The new school year started on the 2nd of February and thanks to donations from our supporters at least 30 schools are to receive PPE to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the classroom. The new variant of COVID-19 from South Africa has caused an increase in new cases at the beginning of the year but this appears to be stabilizing and numbers are on the decline. However, protection is paramount for pupils and teachers.
We have some exciting developments taking place all over the Kazungula District. An extra classroom block, science lab, boarding houses, toilets, and a food production unit at Musokotwane Secondary School will provide advanced and extra facilities to cater for a greater number of pupils. The Murphy Family Foundation have generously funded this as well as a recent donation for Mathematics textbooks and PPE.
Examination results are currently being given out and one of the hardest subjects to pass is Mathematics. After doing some research I learnt that the main reason for poor results is lack of textbooks. In most cases pupils must learn from the blackboard and only have notes for revision and homework. Therefore, we are currently raising funds to provide Maths books in rural schools, the donations given to each schools will be monitored and evaluated at the end of the year.
The new school year commenced a month later than usual due to the pandemic. Once again, we are sponsoring over 200 orphans and vulnerable children. Thank you to everyone who supports this programme, most especially the Mukuni Village Fund, Australia, who sponsor 40 pupils. We are also funding six students to study at college and two at university.
A new teacher’s house for Muyunda, a remote community in Nyawa will soon be completed to add to the classroom block we opened in 2019, and a classroom block at Nguba has now been finished. We are still locating schools in remote areas where the only building is a mud and pole structure, built by the locals and run by untrained community teachers. Due to the weak kwacha, we are able to build facilities much cheaper than in the past.
To create sustainability, we help communities to help themselves, thanks to our Canadian partner, Give a Hand, we have two substantial projects being created for women. In Muyunda the beekeeping project for 200 women is doing well. Following on from the workshop and toilets 200 hives were made, a borehole and ponds were installed and a plantation of moringa trees has been added for protection, flowers for the bees and nutrition for the community. The aim is to make and sell honey, soap, candles and crayons.
In another area, a project called ‘Mangoes of Hope’ in Musokotwane in Chiefdom, also funded by Give a Hand is underway. Our trained youth builders are currently constructing a workshop, drying area and toilets. Once complete 200 women will be able to produce dried mangoes, jams, chutneys, and tea, and make colourful bags and basket ware for packaging.
After 35 years teaching in rural areas Presley Mulenga has retired. I met Presley in 2006 when I first visited Mukuni Junior School where he was Head Teacher for thirteen years, after which he was transferred to River View in 2014. I have worked closely with him for 15 years, his selfless dedication to education and commitment in helping orphans and vulnerable children has impressed me most of all. Having Presley on our team is invaluable. He gave me an insight into the education system in Zambia, helped me to identify areas lacking in schools, and to initiate the orphan sponsorship programme. We wish his all the very best in his retirement and delighted that he will remain as a Trustee for The Butterfly Tree NGO in Zambia.