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Tuesday, 13 November 2018 22:06

A Future in Good Health: Chileshe Chikombola


"My simple achievements have inspired a lot of young people in the neighbourhood. They use my story to encourage girls on behaviour, and attitude towards life in general."

27-year old Chileshe Chikombola is modest about what she has managed to do with her life so far. What she calls her "simple achievements" are anything but - starting life in an impoverished household, she has become the first in her family to progress to further education. As a trainee nurse at Kalulushi Nursing School, she is pursuing her passion to boost the health and wellbeing of her community.

What Chileshe has achieved is a fantastic example of what young Zambians can do when Cecily's Fund helps them to unlock their potential.

Born in Kitwe, Chileshe and her siblings were raised by their single mother. She first attended Natwange Primary School, and with the support of Cecily's Fund to meet the cost of school fees she progressed into grade 8. Chileshe's family had what many Zambians consider a luxury - the ability to educate a girl.

During her time at Chimwemwe Secondary School, Chileshe saw poverty taking its toll on her peers. Many could not afford their fees; some dropped out of education due to early pregnancy; others were married too young. With the support of Cecily's Fund, Chileshe was able to complete secondary school, graduating from grade 12. Chileshe believes that withour the support of Cecily's Fund, her life could have been very different.

After graduation, Chileshe was trained as a Peer Health Educator by our partners CHEP. The crucial health information and self-confidence she had been given as a student, she was now able to pass on to her younger peers. Next, she was able to become a Sunshine Leader, helping to run Sunshine Clubs in Kitwe's Twatasha Ward. Finally, she was able to secure a rare opportunity - the chance to study nursing.

To Chileshe, it is clear that her time as a Peer Health Educator and then as a Sunshine Leader influenced her choice of vocation. "Having worked as a sunshine leader in Twatasha, I saw the need for reproductive health education for young people - especially girls." She hopes very much that as a qualified nurse, she can go on helping those members of her community in most need.

Thursday, 08 November 2018 15:59

Christmas Appeal 2018

Appeal 2018 Header Old Site

We've identified 900 vulnerable girls in Chingola, in Zambia's Copperbelt Province. Due in part to the high cost of fees, they were at risk of having to leave education altogether, but with our support they've progressed into secondary school.

To give these girls the chance at a better life that they deserve, Cecily's Fund and our partners have not only helped them to remain in school. We've informed both the girls and their mothers about their essential rights; we've helped keep them healthy and safe from HIV; and we've helped them gain business skills so they can raise the money for school fees on their own terms.

In March 2019, our funding for this vital work comes to an end. Cecily's Fund wants very much to extend our support to the girls and their families, and to do this we need your help. By raising £36,000 this Christmas, we can keep the girls in school and continue running all our interventions that are changing their lives for the better.

"I will always be with the DREAMS project and Cecilys fund in my heart even after the project ends. I will remember you for the rest of my life when I look at my successful daughter that you helped me educate and the flourishing businesses you helped me establish and grow."
Felistus - mother of Linda, one of the 900 girls

Please visit our JustGiving campaign to donate. Whatever you are able to give, no matter how small, will help change lives. Thank you!
Wednesday, 07 November 2018 16:09

Christmas Newsletter Now Available

Christmas NL News Story 2018

Read our fourth and final issue of 2018

Our fourth and final newsletter of 2018 is now available. You can download your copy of our special Christmas issue today, read via Issuu, or view some of the individual stories online below.


  • We launch our Christmas Appeal 2018, which aims to raise £36,000 so that we can extend our support to 900 vulnerable girls in Chingola into 2020
  • Supporter Hal Moggridge shares his impressions of our work in Chingola, based on his visit to Zambia this summer
  • We celebrate the efforts of Bedales School, which sent a large team to once again take part in the Great South Run this year - so far raising over £4,200
  • Presenting the newly-updated online shop, where our brand-new 2018 Christmas cards, cookbooks and much more is now available to purchase
  • Information about the two trustee vacancies Cecily's Fund is currently looking to fill - if you or someone you know has the skills we need, please download our information pack

As ever, we'd love to hear your views on the newsletter and our work as winter and Christmas approach. The Christmas Appeal 2018 will begin on December 1st - any help you could give us in reaching our ambitious goal would be much appreciated.

Thursday, 25 October 2018 12:24

Cecily's Fund Trustee Vacancies

 Trustee Vacancy

Cecily’s Fund wishes to recruit 2 trustees to support its ambition to be at the cutting edge of education best practice and, indeed, defining it. Cecily’s Fund is an international development charity with a concentrated area of impact in Zambia, and benefits from strong, well established relationships with partners and local government. With the right trustee support, it is well placed to innovate to improve education and resilience outcomes for vulnerable young people. We are looking for 2 trustees with:

Expertise in at least one of the following:

  • Education policy in developing countries
  • Programme delivery in Zambia
  • Marketing & Communications in the international development sector
  • Fundraising with high net worth individuals.
  • Corporate fundraising

Relevant Networks to CF’s work, including at least one of the following:

  • Zambian education sector
  • Zambian private sector
  • Zambian government
  • Global education networks
  • Education related academia

For further information (including application instructions) please download our information pack.

Closing Date for Applications: 3rd December 2018

Wednesday, 26 September 2018 16:48

Autumn Newsletter Now Available to Download!

Autumn NL News Story 2018

Autumn has arrived, and with it our third of four newsletters this year. You can download your copy today, or read the newsletter via Issuu, or read the individual stories online using the links below.


  • New possibilities: how our DREAMS Innovation Challenge project is giving new hope for the future
  • Seeing change first-hand: from the diaries of our latest supporters to visit Zambia, this summer
  • A new dawn: find out how one of our savings groups has helped found a new school in Kitwe
  • Returning to the Great South Run: Bedales School aim to beat their £8,000 fundraising total from 2017
  • Southborough High School's 10K triumph: celebrating the school's fundraising success in July

We would love to hear your views on all of our latest stories as we move into Autumn. Our next newsletter will be available in November, and will launch our Christmas Challenge for 2018.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018 11:16

Returning to the Great South Run

GSR 2018 News

Last year, the community around Bedales School - where Cecily was educated - gathered a team of 34 runners to take part in the Great South Run in Portsmouth. This huge fundraising effort raised over £8,000 which was split equally between Cecily's Fund and the John Badley Foundation.

This October, a new team of Bedales staff, pupils, parents and alumni will return to Portsmouth and the Great South Run. The event takes place on October 21 and 22, and a Pledgit fundraising page is open now.

"As one of the runners in the Great South Run last year I am delighted that we are going to organise a repeat once again this year [...] raising some good money for the two excellent causes being the John Badley Foundation and Cecily's Fund."

Stephen Walls, Bedales parent

Once again, Pledgit and the Country House Company are generously matching the first £1,000 raised - with your support, the Bedales community can beat their fantastic 2017 total, and Cecily's Fund can make an even greater impact this year!

Tuesday, 11 September 2018 09:46

New Dawn: Sunrise Community School

Sunrise School (3) Crop

Kitwe’s Ipusukilo ward is densely populated - 43,000 people live in a small area, and around a fifth of them are children. The community faces many challenges, but one of the most difficult is that only one government school exists to serve this entire population.

The name of the ward means "saviour", and Gift Chama is doing her part to try to lead Ipusukilo to a better future. She saw the serious educational shortfall in Ipusukilo and decided to take action. By contacting a local farmer, she was able to secure the use of an unused building. Next, she recruited volunteer teachers who also saw the depth of need in Ipusukilo. Together, they could create their own school - but they still needed financial support.

That crucial financial help came from an unexpected source. GROW stands for “grassroots owning our wealth”, and the name is used for special savings groups set up through our Connecting Communities programme. Ipusukilo ward has a GROW group of its own, which local people can use to save money, free from the high interest charged by banks. In this way, community members can invest in their businesses, helping them maximise their income and ultimately, to sustainably fund their children’s education. In Ipusukilo, the GROW group chose to support Gift’s school.

Boosted by this investment, Sunrise Community School has opened its doors. Gift is the headteacher, and makes sure never to turn a child away. Now, the five teachers run classes from 7:40am to 3:15pm each day. In all, there are 284 pupils who are taught across all grades in just one room.

The success of Sunrise Community School demonstrates how GROW groups are not only changing individual lives - by addressing gaps in education provision, they are helping to transform entire communities.


Fanny and Lister 700

Cecily’s Fund is a part of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge, a two-year initiative designed to cut the rate of new HIV infections in ten African states by 40%. In keeping with our experience, our project is based on supporting 900 vulnerable girls in Chingola, Zambia to stay in school, achieve their potential and remain determined, resilient, empowered, AIDS-free, mentored, and safe.

Fanny Chanda, 68, is a resident of Chingola. She first learned of the Cecily’s Fund DREAMS programme through an announcement at her church. Fanny knew only too well that her granddaughter Linda was unable to continue into grade 8 because the family’s poor financial situation made paying the fees impossible. Fanny worked hard to have Linda identified as a young girl in need of support - even bringing her granddaughter into her household from her parents’ home in Kitwe.

To Fanny, the need for Linda to be educated is clear. Fanny herself was born in Luapula Province, separated from the Copperbelt by the Democratic Republic of Congo. She attended school only up to grade 3, and had later married and had ten children - of whom six died.


Linda is now one of six children being looked after by Fanny in her two-room house in Chingola’s Chiwempala compound. Linda has received 100% of the money needed for her fees from the Cecily’s Fund programme, enabling her to continue in school. When Linda was given a school uniform, shoes, books and menstrual hygiene materials Fanny was overwhelmed. She says she is very grateful for the support Linda has received, and feels that these materials will help her complete education and remain independent:

"I always tell her how education will give her a voice to speak her opinions out and be heard and how education will allow her to make decisions even when she gets married."

It is not only Linda who has benefited from the programme, but also Fanny herself. “I had an opportunity to learn how to run a business in the Fresh Start training”, Fanny says. “I never realised I had the potential to run a business, but after going through the training I am now confident that I can make a profit and sustain the wellbeing of my family.”

Now, Linda is doing well at school and Fanny is hopeful that she can pass her grade 9 exam. For her part, Linda is happy to be at school and is enjoying the peer education sessions she is given. “It is sometimes hard to talk to my grandmother about somethings that affect me”, Linda says, “because she doesn’t understand what young girls go through these days. But it was fun to learn from girls who are the same age as me.”




The DREAMS Innovations Challenge is an $85 million HIV prevention initiative led by PEPFAR, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (a Johnson & Johnson company), and ViiV Healthcare. The initiative aims to accelerate progress toward achieving a 40 percent reduction in new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women in the highest-burden areas of 10 sub-Saharan African countries.

DREAMS Logo Bar February 2018

Supporter Trip 2018


Last month, a small group of Cecily’s Fund supporters, staff and trustees visited Zambia where they had the chance to see our programmes first-hand. By meeting children and young people, teachers, community members and our partner staff, they learned more about the situation facing Zambian society and the difference our work is making. What follows is just a few highlights of this intense and varied trip.

On July 9th, Craig Covil - a director of American Friends of Cecily’s Fund - wrote about meeting a Cecily’s Fund alumnus who now works for one of our partner organisations.

“As we were leaving the Afya Mzuri offices we met Jane Salimata, a Cecily’s Fund sponsored student how has graduated Grade 12 and University.  She is now working full time at Afya Mzuri’s office. It was pleasing to see full circle a child, go through the whole programme and now be gainfully employed.” One of Jane’s roles for Afya Mzuri is to help collect inspiring case studies to be shared with our supporters in the UK.

On July 10th, Marion Gilpin visited a training centre which is a key stepping stone for some Sunshine Club members.

We visited the Kitwe Vocational Training Centre run by the Ministry of Education. This provides 2.5 years of training in practical subjects: heavy duty machinery repair, metal fabrication, electrical engineering and automotive repair. 11 Sunshine Club members were now studying at the Centre. Applicants must first apply to the centre, be assessed and then, if accepted, apply for a government bursary. With a letter of recommendation from CHEP, 90% of Sunshine club members are accepted onto courses and get bursaries. A certificate is given at the end of the course. Our 11 students get full tuition scholarships but must still find their own accommodation and food and  safety boots, helmets and overalls.

The Principal told us that the college capacity was 600 students, but only 300 places had been taken up, due to funding issues. Tuition fees for 1 term are 2,200 kwacha.

Our students joined us after finishing an exam. They looked very cheerful, and all anticipated a pass! They told us that they would not have had this great opportunity without the help of Cecily’s Fund.

IMG 0122

Hal Moggridge writes about being introduced to our DREAMS Innovation Challenge programme on July 11th.

The programme in Chingola District is in its second year of a two year scheme. It is financed by the US government through Cecily’s Fund and is an experiment in spreading the ideas developed by the Fund into a new area.  900 girls who had dropped out of education after free primary provision are being supported in 20 government schools, and are now studying at grade 9. They are vulnerable children and often orphans and are at the critical early teen age - 13 – 14 year olds or older.  The schools receive 50 or 100% of the $50 annual fee and the girls get uniforms, shoes and textbooks. The project is supported by three Afya Mzuri staff assisted by volunteers, 24 grade 11 trained peer group leaders who encourage the girls to persist, 10 fresh start advisers and 38 Join In Circuit (JIC) advisors on sex education outside the school.


The programme is proving a great success - the girls have come to love school and only five of the 900 have dropped out of the programme. Most of the girls are expected to be capable of proceeding to the next grade in secondary school.  Parent groups are being set up, though resources are small. In the more remote schools, the children are wearing shoes and smart uniforms for the first time.


Look out for more coverage of the 2018 supporters' trip to Zambia in our forthcoming Autumn newsletter, due in mid-September. If you'd be interested in visiting Zambia yourself on a future supporters' trip, please let us know via our contact page.

Vincent Story July 25 2018

In Zambia, over 40% of the population live in extreme poverty and the fees that must be paid for children to progress beyond grade 8 and into secondary school are simply not affordable. This is especially true for the families of orphaned and vulnerable children. Cecily’s Fund aims to help children continue beyond primary education, unlock their full potential, and break the cycle that traps communities in poverty.

Vincent (pictured left) is 14 years old and lives in Kitwe’s Mindolo North ward, within Zambia’s resource-rich Copperbelt Province. He lives with his grandmother, who does not have a source of income. Vincent is blunt about their circumstances: “our survival is from hand to mouth.” Vincent’s father passed away and his mother and three siblings live elsewhere. His mother can provide only limited financial help from the income she makes selling tomatoes.

Vincent’s prospects outside of school were poor. He expected to stay at home or to help his mother with her small business selling tomatoes. Other children consider more desperate means to help their families - John (pictured centre), for example, says he would have looked to stealing or selling drugs to help his own grandmother get by.

Our local partners in Kitwe, Afya Mzuri, identified Vincent’s need for support. Through them, Cecily’s Fund has paid 50% of his school fees. “If I had not received the help”, Vincent says, “I would not be in school.” Now, Vincent is in his 10th grade and aspires to be a lawyer. We know that only education can give Vincent and his family a chance at a path out of poverty: our support has lifted his aspirations but life is still hard. Vincent and his grandmother eat only one meal a day and rely on help from their community to get by. When he finishes school, our hope is that Vincent will secure an income that will give himself and his family a better future.

Each year Cecily’s Fund is helping to make education possible for children like Vincent and John but there is so much more for us to do. George (pictured right) is one of a number of children identified recently by Afya Mzuri as being in need of support. He lives in Twatasha ward and has done well enough at school to progress to grade 8 – but the fees are far beyond his means. Having lost both parents, he lives with her widowed sister. Without the money for fees, his education is on hold. “My life as a youngster is being wasted”, he says. “I hope to be something big in future but that might not be because am not going to school.”

With your help, Cecily’s Fund can identify more children like Vincent, John and George and provide them the support their need to complete school, make the most of their lives, and break the cycle of poverty in their communities.

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Forthcoming AFCF Events

Coming soon

Recent AFCF Events


Presentation at St. John's University, New York (April 6th 2017)

On April 6th, our Development Officer Sue Skaf gave a presentation about Cecily's Fund to a freshman class at St.John's University in New York, upon the invitation of AFCF's new Board member Professor William Reisel.  Professor Reisel encourages all of his students to work and fundraise for the community, particularly for disadvantaged children.  The class presented Sue with $485.00 which they raised at a recent bake sale to benefit our students in Zambia!

AFCF Directors' Workshop, New York City (March 14th 2017)

AFCF Board Meeting, New York City (December 2nd 2015)

AFCF Directors' Workshop, New York City (November 15th 2015)

Pub Quiz, New York City (April 22nd 2015)

AFCF was a sponsor at the British American Business (BAB) Pub Quiz in NYC. This popular event combines the traditional atmosphere of a British pub night with a unique opportunity for networking! AFCF’s team Zambia 2015 took part, in the spirit of friendly competition! A great way to promote our work in Zambia to BAB membership!


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