schools have gardens to grow their own food. The ATD Foundation has offered assistance for this project.
The hunger was evident in every village I visited. Thanks to the tremendous support the charity has received, most recently emergency relief grant aid from GOAC, we continue to distribute bags of ground maize to communities in Nyawa, Sekute and Mukuni Chiefdoms. The Headmen in each community select the most vulnerable, including the elderly, and registers are kept. This project is also very challenging as the National Milling Company in Livingstone provides maize for both the Southern and Western Provinces, therefore the demand is exceptionally high. However, we are reaching out to thousands of people, ensuring all our orphans receive sufficient food, and helping schools with their feeding programmes.
As regards our health projects we are making sound progress. Our latest developments include a maternity ward and mother’s shelter at Simonga health post, and a new health post and staff house at Bunsanga. Mosquito nets were donated to pupils at Kamwi and Mambova Schools for our ‘mosquito nets for schools’ programme, thanks to donations from the Society of the Sacred Heart and Royal Leamington Spa Rotary Club.
On the education front a boarding house has been completed at Mukuni Secondary School, a classroom block at River View thanks to Nick Bousliman’s generous donation and two boarding houses are currently under construction at River View Secondary School, funded by the Hilary and Neil Charitable Foundation. The Foundation has also recently supported the food crisis and our malaria prevention programmes. Muyundu Community School has a new classroom block and latrines and Kawewa Primary School Development, funded by the BFSS, has now been completed.
This was the toughest and most humbling trip I have made to Zambia in thirteen years, however it was wonderful to see the progress being made and to be able to help people in desperate need of food and water. In temperatures soaring to 40 degrees, for almost a month I worked tirelessly with the team in Zambia, who are the most amazing people you could ever wish to meet. Much of the praise I receive is dedicated to them, without their hard work, trust and committment, The Butterfly Tree would not have been able to achieve so much.
Jane Kaye-Bailey – Founder
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