Fifteen years ago today I flew to Zambia for the first time, little did I know that it would not only change my life for the better, but it would result in helping to change the lives of thousands of orphans and vulnerable children in one of the poorest countries on the planet.
Since the founding of the charity in 2006, and subsequent registration in 2007, The Butterfly Tree has considerably expanded. It began with sponsoring a few orphans in Mukuni Village and over the years it has developed into an accomplished organisation. Our work covers a vast area of the Kazungula District where we have built new schools and health centres, installed boreholes and water reticulation systems, initiated feeding programmes, implemented an advanced malaria prevention programme, and build houses for orphans and the elderly.
What has helped to sustain the charity is using volunteers and registering our own NGO in Zambia, as well as the continual support from our donors, many of them have been with us from the beginning. Along the way we have gained hundreds of donors from all over the world. I am totally overwhelmed by the support we have received, and by the dedication of our wonderful trustees and volunteers who make everything happen. They have risen to the challenges of working in an area of extreme poverty, where both HIV and malaria are prevalent. More recently they have helped to raise funds, and provided emergency relief for communities, suffering from food shortages, due to a severe drought.
Now with the COVID-19 pandemic we are facing a challenge on a scale that none of us have ever before experienced. HIV started off as an unknown virus, but now thanks to medical advancement and the development of antiretroviral drugs, people can live long and healthy lives. Amazingly, in barely a year since the pandemic was announced by the World Health Organisation, the coronavirus vaccines are being widely distributed. Zambia is expected to start the vaccination roll out in February, which will be a great relief as the new coronavirus variant from South Africa is spreading rapidly.
Due to the recent increase in coronavirus cases in Zambia the opening on the new school year has been postponed until the 1st February. Projects that are taking place out in the open, such as the construction of the school expansion at Musokotwane, the teacher’s house and Muyunda, community houses for widows and orphans, and both the beekeeping and mango projects, will continue. As always we are mindful of the need to protect our volunteers and beneficiaries therefore, as before we are providing PPE to as many rural health centres as possible, and to schools when they open next month.
In 2021 our aim is to sponsor more orphans and continue to fund eight colleges and universities students. Fourteen pupils who were under sponsorship completed high school in December, without our support they would have dropped out of school at an earlier stage. Though the orphan sponsorship is the core of The Butterfly Tree, our WATER, FOOD, HEALTH and EDUCATION projects have a significant impact on vulnerable children in remote areas of Zambia. We have many more exciting projects ready to implement once it is safe to do so.