On behalf of The Butterfly Tree I am delighted to present our Annual Report and Accounts for 2022-23. Please click on the link below to view or download the full report, the accounts, images and graphs.
In May 2022 I was able to return to Zambia for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. Our local team who I had not seen for over two years greeted me with open arms. It was wonderful to back to spend time with them and to visit the many projects The Butterfly Tree has initiated in the past couple of years. I also visited in March 2023 when I was invited to meet Chief Nyawa, who is the traditional leader of the biggest Chiefdom in the Kazungula District with over four hundred villages. He was overwhelmed by the number of projects we have implemented and most appreciative of the support the charity has shown to his people. He actually asked me why I do it! I do it out of compassion for orphans and children who are born into extreme poverty, to give them hope.
The Butterfly Tree won two more awards: ‘Best Education Charity of the Year’ – Scotland Prestige Awards and ‘HIV Support Non-Profit Organisation of the Year’ – Central England Prestige Awards
We continue to received substantial donations to support our orphan sponsorship programme and education projects. In addition to pupils being sponsored at Mukuni, Kamwi, Ngandu, Ndele, River View, Lumbo, Senkobo and Kazungula Boarding School, we have added Musokotwane to the list. Orphans can be found in every village living with elderly grandparents who do not have a source of income. The programme has helped hundreds of children to complete high school and beyond. Six students who completed school after being on The Butterfly Tree’s orphan sponsorship programme are currently attending university reading the following courses: microbiology, engineering, teaching, journalism, and two are learning accountancy. A third student is studying to be an accountant at college and two are enrolled at a nursing college. In addition, eleven students are learning skills at colleges in Livingstone. These include forward and clearing, catering, building, carpentry, and plumbing.
Throughout the year schools received donations of textbooks and desks. Three special education classes at Mukuni, Katapazi and Simonga shared a donation of educational materials. Our trained peer educators conducted workshops to talk to school children of all ages about the dangers of HIV, teenage pregnancies, early marriages, and alcohol and drug abuse.
After the completion of Katondo Health Post, which is now in full operation we received further grant aid to build a health post at Boombwe, a remote area in Musokotwane. The project included a clinic, two staff houses, toilets, a borehole, a biodigester, and medical equipment. Once it is fully operational people will no longer have to walk long distances to seek medical attention. Simonga, Mambova and Bunsanga health posts received monthly donations of medical supplies and 1,150 mosquito nets were distributed to help the global fight against malaria. These were given to teachers and school children in areas where malaria is most prevalent.
The builders that we sponsored are gaining more experience. They constructed a 1×2 classroom block at Mubuyu community school and two teacher’s houses at Musokotwane secondary school. They started another 1×2 classroom block at Malombe community school to replace the mud and pole construction, which was their main classroom. A further classroom block was built at Mukuni Primary School, and one other classroom and the special education class also at Mukuni underwent restoration work.
The most challenging of our projects is to provide safe drinking water. After receiving a substantial donation, we successfully drilled boreholes at Katubya, Malombe and N’gandu schools, the latter received a full water reticulation system to create a sustainable school garden as well as providing drinking water. A water system was also installed at Boombwe health post. Sadly, we could not find water at one school, after three attempts. This is costly and disappointing for the pupils and teachers, but when a drill is successful it is one of the most exhilarating sights as I have ever seen. The joy and jubilation for a community to have fresh water for the first time is so rewarding. In addition to improving health, it saves hours of time collecting water from polluted streams and rivers. More boreholes are to be drilled in the coming months.
During my visit to Zambia in May last year I was joined by a volunteer from Costa Rica. Jonathan, an eco-tourism consultant, first volunteered for the charity in 2013. This time he came to initiate the Mukuni Village Tours. Mukuni with its close proximity to the mighty Victoria Falls is a popular tourist destination. Tour operators charge between $50 – $120 for just a two-hour visit. After selecting school leavers from our orphan sponsorship programme Jonathan spent a month training them to become guides to take visitors on a tour of Mukuni Village and also the Victoria Falls. The aim is for them to have a sustainable enterprise, which is being offered on Airbnb Experiences and Trip Advisor.
As tourism picks up after the pandemic more volunteers and visitors are expected. To help safeguard the children and communities where we work all volunteers must have a DBS certificate or the equivalent in their country. They are accompanied by one of The Butterfly Tree NGO team, a teacher or medical worker. Participating as a volunteer can be a life-changing experience – four of our UK team joined the charity after volunteering in Mukuni.
The women’s projects are progressing well. Honey production, mango produce, chicken rearing and vegetable growing are providing communities with an income. The one in Sekute is so successful that the women donate some of their profits to the elderly, disabled and widows. This coming year we aim to initiate a project for young people with physical and mental challenges and those living with HIV. Rarely do they get an opportunity to earn an income.
Eleven community houses were built for orphans, widows, and the elderly. The most vulnerable are helped and in the case of orphans the homes are shared with their siblings.
In addition to raising awareness of the dangers of HIV, teenage pregnancies, early marriages, alcohol and drug abuse through our peer education programme we encourage young people to get involved with sport. After the success of the boys’ football tournaments, we have encouraged girls to form teams – tournaments took place during the Christmas period at Singwamba and Mukuni. Since forming these teams all the girls in the Mukuni team passed grade 7 and 9 examinations.
A special thanks to my fellow trustees Ann, Jackie and Anthony, who provide support behind the scenes in accounting, safeguarding and fundraising. We were delighted to welcome Anthony O’Neill to the Board in October 2022, who has been a keen supporter of the charity for several years. Many thanks to volunteers David, Carolyn, Leah, Valerie and Steven for giving up their free time to help with IT, fundraising, youth projects, and child protection and safeguarding. Thanks also to Frank Maiola, our US representative. Much of our success is owed to our incredible team of Trustees in Zambia. They work tirelessly to initiate, manage and monitor all our projects. Mupotola Siloka (secretary/project management), Rev. Presley Mulenga (education), Martin Mushabati (community projects/sport) and Stain Musungaila (malaria prevention and community projects). Each of them has volunteered for the charity prior to and since the registration of the NGO in 2007. Also, thanks to our Zambian volunteers who manage a variety of programmes. Natasha Mufeya, (orphan sponsorship/peer education/girls’ empowerment), Mafian Sitali (orphan sponsorship) and Lloyd Kasala (community projects, Nyawa). All our members both in the UK and Zambia are volunteers and are committed to helping young people to change their lives for the better.