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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.

10K 2018 News 2

Cecily's Fund is hugely grateful to the 20 people who ran the Virgin Sport British 10K on Sunday July 15th. The team, drawn from Southborough High School, Doughty Street Chambers, and independent runners, have together raised a fantastic total of over £4,260!

While many of us were relaxing and preparing to watch the World Cup final, these inspiring runners were preparing to make their way into central London to compete alongside 10,000 others. The British 10K is one of the biggest events of its kind in the UK, a staple of Cecily's Fund support for over a decade, and takes in iconic sights such as Big Ben, St James' Palace and Trafalgar Square.

We're particularly grateful to the 14 members of staff from Southborough High School who took part on the day and have together raised a tremendous sum of £2,131 including Gift Aid. In addition to raising money online via JustGiving, the school also undertook other fundraising activities including an auction for a pair of football boots from former Ivorian international Kolo Touré.

The fundraising pages for all of our runners are still open and we would very much appreciate further donations if you are inspired by what our runners have achieved. The total raised so far is enough for us to help over 80 orphaned and vulnerable children remain in school for a year - a fantastic impact.

Support Our Runners - JustGiving Pages

10K 2018 News

Whether or not England reach the World Cup final, this Sunday is guaranteed to be a momentous day - especially for 21 runners who are taking on the British 10K for Cecily's Fund!

Now run by Virgin Sport, the British 10K has been a key fundraiser for Cecily's Fund for over a decade. In recent years, our friends at Southborough High School have been regular, and successful, entrants. This year their team extends to 14 runners, and they've already raised over £1,200 - in total, all of our runners this year have raised a fantastic £2,500 so far.

"I'm so pleased to be running again for Cecily's Fund", says Camilla Darling, who ran previously in 2015 and 2016. She is one of a number of runners who are friends and colleagues of Philippa Tolmay, Cecily's sister who has taken part in the run herself. They also include Kate O'Raghallaigh, Abigail Bright and Henrietta Hill who have raised almost £650 already.

"I'm delighted to be running the 10K for Cecily's Fund - it is a physical challenge for me but the atmosphere on the day is always electric."

Henrietta Hill

On Sunday, the runners will pass numerous major landmarks including Big Ben, St James' Palace and Trafalgar Square. Each year over 10,000 people take part - supporters of Cecily's Fund have been among them since the very first event in 2004.

The difference that our runners can make through their fundraising, and that you can make by sponsoring them, is dramatic. The £2,500 already raised as of July 11 could fund the training of over 30 of our life-changing Peer Educators, who are vital role models to orphaned and vulnerable children in Zambia. The same amount could also helps us keep 50 children in school for a year.

While the World Cup dominates the headlines, we would love for you to support our runners who have a huge sporting challenge of their own - and one which will help Cecily's Fund make a real difference.

Support Our Runners - JustGiving Pages

Wednesday, 04 July 2018 15:59

New Alumni Victorious in 2018 Zam Challenge

ZC 2018 Postmatch

Our annual 5-a-side football tournament, the Zam Challenge, made a return on June 29 - on the one-day break from matches in the World Cup. Once again, Burford School kindly hosted the event which is still open to donations.

In the end, it was simple enough. In a Zam Challenge final contested purely by former students of Burford School, the New Alumni cruised to a comfortable 3–0 victory over their predecessors, the Original Alumni. While Haydn Parker’s team will have their team name engraved on the Zam Challenge shield, Adam Nobbs’ Originals must make do with second place — for the second year running.

On June 29, six teams competed for the shield, a field expanded from the four sides which played in 2017. The Burford School sports hall played host to a total of nine matches — six in a group stage, and three playoffs to determine final placings — which were even more intense than the games played last year. In all, 46 goals were scored in just 72 minutes of play.

The Cecily’s Fund team, recruited and captained again by Simon Isherwood, finished in third place overall thanks to a very tense 4–3 win over Burford’s Year 12 in the second playoff. Scott Latham, a constant threat for Cecily’s Fund, was declared Man of the Tournament and the team found the back of the net 12 times, putting them joint top scorers with the tournament winners.

For their part, Burford Staff will be disappointed with their attempt to retain the shield. A 4–1 loss to Cecily’s Fund severely dented their chances, but they eventually secured fifth place with a 3–0 triumph over Wenn Townsend F.C. The chartered accountants, who have sponsored the 2017 and 2018 tournaments, were a welcome presence with their own squad this year.

Match Results



Cecily's Fund is very grateful to everyone at Burford School for helping make the Zam Challenge happen; to our referee Roger; to Bill Williams for arranging the matches; and to everyone who played, spectacted, or donated at the event. So far £345 has been donated via our JustGiving page. For every £50 raised Cecily's Fund can help a child remain in school for a year, so your donations make a huge difference. If you have not yet donated, we would love for you to do so.

Be sure to have a look at the #ZamChallenge18 tag on social media for more photos, videos and updates on the Zam Challenge!

Thursday, 14 June 2018 10:28

Zam Challenge 2018

ZC18 Web 1

On June 29, the Zam Challenge returns for its second annual instalment! Burford School will host our six-team, 5-a-side football tournament which promises to be even more intense than last year. Visit our JustGiving page now to make a donation, post a message of support for your team, and help us change lives in Zambia!

ZC18 Web 2

In the 2017 competition, Burford School staff narrowly triumphed over three rival teams to take away the first-ever trophy. This year, the total number of teams has increased to six - with a second alumni squad and a team representing Wenn Townsend Chartered Accountants added into the mix.

As before, the official Cecily's Fund team is captained by Simon Isherwood who has formed a new squad with "a mix of youth and experience". The other returning teams are reigning champions Burford staff, the original alumni, and an all-new Burford School Year 12 team. There are four special awards for top goalscorer, top goalkeeper, best teamwork, and of course Man of the Match - which is generously sponsored by Wenn Townsend.

ZC18 Web 3

ZC18 Web 4

The Cecily's Fund team needs your support! Visit our JustGiving page today to make a donation, then post a message for our team. They were top goalscorers in 2017, and would love nothing more than to go all the way this year!

 Zam Challenge Webpage 2 V3

We'll be sharing all the action from all the matches online, so be sure to keep an eye on the #ZamChallenge18 hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We'll also be publishing a post-tournament report here on our website.

It takes just a few clicks to make your Zam Challenge donation, but your support will make a real difference in the lives of orphaned and vulnerable children in Zambia. Just £5 is enough to help support our feeding programme at BISO Community School, while £15 helps us support a community savings group. For every £50 we raise, we can support a child at school for a year. So please - donate today, help us make a difference, and cheer on the Cecily's Fund team!

The Zam Challenge
Friday June 29 at 5pm, Burford School sports hall
Donate today via JustGiving
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates

Summer Newsletter 2018

The second of our four newsletters this year is now available to download from our website. To read all our latest news, get your download here or read on Issuu. Also, use the links below to go straight to key stories on our site.

The life-changing effects of our DREAMS programme; how we're using the power of sport and music in our work; and all the details of the second annual Zam Challenge. They're all featured in our summer newsletter this year. Here are some more details:

  • In a special feature "Growing the Future", we meet Felistus - a mother and businesswoman who has been given a new hope for the future by our DREAMS programme.
  • In the feature "Changing Tunes and Scoring Goals", we take a look at two examples of our work outside the classroom. First, we meet Zacharia who is an aspiring musician. Then, we look at a very unique football team.
  • The second annual Zam Challenge 5-a-side football tournament is coming up on June 29 - inside the newsletter you can read about what we have in store for the event. Visit our JustGiving page to donate today!
  • On page 7 of the newsletter you'll find out about two schools - Southborough High and Bedales - which are longstanding supporters of Cecily's Fund. They're taking on major runs this year for us and need your support.

Inside the newsletter there's also a reminder of what Cecily's Fund has done to become compliant with new privacy regulations. If you haven't done so already, please have a look at our new privacy page and take a moment to register for our mailings - or update your existing details.

We hope you enjoy the newsletter - please contact us with any comments or queries and look out for the next issue coming in September.



I will always be with the DREAMS project and Cecily’s 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.

In Zambia, for a child to educated beyond grade 8 requires the payment of costly school fees. That's why Cecily's Fund is committed to expanding the incomes of Zambian families - so that they can afford to secure for their children the better life that education can make possible.

Felistus lives near Chingola, with her husband and children. Like over half of Zambians, the family's income is based on agriculture. Her village has ideal conditions for growing maize, and Felistus believed that by working hard she could provide education and a better life for her daughter, Linda. However, it proved difficult to secure the finance needed to grow the farm business. It seemed that Linda might end up marrying early, like other girls in the village.

A new chance came when Linda was chosen to be supported by Cecily's Fund through our DREAMS Innovation Challenge project. She is one of 900 girls in the Chingola area being kept in school with our help. In addition to providing school fees, the project has also transformed the future of Felistus' business. By joining the GROW savings group set up by the project, she has borrowed the money she needs for improvements to her farm - finance she would not have been able to access before.

Felistus has also received financial literacy training, helping her to plan effectively for the future. She has even been elected Chair of a second savings group.

Now, Felistus and the other villagers have a clear vision for the future. By working in solidarity through the savings groups, they can grow their businesses and incomes so that their children can be educated and look forward to a brighter future. In this way, a targeted and sustainable investment of funds through the DREAMS project has begun to transform Felistus’ community.


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-IC composite logo

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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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