As the New Year dawned many of us coping with the challenges of the pandemic continue to hope that life will soon get back to normal. We have all been affected and had to deal with it in different ways. Running The Butterfly Tree has helped to keep me focused and realise how fortunate we are in the UK to have the NHS, readily available vaccinations, and instant communication with our friends and families.
The Butterfly Tree’s aim is, and always has been, to improve the lives of of orphans and vulnerable children in some the poorest communities on the planet. When COVID-19 reached Zambia health facilities were ill-equipped to cope with it. Most clinics and schools had no masks, soap, hand sanitiser or disinfectant. Thanks to the support of our generous donors we have assisted 30 clinics and 20 schools with a continual supply of PPE. To date masks remain mandatory indoors and at public gatherings and cases have reduced in the past few months.
The health post at Bunsanga is just one example of how having adequate facilities can help to say lives. People presenting malaria symptoms can get tested and treated quickly, women can give birth knowing that there is medical aid on hand and no longer need to walk long distances for post and antenatal clinics, or to get their children vaccinated. Blooms the Chemist, Australia, provide invaluable ongoing support for Bunsanga, Simonga and Mambova health posts.
Thanks to the Guernsey Overseas Aid Commission and Development we have built health centres and posts at Sikuanzwe, Bunsanga and the latest one at Katondo, soon to be completed. In addition we have constructed an entire health centre at Mahalulu and a health post at Muchambila. At Mukuni and Simonga we added maternity wards and mother’s shelter. Singwamba, Musokotwane, Kasiya and Mambova were also given mother’s shelters, Manyemuyemu and Sikapa were added to the list in 2021. These shelters provide accommodation for women from outreach villages before the onset of labour, preventing women having to walk long distances when in labour.
As always malaria prevention is one of our main priorities, mosquito nets are being given out to school children after a successful fundraising campaign leading up to Christmas. The rainy season is from November to April, and this is when malaria is most prevalent, so thank you to everyone for helping us to protect more children.
This month sees the start of the new school year in Zambia. The date has been put back to the 24th January due to COVID-19, but unlike the previous two years the numbers of cases are not so high. Results have recently been announced for grades 7 and 9, while a few of the orphans on sponsorship have failed many have done well, most especially girls. The aim of our the new Girl’s Empowerment project, which was initiated last year, is to encourage teenage girls to avoid early pregnancies and to complete their education.
More students are being enrolled at college and university this year. Courses include accountancy, journalism, nursing and catering. Other students that started their courses last year are studying pharmacy, nursing, engineering, accountancy, computing, forward and clearing, building, carpentry and welding. The Murphy Family Foundation, Their World and individual sponsors have given these youths a wonderful opportunity to improve their lives and that of their families.
Recent developments in schools have included the completion of a science lab at Sichifulo and teacher’s houses at Muchambila and Muyunda. A classroom block is under construction at Chabalanda and a further one soon to be started in a new area. Once finished these facilities are handed over to the communities, and Ministry of Education who will provide qualified teachers.
The mango project in Musokotwane and the chicken and vegetable project in Sekute are progressing well. Each project should provide a sustainable income for 200 women living in remote areas, thanks to our Canadian partner Give A Hand. The women receive training on how to develop these projects, and in business and project management.
Our aim for the coming months is to expand our malaria prevention programme, build additional community houses for orphans and widows, install more boreholes in schools and to seek funding for further development in education, health, and sustainable income-generating enterprises.
I would like to wish you all a very Happy and Healthy New Year.