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.
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.
Cecily's Fund is proud to present an exciting new video which provides a perfect introduction to our work - and we'd love for you to help share it.
Made in part to celebrate our 20th anniversary, the new video covers all the major areas of our work in Zambia - from our core efforts to help orphans into school, to our very latest programmes in business skills, savings groups, and more.
The video features a number of first-hand accounts of the impact Cecily's Fund is having on the communities we work with. These include the stories of Jackson (pictured), who has learned how to run his own successful business; Noria, who was helped through school; and Jane, who is just one of the many children we are supporting right now.
Packed with new footage shot in Zambia, our engaging new video also details the origins of Cecily's Fund and features interviews with the inspiring staff who make our work possible on the ground. The video should provide an ideal introduction to anyone unfamiliar with Cecily's Fund, and we hope it will also be of interest to long-standing supporters.
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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