World AIDS Day is a chance to reflect on the progress that has been made in the fight against AIDS, and the work that remains to be done. This year, Cecily’s Fund can not only celebrate the ongoing successes of our work providing education access and sexual health information, but also look forward to an exciting new programme which will take our contribution to fighting AIDS to a new level.
"For every year of education, a child’s risk of infection is cut by around 8%."
While the primary focus of Cecily’s Fund has always been on breaking down the barriers to education for orphaned and vulnerable children, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has always underpinned our work. Of the 1.4 million orphans under 18 in Zambia today, almost half are due to AIDS. The tragedy of AIDS in Zambia has created a generation of children who face tremendous challenges in accessing education – but the relationship is not one-way. We know that education not only helps to break the cycle of poverty, but also acts as a social vaccine against HIV: for every year of education, a child’s risk of infection is cut by around 8%.
In addition to helping children to access school, Cecily’s Fund also provides vital health information sessions. Since 2001, we’ve worked with our Zambian partner CHEP (the Copperbelt Health Education Project – also founded in 1988) to train Peer Educators, drawn from children we have helped. Each year, around fifty Peer Educators reach thousands of children with engaging sessions on sexual health, alcohol and drug abuse. They provide children with the tools they need to live healthy lives, and act as fantastic, positive role models. Two-thirds of young people don’t have the information they need about HIV, and our work is helping to close the gap.
"Two-thirds of young people don’t have the information they need about HIV, and our work is helping to close the gap."
This year, Cecily’s Fund has become a part of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge. This exciting initiative is an $85 million investment by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, and ViiV Healthcare. The Challenge’s overall goal is to work towards a 40% reduction in new HIV infections among girls and young women in 10 Sub-Saharan African countries. JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. is the Funds Manager for this award.
Our new programme, supported through the DREAMS Innovation Challenge, focuses on a critical time in girls’ lives: the transition between primary and secondary school. Due to a number of factors, it is at this point that dropping out is most likely. Cecily’s Fund will work with 900 girls to help them stay in school, in order reduce their vulnerability to HIV and early pregnancy, and to help them fulfil their true potential. Together with our Zambian partners, we’ll work to remove the barriers to education; increase family understanding of the value of education; empower mothers and girls to have control over their lives; enhance knowledge of HIV avoidance and tackle poverty.
So much progress has been made in the fight against AIDS, but still around 1,000 girls become infected with HIV each day – addressing this through positive interventions at a crucial time of life is a vital aspect in the global AIDS response. Cecily’s Fund is proud to be able to build on our almost two decades’ of experience and to work through DREAMS to create a generation of girls who are healthy, educated, and better able to leave poverty behind.
Read all about what we've achieved in 2016 and how you can give Cecily's Fund a great start to next year in our Christmas newsletter - available to download now.
For Cecily's Fund, Christmas means an opportunity to look back at the year we've had, and also to launch our annual Christmas Challenge. Our last newsletter of each year is a key way for us to do both: and it's available to download now or to read online using Issuu.
In our latest exciting publication, you can read about some of the highlights of our work in 2016: from community-powered savings groups to the empowering effect of entrepreneurship training. You can also enjoy two brand-new interviews, one with long-time supporter Tonie and another with Linda, a key member of staff for our partners Afya Mzuri. Better yet, learn all about our 2016 Christmas Challenge, and all the fun things you can do to help us raise £20,000 and power us into our 20th anniversary year, 2017.
Happy reading - and thank you for your support in 2016!
This July, a group of Cecily's Fund supporters travelled to Zambia to see our work there for themselves. One of them was Judy Leggott, who kindly wrote this account of one highlight: visiting BISO Community School in Lusaka and its feeding programme. BISO supports some of the most vulnerable children in the Chazanga area, many of whom are orphans. The lunch it provides each day is often the only meal children can rely on.
As a member of the supporters' group that went out to Zambia in July, I was so impressed by the work that is going on in Cecily's memory. One of the programmes which has proved to be very successful is the feeding programme run by the BISO community centre in Lusaka and which we were privileged to see in action.
After morning school the children gathered in the playground, the youngest first, where they all lined up to wash hands. In spite of a power outage which meant that there was no running water that day, large barrels were carried with some difficulty into the playground by staff and children so that a little water could be poured over each child's hands before they entered the dining hall - an impressive operation in itself, considering the effort involved.
With the youngest children first, they lined up in front of two vast metal pots to receive a plastic plateful of stiff maize meal - the staple food locally - and beans in a tomato sauce, before being seated at long wooden tables.
Two of us helped with this efficient conveyor belt system and were sweetly thanked with a little bob from the children as they were handed their food. As each child finished his meal, the plate was brought back to be quickly rinsed before being used again. Not a scrap of food was left and the children, who had eaten with their fingers, seemed more than happy to lick the very last bits off their hands. We were told by one of the staff that 650 children had been fed that day with what was likely to have been their only meal.
As we had just returned from visiting the home of one of these children whose grandmother could only afford to give her four younger siblings some boiled cabbage for their meal, we saw for ourselves how crucial this very well run programme is to the health and education of these vulnerable children.
You can read more about our work enabling children to access education here on our website. If you're inspired by Judy's experiences and would like to support our work, please consider making a single or regular donation. In the Cecily's Fund shop you'll find a Gift of Hope for just £5 - enough to significantly support the BISO feeding programme.
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Learn more about our exciting progress in 2015 by downloading our latest annual review.
- Introductions from our Chair and Director
- Summaries of all our work, organised under our four new themes
- Stories of the children we support, from talented artist Isaac to entrepreneur Malumbo
- Details on all our aims for 2016-17
- An informative financial summary
Brand-new Gifts of Hope and a beautiful new Christmas card for 2016 are all now on sale via the Cecily's Fund online shop.
There were a lot of great reasons to attend Cecily's Day this year, and just one of them was the chance to get a sneak preview of our 2016 Christmas card and our brand-new, revised Gifts of Hope. Now, all of these products are available to buy online from our shop.
The Cecily's Fund Christmas card is a tradition going back many years, and for 2016 we have a particularly attractive and distinctive design by artist Jonathan Quarterman. As ever, these cards are available in packs of six for just £3. In addition, we also have a stock of last year's card still available.
Our Gifts of Hope have also been a longstanding feature of our online shop and events. They're our special charity gifts, each one representing a Gift Aid-eligible donation with a card ready to give on any occasion. For 2016, there are six new designs as well as new options and prices which start from just £5. They're an ideal Christmas gift, and every one makes a real difference in Zambia!
Visit our online shop today to purchase your Christmas cards or Gifts of Hope.
Our supporters Tim and Verity took part in the first-ever Swim Serpentine on Saturday 24 September - and so far, they've raised over £1,600 for Cecily's Fund.
Created by the minds behind the London Marathon, Swim Serpentine is a one-mile swim in the Serpentine, the lake within London's iconic Hyde Park. Cecily's sister Verity Eastwood-Dewing and Tim Cooke-Hurle agreed to take on this challenge and to raise sponsorship for our work in Zambia, taking to the water with thousands of other swimmers for this historic first event.
Tim and Verity both thoroughly enjoyed their challenging day out, and with the help of their generous donors have together reached a total of over £1,600 to help Cecily's Fund provide education in Zambia. Both of their fundraising pages are still open and accepting donations:
Thank you once again to Tim and Verity for their superb efforts, which form a part of our build-up to the 20th anniversary year of Cecily's Fund in 2017.
Kate Williams faced tough competition and extreme heat as she participated in the ITU Triathlon World Championships in Mexico earlier this month - and raised money for Cecily's Fund as she did so.
Cecily's Fund is fortunate to have a number of our supporters complete sponsored events each year - but Kate's efforts have really captured our imagination. She travelled all the way to Cozumel, Mexico to take on other triathletes of her age as part of the British team.
Kate (pictured above before the event and after, with her competitor's medal) was disappointed with her time in the event and had some struggles with the heat and freak waves but looks back on her trip to Mexico fondly:
"I encountered (along with many others in my 'wave') a freak current which almost stopped us; several people even slower than me were collected by boat and (unfairly in my book) disqualified for a slow time. But the long swim took it out of me and after a reasonable bike leg, I started to suffer from heat exhaustion (you will have seen in the news that this happens even to the very best!) and managed to stagger over the line, only to be hit by dizziness, failing vision and flashing lights in the eyes! It was SO hot and SO humid. I was putting ice down my front and back and on my head and still could not bring my pulse rate down.
However, altogether it was the most amazing experience."
So far Kate has raised well over £750, a great total which will make a real difference in Zambia. If you're as inspired by her heroic efforts in Mexico as much as we are, please think about sponsoring her via her JustGiving page.
Back in our Summer Newsletter, we described this month as a "Super September" in terms of fundraising for Cecily's Fund by our supporters - and that's what it is turning out to be!
On Saturday 24 September, Super September will see its culmination when two Cecily's Fund supporters - including Cecily's sister Verity - take on the first-ever Swim Serpentine in central London. You can read lots more about their amazing efforts in our news story.
Basil Gets the Wheels Turning With "Ride and Stride" [Donate]
This very special month of fundraising began with the efforts of our co-founder Basil Eastwood (pictured, left). On September 10, he took part in the 2016 edition of "Ride and Stride", cycling between 20 Oxfordshire churches. Basil's efforts raised money partly for Oxfordshire Historic Churches Trust (OHCT - of which Basil is chair) and partly for Cecily's Fund. He has raised an amazing £1,200 so far - of which half will go to Cecily's Fund.
Marc Hits the Road, London to Brighton [Donate]
Just a day after Basil's cycle, another one took place. On September 11, supporter Marc Monsarrat (pictured, right) rode the popular and challenging route from London to Brighton, once again raising money for Cecily's Fund. At the completion of his journey Marc was met by his family, including his wife Veronica - a Cecily's Fund trustee, Cecily's cousin, and our first-ever employee. To date, Marc has raised over £1,000. "I did it!", Marc said of the day. " A lovely day of brilliant sunshine, only one puncture, a fun pit-stop lunch with Veronica and Eva, and a restorative burger on Brighton beach in front of a glorious sunset.”
Kate Takes on the World in Mexico [Donate]
Maybe the most exciting of all the fundraising events in September is that of Kate Williams, who we have been talking about for a few months now. Kate took part in the first-ever London Marathon back in 1981 but in the last few years has taken up a new hobby: triathlon. To her surprise, Kate qualified to take part in the ITU World Championships for her age group in Cozumel, Mexico. The event took place on September 15 and while Kate wasn't happy with her time, she said "thanks to everyone who sponsored me and gave to Cecily's Fund." So far, she's raised £750.
Thank you so much to all our amazing fundraisers! If you're inspired by what they have done this month, please consider sponsoring them and helping us make a terrific impact in Zambia. Even better, why not find out how you can take on an event of your own?