In Zambia, 46% of the population is under 15 years old. There are sometimes few adult role models, and opportunities can be scarce — particularly for children who are out of school.
Cecily’s Fund is working to change this. Through our Connecting Communities programme, funded by Comic Relief, we’re giving young people in Kitwe the chance to gain skills, opportunities, and a better future. One of the ways we’re doing it is with the beautiful game itself — Zambia’s beloved national sport, football.
Kitwe, in Copperbelt Province, is a hotbed of football talent. Two of its elite clubs, Power Dynamos and Nkana, regularly feature in the top flight of Zambian football. Sunshine F.C. is a very different kind of team, however.
Founded in 2016, the club recruits all of its players from children in the area who are out of school. It is a project of Kwacha Sunshine Club, which founded the team: Sunshine Clubs themselves are special associations funded through Connecting Communities to boost opportunities for young people.
Sunshine Leader Michael explains that in addition to competing in local amateur leagues, Sunshine F.C. also “ use football as a tool to communicate many issues affecting youths in our community such as early pregnancies, drug and alcohol abuse, crime in the community, sexual and reproductive health.” They’ve reached well over 200 young people with this vital information.
With help from our partner organisation CHEP (the Copperbelt Health Education Project), Sunshine F.C. were able to get some special training from both Power Dynamos and Nkana. With their newfound skills, the team became runners-up in a major local competition.
So successful was this new team that no less than 13 of its players were picked up by more established sides. Upon signing contracts, the young and talented players were able to bring much-needed income into their households. For its part, Sunshine F.C. is working hard to recruit new players, become formally established and to sustain itself over the long term.
Securing success on the pitch; bringing income to its players; and spreading the word about vital health issues. With these three goals, Sunshine F.C. has helped Connecting Communities rack up a big win over poverty in Copperbelt Province.
|Location||Kasompe, Chingola, Zambia||Respondent|| Rebecca Namfukwe
Even with government-subsidized school fees, it is not easy for most parents or guardians to support children in government schools in Chingola. This is a story of Rebecca Namfukwe, grandmother to Memory, an orphaned grade 8 girl at Kasompe Primary School.
Memory’s parents died when she was a baby. She was then adopted by her grandparents. They have since been sponsoring her education. But with the financial constraints faced by most parents and guardians in Chingola, especially due to high unemployment levels, it hasn’t been easy. Memory’s grandfather is a charcoal burner who produces and sells charcoal for a living. Rebecca also sells vegetables at a local market to make ends meet.
In having such a constrained household income, Rebecca says it has not been easy to save money for Memory’s school; the little income she has is only enough to feed the family.
According to the respondent, most girls in her area drop out of school before the eighth grade, usually due to lack of sponsorship. Rebecca says, some girls have to travel long distances (about 1½ hours walk) to access a school in a town area every day. These girls usually find it hard to continue schooling and drop out.
In 2016, Memory, passed her grade 7 exams, but unfortunately, there was no money for her to report to school, to grade 8, early this year (the start of secondary education). She stayed home for months, despite having received her admission letter. Memory ended up spending most of her time selling charcoal and vegetables at the market instead of being in school.
With the coming of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge project by Cecily’s Fund-Afya Mzuri, funded by PEPFAR, this all too common story is slowly beginning to change. There is now hope for girls like Memory, and also for their parents and guardians.
Rebecca has expressed gratitude for the extended mentorship that the project has offered to the girls. She says that through the Comprehensive Sexual Education and life-skills programs that the girls have undergone, she has already noticed changes in her grandchild’s personal and school life. With a bright smile and enthusiastic voice, Rebecca explained that her granddaughter’s tendency to fool around with friends who were not a good influence on her, has reduced tremendously, therefore giving Memory enough time to study.
Rebecca said that the girl is more careful about who she includes in her circle of friends which, to her, is a sign of improved decision making and assertiveness. Rebecca added that, before the girl was enrolled in the DREAMS project, Memory used to spend a lot of time at the market selling charcoal for the family and playing with friends who had a negative influence. She says that now Memory is back in school, she has a better choice of friends, improving her school performance.
Apart from the positive impact that the project has had on Rebecca’s granddaughter, together with many others, Rebecca says that her own life has also improved. After both Rebecca and Memory attended ‘Fresh-Start’ entrepreneurship skills training in July this year (2017), Rebecca says that she now has better skills to run her own business more efficiently than before. She says that she has improved her saving and accountability skills, giving her hope that she can grow her business in future. This, she says, gives her hope to better her household livelihood in the near future.
Rebecca and her granddaughter will also be amongst the first 450 girls and guardians in the project, to benefit from business equipment
given to them as part of a package of sustainable livelihood and education support. Rebecca says that this means that the young girl’s dream to become a nurse and probably the family’s breadwinner, has been re-lit.
Granddaughter’s dream to become a nurse has been re-lit through getting back into education
She also says that she has already seen a change towards positive attitudes and behaviour of her fellow guardians who attend the ‘REFLECT’ group meetings. Formed early this year as a key element of the programme, REFLECT groups (of 30 parents) aim to improve the perception of the value of education, through adult literacy and proactive participatory identification of solutions to local socio-economic issues.
According to Rebecca, through REFLECT, parents and guardians show a positive attitude to girls’ education as they can better relate the importance of parenting to a child’s education. She said that, already, one could easily see the difference in behaviour between parents who attend REFLECT sessions and those who don’t.
As chairperson of the Parent REFLECT group for Kasompe, and being a good community mobiliser, Rebecca aims to continue supporting the project’s efforts in helping the girls achieve their goals and make their community better.
Rebecca recognizes that, thanks to PEPFAR through DREAMS, not only does she have sponsorship to keep Memory in school, but with improved educational support and entrepreneurship training, she is likely to keep Memory in school beyond the project end.
Quotes from the respondent:
“I wish this project (DREAMS) a long life so that its intended purpose will be realised fully. If the project will not continue, the impact so far made will be compromised.”
Our Christmas newsletter is now available to download! Our final issue of the year features the launch of our Christmas Challenge, a recap of this year's Cecily's Day, and much more.
Featuring a brand-new layout, our final newsletter of 2017 summarises what has been another busy year for Cecily's Fund. The key story is the upcoming launch of this year's Christmas Challenge: between December 1st and 14th, we're aiming to once again raise £20,000 to support our work into 2018 and beyond. The theme is "Life After School", and we will be sharing just some of the ways that our work is helping to prepare children in Zambia to live healthy, self-sufficient lives after they've completed their education. Look out for lots more news on the Challenge in coming weeks.
Also in the newsletter:
- A concise recap of Cecily's Day 2017, at which we celebrated our 20th anniversary
- A tribute to our 2017 fundraisers, including those who took part in Swim Serpentine, the London 10K, and the Zam Challenge
- An interview with young "star baker" Lucy Chambers, whose bake sales raised hundreds for Cecily's Fund
- All the details of the great products available in our online shop this Christmas
This Sunday, October 22, over 40 runners with connections to Bedales School in Hampshire will take part in the 2017 Great South Run - raising money for Cecily's Fund and the John Badley Foundation.
Because Cecily attended Bedales, we have had a long association with the school. As our founders Alison and Basil Eastwood have said:
"Cecily loved her time at Bedales (1991-96) - and Bedales loved her. We are delighted that a team from Bedales is doing the Great South Run for Cecily’s Fund."
This year, to mark the 20th anniversary of Cecily's Fund we have been chosen as one of two charities to receive funds from Bedales' participation in the Great South Run. Taking place in Portsmouth, the Great South Run is one of the biggest mass-participation running events in the UK and has a route length of ten miles.
So far a fantastic total of over £4,100 has been raised via Pledgit. Of this sum, half will go to Cecily's Fund and half will go to the John Badley Foundation. To add your own donation, visit Pledgit today. Cecily's Fund thanks all the many runners taking part and hopes they have a fantastic day!
On September 2, 2017 over 100 of our supporters gathered at St. Mary's Church in Witney for Cecily's Day. With special guests in attendance, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Cecily's Fund and the huge impact we've made together in Zambia since 1997.
Cecily's Day 2017 was special for a number of reasons. For the first time the event took place in Witney, where our office is located. The beautiful St. Mary's Church is just a few minutes' walk from the office and a superb venue. We had the company of guests from around the world, many with a deep connection to the Eastwood family. In addition to our usual roster of speakers, we had a moving communion service, a fantastic choir singing Zambian songs, and the launch of the first-ever Cecily's Fund Supporters' Cookbook.
Communion Service of Thanksgiving
The first part of Cecily's Day was a special communion service of thanksgiving, for which the celebrant was Rob Eastwood Dewing and the server was Charlotte Oakeshott. Readings were given by former Chair William Powlett Smith and former trustee John Fox, while prayers of intercession were led by Cecily's sister Verity.
We were honoured to be joined at Cecily's Day by a number of notable guests:
- Sister Theresa Stapleton joined us from Ireland and spoke about the founding of Children in Distress (CINDI), the organisation with which Cecily volunteered while in Zambia and which the Fund began by supporting. [Read Sister Theresa's speech]
- Patron Sixtus Mulenga and his wife Rebecca visited from Zambia. Sixtus spoke about some young people supported by Cecily's Fund who have become successful, and the need to create more jobs for school leavers.
- Our co-founder Basil Eastwood provided a short history of Cecily's Fund, with some fascinating insights on our transformation from a "kitchen table" concern to a thriving medium-sized charity. [Read Basil's speech]
Special Guests from Zambia
In addition to Sixtus and Rebecca Mulenga, we were joined by two other special guests from Zambia. Beatrice Chola and Patricia Besa joined us from Bwafwano Integrated Services Organisation (BISO), who have been partners of ours since 2003. They kindly answered questions about BISO community school, and explained how Cecily's Fund has really made a difference in the Chazanga area of Lusaka.
Cookbook and Christmas Cards Launch
An extra highlight of Cecily's Day 2017 was the launch of our brand-new Christmas cards and our first ever Supporters' Cookbook. Featuring over 90 recipes submitted by our supporters, the Cookbook breaks new ground for Cecily's Fund and is great value at just £10. Guests at Cecily's Day were the first to be able to buy both of these products, but they are now available to all via our online shop.
Cecily's Day was made possible in part by the tremendous effort of our volunteers, speakers, officials and guests to whom we express our sincere thanks. We also thank all the supporters who attended the event, made donations, bought merchandise, and learned more about our work. Your support not only made Cecily's Day a success, but has also made our work possible since 1997. We hope you will continue to support us for years to come, as we continue our work to help build a more prosperous Zambia where education is available to all.
The first-ever Cecily's Fund cookbook is here! We're ready to take your order through our online shop, where our brand-new 2017 Christmas cards are also available.
Those supporters who attended Cecily's Day on September 2 had the first chance to buy the new cookbook and cards, but these new products are now available to all. The Supporters' Cookbook is a beautifully-printed labour of love which features over 90 delicious recipes submitted by our supporters.
Divided into seven sections including starters, mains, desserts, and salads the book features recipes for every taste - from old family favourites to exotic dishes from around the world. There is even a recipe which helped win an episode of Come Dine With Me!
Early buyers of the cookbook are delighted with it. Yvonne, the co-ordinator of Swiss Friends of Cecily's Fund, calls it "well-organised, easy to read, practical and humorous" while supporter Martin Gregory is "very impressed with the number and quality of the recipes."
At just £10 the cookbook is great value and makes a perfect Christmas gift - perhaps complemented with one of our six different Gifts of Hope, also available from our shop!
For more information (or to order more than one copy of the cookbook) please contact Georgina via our contact page or by calling us on 01993 358089.
At the 2017 London 10K Run organised by Virgin Sport, Cecily's Fund supporters once again hit the road to raise money for our life-changing work in Zambia.
This year, there were 12 runners in our team - many of them drawn from Southborough High School who have been fantastic supporters of Cecily's Fund in recent years. “Running the London 10k for Cecily’s Fund was amazing from start to finish", says headteacher Niall Smith. "Thoroughly recommended!"
Our other runners included veteran of the 2012 event Henrietta Hill, Ellie Rogers (whose mum is our Chair Steph Harland), and Cecily's cousin Harriette Peel who shared her thoughts on the day:
"The British 10K was a great experience and one that I'm very proud to have completed on behalf of Cecily's Fund. I did it in 56m 22s, which for a first attempt and in pretty high temperatures I'm very proud of! But more than anything, I was struck very strongly by what a privilege it felt to be physically capable of running a race like this at all.
Consequently, the opportunity to use my own health and physical fitness to raise money for those who aren't as fortunate was one that I am very grateful to Cecily's Fund for. Thanks to all the team for their support, and I very much hope that my small contribution will be of use to this fantastic charity."
In total, our wonderful runners have raised almost £2,500 for Cecily's Fund this year - enough to help keep 50 children in school for a year, or to train over 30 Peer Educators. To all those who took part in the 10K or donated to our runners' JustGiving pages - we can't thank you enough!
If you've been inspired by what our runners have achieved and if you feel at home in the water, we have the perfect fundraising opportunity coming up in September! The Swim Serpentine is its organised by the makers of the London Marathon and 2017 is the second year for this fresh new event. To register your interest, fill in our form today - it only takes a minute, and taking part could provide children in Zambia with years' worth of education.
Jon Hurley is a longstanding supporter of Cecily's Fund. He knew Cecily when he too was in Zambia in 1997. Today, he works at the Cardiff office of the professional services firm WYG. Over three days at the end of June, Jon and his colleagues tackled Wales' 3 Peaks Challenge, raising money for Cecily's Fund as part of WYG's "High 5" fundraising scheme. The challenge has raised over £600.
After a few well-earned beers on a Friday night in January, I mentioned that I heard of some people who climbed the Welsh 3 Peaks – Snowdon, Cader Idris and Pen Y Fan – over a couple of days, but also cycled between them. After a couple more drinks the plan was hatched.
We travelled to Bangor on Thursday 30 June by train, with a support van which brought all the bikes, equipment, energy drinks and crate loads of lycra. After a couple of beers on the train (you may have noticed a common theme here!) some bright spark came up with the idea of cycling from the train station in Bangor to Llanberis, where we were staying.
As I pointed out, technically the challenge was to climb the 3 Welsh Peaks, and cycle between them, so any cycling before or after a mountain was outside of the challenge! This was laughed down so after the train pulled into the station at 10pm, and we had waited 10 minutes for the van to turn up off we set.
The following morning the rain and wind which Wales is famous for greeted us as we stepped outside. The cycle from Llanberis to Snowdon was pretty tough in the conditions and this was much the same for the walk up the mountain. After a quick coffee and pasty in the café on the top where the views were non-existent we headed back down. We then had a great descent into Porthmadog where we stopped for a mid-afternoon tea and sandwich. It was then onwards past Harlech Castle and we finally made it to Dolgellau at around 6.
Left: at the summit of Cader Idris. Right: Harlech Castle.
The sun was out on the Saturday and we could not have asked for better conditions as we walked up Cader Idris. This was the hardest mountain of the 3 but in terms views it was absolutely stunning. We even managed to catch the last 5 minutes of the British and Irish Lions second rugby test against New Zealand and it was great to hear them win.
Morale was high as we came off the mountain – however we bumped into a couple of lycra clad fitness fanatics who happened to be doing what we were taking 3 days to do in only 24 hours! With a strong headwind against us we then cycled off to Machynlleth for some much needed supplies before the long and extremely steep climb to Staylittle. It was then a shortish ride to the Elan Vale for the night. We managed to find a local hotel for a great meal, but we were so tired and hungry that we ate on the way to the accommodation – we weren’t too sure what the locals made of 12 sweaty middle aged men sat in lycra eating a 3 course meal!
For the last day of the trip, after some overnight rain, the sun was out again. We made good progress to Builth Wells and got to Brecon for lunch time. Alter a quick sandwich looking over the local canal we tackled the last big climb to the foot of Pen y Fan. Steeling ourselves with a 99 ice cream, the walk up and down Pen y Fan took only one and a half hours. For some of us the trip was now over and we drove back to Cardiff, however the real hard men in the group they decided to tackle the extra 40 miles back home.
Thank you so much to Jon and his team for taking on this fantastic challenge! If you'd like to donate, the team's fundraising page is still open. We're always looking for supporters to fundraise for us and we have places available in the 2017 Swim Serpentine. Interested? Contact us!
Before travelling to Zambia, Cecily attended Bedales School in Hampshire. Two decades on from her tragic death, the school is remembering her by restoring a "Cecily's Garden" and taking part in the Great South Run in October.
Ruth Whiting is the former head of history at Bedales. Her recent blog post discusses Cecily's time at the school and her plans to study Modern Languages at Newham College, Cambridge. One of the school's responses to the loss of Cecily was to create a special garden at the school, which has undergone many changes over the years. This academic year, the garden has been restored.
David Anson, who is guiding the project says: “The aim is to create a cottage garden that makes use of the wild-flower nature of it. The path through it is to encourage the sense of contemplation.”
Bedales' Director of External Communications is organising a large team of runners to take on the Great South Run this October. The money raised (with over 20 runners having been recruited so far) will be divided between Cecily's Fund and the John Badley Foundation. We will of course be supporting the school's generous fundraising efforts in our 20th anniversary year and wish all runners the best with their training!
For more information, see Mr. Reynolds' own blog post.
On June 9 at Burford School, four teams clashed to be the first winners of the Zam Challenge shield - in the end, the school's staff team emerged triumphant and over £740 has been raised for Cecily's Fund.
Burford School generously hosted our five-a-side football event, and entered three teams. The school's staff, Year 12, and alumni teams faced a Cecily's Fund side recruited and captained by Simon Isherwood. Each of the six matches were fast-paced and very competitive, with every team determined to win the day!
Match 1: Year 12 3 - 2 Alumni
Match 2: Staff 5 - 3 Cecily's Fund
Match 3: Staff 2 - 3 Alumni
Match 4: Cecily's Fund 4 - 3 Year 12
Match 5: Staff 2 - 0 Year 12
Match 6: Cecily's Fund 3 - 4 Alumni
In the end, Burford staff won out over their alumni team on goal difference and secured the first ever Zam Challenge championship. Cecily's Fund had to settle for joint third place, but did score more goals than any other team. After the football, players and Burford sixth form enjoyed a barbecue, music and raffle which raised extra funds.
We're hugely grateful to everyone who played, spectated, donated and helped with this special competition which we hope will become an annual event. Our thanks also to Wenn Townsend who sponsored the Zam Challenge, and to Bakers Butchers in Witney who provided the meat for our barbecue.