Witney, February 27, 2017
Cecily's Fund Receives DREAMS Innovation Challenge Grant
Aims to Keep Zambian Girls in School and Reduce HIV Infection
Oxfordshire charity Cecily’s Fund is proud to be named as one of 55 recipients of a DREAMS Innovation Challenge grant that will support adolescent girls and young women to become Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe. Cecily’s Fund is one of just two U.K. recipients, out of over 800 applicants, to be awarded a DREAMS Innovation Challenge grant, which will be utilized to enhance access and retention in secondary school for girls and young women in Zambia. JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. is the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) funds manager for this award.
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 by the end of 2017.
Through this grant, Cecily’s Fund will enhance its work in the city of Chingola, Zambia, where pregnancy can account for as much as 90 percent of girls’ drop-out rate in certain schools. Cecily’s Fund will work to help 900 girls stay in school, reduce their vulnerability to HIV and early pregnancy, and help them fulfil their true potential. Together with Zambian partner organisations, Cecily's Fund will strive 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.
Over the last two decades, Cecily's Fund has enabled thousands of orphaned and vulnerable children in Zambia to attend school. This DREAMS Innovation Challenge grant, which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the founding of Cecily's Fund, is a major achievement for a U.K. non-governmental organisation (NGO), one that will provide the charity with an exciting opportunity to have its biggest impact yet.
Notes to Editors
- Cecily’s Fund is U.K. registered charity #1071660, based in Witney, Oxfordshire and founded in 1997
- Further information on Cecily’s Fund programmes available at www.cecilysfund.org
- For more information about PEPFAR, please visit www.pepfar.gov
A beautiful set of notelets with five different designs is the latest product to be added to the Cecily's Fund shop, with all proceeds supporting our work in Zambia.
Each featuring a striking photograph taken during the supporters' trip to our programmes in July 2016, the new notelets come in packs of ten. There are two copies of each design within each pack; the notelets are blank inside for your message, and come complete with envelopes for just £3.50 per pack.
Buying and using these notelets is a fantastic way to not just support our work, but also share it with your friends and family. As with our Christmas cards, information about our work as well as our contact details is included on the back.
Our notelets are available now from the Cecily's Fund shop.
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
Help us celebrate two decades' of work in Zambia by adding to our impact in 2017
This year marks 20 years since the establishment of Cecily's Fund, and our celebrations have already begun! In the two decades we have been working in Zambia, we've made an huge impact. With your support, we've helped thousands of children attend school, receive vital health information, and enjoy broader opportunities to succeed.
In 2017, there's no better way to mark how far we've come than by continuing to move forward. The need for our work is still very real and children in the communities we work with face continue to tremendous challenges on the road to education and independence. That's why our aim this year is to raise an additional £20,000 to help us make our biggest impact yet.
However much you can donate or raise towards our £20,000 target, you'll be supporting a whole range of Cecily's Fund activities which are changing lives right now. From providing a nutritious lunch to vulnerable children in community school to helping businesses get started, your support really counts where it's needed.
Some supporters have already made an inspiring start to our fundraising. Verity and Tim took on the first-ever Swim Serpentine last September and raised over £2,000; while Kate competed at the World Triathlon Championships, raising £750. We'll be sharing some similar exciting opportunities during the year - but you can raise a great amount by doing something as simple as a coffee and cake event, exactly as Mary did. For a host of tips, download our fundraising pack today.
An annual celebration of our work, Cecily's Day is always a special event. Last year (pictured) was the final instalment to take place in Stonesfield, and in 2017 Cecily's Day will be the culmination of our 20th anniversary year. At St. Mary's Church in Witney - very close to the Cecily's Fund office - supporters will have the chance to hear from our staff and patrons at a unique gathering to mark two decades' of our impact together.
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.