I have just returned from Zambia after a very successful and rewarding trip visiting orphans, distributing food and sourcing new projects. I am delighted to report that the drought has broken and though there are still food shortages, there is now a great deal of hope!
The first week was spent delivering bags of maize to people in remote villagers who have been living on wild fruits and roots. Sadly, deaths have been reported due to hunger, and from people eating poisonous fruits and roots. Some crops, which were planted early, are failing as the rainy season came very late. However, those that were planted later in the season are flourishing and should soon be ready to harvest.
It was wonderful to see the lush green vegetation after the long dry spell. Driving to Bunsanga, in Nyawa Chiefdom, it was noticeable that people are still suffering. We met four men who were droving their cattle 65 km to the abattoir to get money to feed their children. Cattle are prize possessions, kept to provide funds for college fees or other important matters. These men had not eaten for two days – we happily shared our food with them and other people along the way.
On arrival in Bunsanga we inspected the newly finished health post and staff house, funded by grant aid from GOAC, and a borehole. The Ministry of Health has appointed an experienced nurse, who will be assisted by trained community health workers. The facility will provide antenatal, postnatal, and under-five’s clinics, vaccinations, and general practice. 1,000 mosquito nets were included in the grant for the clinic and towards our ‘nets for schools‘ programme. Bunsanga, Malimba and Chilaba schools are the beneficiaries.
Later in the week dozens of people came on bicycles from Chuunga Village, 40km from Mukuni, to collect bags of maize. Despite the difficult journey over rough terrain everyone was overjoyed to receive our donation. A further distribution also took place in several villages in Sekute Chiefdom, where families told us they had not eaten a proper meal for two months.
For the past few days we have been working with Khalsa Aid International, a UK charity that specialises in emergency relief. After appealing to the organisation they generously agreed to offer support to some of the hardest-hit areas, where we work, in Nyawa Chiefdom. The food parcels were given to several thousand households, with two of our Zambian volunteers helping with logistics and, providing assistance.
Much of my time in Zambia was spent meeting the orphans we are supporting, mainly at Mukuni, Kamwi, Ngandu and River View Schools. This past year our priority has been to ensure that they all have food as many of them live alone or with elderly grandparents. The new school year commenced in January and some of the orphans progressed to grades 8 and 10 after sitting exams. Unfortunately, some failed and will re-sit their exams later in the year. The drought has worsened the poverty in most areas and many parents have been unable to enrol their children in school this year. However, we recently had an increase in people wanting to sponsor orphans, subsequently we will continue to include all children that are vulnerable.
More children in Kazungula will shortly be able to attend school. Since our involvement at River View School the enrolment is now 1,600 pupils. The facility in Kazungula, the only township where we have a project, cannot take any more pupils. The new satellite school, funded by the Hilary and Neil Charitable Foundation, is almost complete and will take the overflow from the lower grades as well as children who have never been to school. The boarding shelters, funded by the same donors, accommodates over 40 pupils from outreach villages.
Twenty houses for orphans, disabled people and the elderly are currently being constructed by our youth builders thanks to a donation from Motive Real Estate, Texas. Funds have been donated to build a shop/workroom for uniform-making in Mukuni Village and five girls are to attend college from grant aid received from TheirWorld.
Despite all the challenges I cannot stress enough how vital your support has been and how it helping to transform lives. The appreciation shown by the communities during the emergency food relief has been overwhelming. Our Zambian volunteers have worked tirelessly to get food to some of the remotest villages in the Kazungula and Kalomo Districts. Thousands of children are receiving advanced education where previously they were taught in a mud and pole schools by untrained teachers. Healthcare has also been improved at Simonga Village thanks to the addition of a maternity ward and mother’s shelter, funded by Blooms the Chemist, Australia.
Our aim for the coming months is to provide food security for schools and communities, install more boreholes and expand educational facilities in rural areas. Thank you to everyone who has supported The Butterfly Tree.
Jane Kaye-Bailey – Founder