In January 2006 I first visited Mukuni Village, a far cry from the luxury hotel I was staying at alongside the mighty Victoria Falls. Little did I know that just two hours spent meeting the friendly and humble Leya people would result in a life-changing experience.
Eighteen years on I am still as passionate about helping orphans as I ever was. The Butterfly Tree has transformed the lives of thousands of vulnerable children and continues to expand our work to remote areas in the Southern Province of Zambia. Earlier this month grades 7 and 9 results were announced and most of the pupils under sponsorship have passed their exams, those attending River View school have done particularly well.
2024 has got off to a great start with funding in place for another 1×3 classroom block thanks to the generosity of a private donor. Currently we are constructing a classroom block at River View Secondary school, two more will shortly be under construction and another one will be completed this month at Musokotwane Secondary school. We are so grateful for the support of The Murphy Family Foundation and other donors.
The Ministry of Education is changing the Zambian education system. In future primary schools will accommodate only grades 1 to 7, while secondary schools will take grades 8 to 12. Hence the need for further development in secondary schools. Some schools like Ngandu have grades 1 to 9 and will remain with those classes for some time as they have adequate facilities for the number of pupils.
We received the second phase of funding from the Overseas Aid and Development Commission to complete the new health post for the Mabwa. The donation includes a clinic, two staff houses, a borehole, a biodigester for waste, equipment and supplies. We have already distributed the mosquito nets to the schools in this zone. Kauwe, another zone, where there is a high prevalence of malaria, has just received over 1,000 mosquito nets thanks to a generous grant from the The Angus Lawson Memorial Trust.
Twenty seven orphans and vulnerable families are to be given new homes from our long-term donor, Motive Real Estate, Texas and an individual donor. These will be given to those living in the most dilapidated and overcrowded houses. The Mukuni Village Trust continues to sponsor 40 children on our orphan sponsorship programme. For over a decade this Australian group has supported the charity and Mukuni Chiefdom.
Unfortunately, the new school year opening date has been pushed back due to an outbreak of cholera. The latest news from the World Health Organisation states: ‘Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and others, World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting the government to effectively roll out the oral cholera vaccination campaign as well as bolster ongoing outbreak control measures.‘ Though it is mainly in Lusaka, the capitol city, and townships, we are closely monitoring the situation and providing support to protect our local team. Monthly donations from Blooms the Chemist, Australia will provide additional PPE for three rural clinics – Simonga, Bunsanga and Mambova.
All our projects, including the women’s agricultural pruduction ones and the one for young people with disabilites, funded by Give a Hand, Canada, as well as community housing, and construction work will continue as normal as the rural areas where we work are not currently effected by the outbreak.