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.
|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 Mandy, an orphaned grade 8 girl at Kasompe Primary School.
Mandy’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. Mandy’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 Mandy’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, Mandy, 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. Mandy 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 Mandy, 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 Mandy 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, Mandy 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 Mandy 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 Mandy 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 Mandy in school, but with improved educational support and entrepreneurship training, she is likely to keep Mandy 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.”