Today marks the United Nations World Youth Skills Day, paying tribute to the resilience and creativity of youth through the coronavirus crisis. According to the UN: ‘young people aged 15-24 have been even more severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis than adults. UNESCO estimates that schools were either fully or partially closed for more than 30 weeks between March 2020 and May 2021 in half the countries of the world. In late June, 19 countries still had full school closures, affecting nearly 157 million learners. And 768 million more learners were affected by partial school closures.’
After a recent third wave thankfully Zambia’s COVID-19 cases are decreasing but the economy has suffered badly. Schools and colleges have been closed for the past month though examination grades will shortly reopen, as the other grades are currently being reviewed. As always we are in daily communication with our Zambian team who have been able to continue implementing our projects, mindful not to take any risks.
Thanks to The Murphy Family Foundation, Theirworld, and private donors more youths are to be offered colleges and university places. The majority of courses will be skilled based, which will include computing, hotel management, carpentry and welding. Youths that we have previously supported obtained employment and some are now building schools and clinics and earning a regular income.
On the health front I am delighted to announce that once again we have received a substantial grant from the Guernsey Overseas Aid and Development Commission. The project includes a clinic, two staff houses, borehole, a biodigester for waste, equipment and mosquito nets. Katondo and remote communities in this area Nyawa Chiefdom will be the beneficiaries, once complete the Ministry of Health will provide trained medical staff. This facility will help to prevent severe sickness and loss of life, as patients will be treated at an early stage to avoid complications, especially in cases of malaria. In addition maternity care will help to reduce mother and infant mortality and more number children will be vaccinated against preventable diseases.
We continue to reach to more schools in rural areas in need of expanding thanks to generous donations recently received from Kampango, and Common Grounds Charity Cafe, run by volunteers in Kinross, who donate profits to projects such as The Butterfly Tree. Sadly, one of our regular donors who had volunteered as a teacher in Zambia several years ago, passed away. Much to our surprise we received a substantial donation from his estate, which will be used to expand Sichifulo School. With over 900 pupils, some grades have 120 pupils and insufficient teaching space, consequently the school is in desperate need of extra classrooms. A new classroom block will be built in memory of this thoughtful teacher.
According to the United Nation’s International Labour Organisation, globally, youth employment fell 8.7 per cent in 2020, compared with 3.7 per cent for adults. Our aim is to encourage the orphans and vulnerable children we have supported to continue their education after completing high school. In addition to those currently attending colleges and university, at least 20 more youths will be able to enrol in further education to give them a better chance of employment and sustainability.