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.
On Saturday September 24, two intrepid Cecily's Fund supporters will take on the first-ever Swim Serpentine event, raising money for our life-changing work in Zambia.
The culmination of our Super September of fundraising events, Swim Serpentine is a new mass-participation swim created by the minds behind the London Marathon. Together with thousands of others, Cecily's sister Verity Eastwood-Dewing (pictured) and Tim Cooke-Hurle will swim one mile in the Serpentine, the lake within London's iconic Hyde Park. "I'm going to swim a mile around the Serpentine for Cecily's Fund", Tim says, "because it's a great cause that helps thousands of kids."
Verity and Tim have been training hard for this challenging event, and their fundraising has got off to a great start - together they've raised over £1,400 for Cecily's Fund; enough to train 18 our of Peer Educators, or to send around 14 children to school.
To give our swimmers some extra encouragement and to help boost their impact in Zambia, please consider sponsoring them:
Verity, Tim and Cecily's Fund would hugely appreciate your support. What we're calling Super September has already seen our co-founder cycle around Oxfordshire, supporters Kate and Marc take on the triathlon world championships in Mexico and cycle from London to Brighton, respectively. Collectively, these events have raised almost £4,000 for our work - an amazing total. Please support Verity and Tim and help us make an even bigger splash in Zambia!
Cecily's Day, our annual celebration, comes around again this week. We'd love for you to join us for a picnic and the chance to discuss the difference we are making in Zambia as we look towards our 20th year.
Cecily's Day is always special. It's a unique opportunity for our supporters, staff and trustees to meet in the beautiful environment of Stonesfield Manor's gardens. In 2016, it is more important still - because this year's event will be the last to take place in Stonesfield before an exciting move closer to our office in Witney in 2017. Additionally, a major theme of this year's event is looking forward to next year, our 20th anniversary year.
All our supporters are welcome as ever, and we very much hope you will be able to join us. We'll gather at Stonesfield Manor (OX29 8QB) at 1pm. We'll then go to the nearby church where you can meet our staff and trustees and hear some short presentations on our achievements in Zambia over the last 12 months. Finally, we'll return to the gardens of the manor for the usual Cecily's Day picnic. Other things to look forward to include:
- Brand new 2016 Christmas cards on sale
- Brand new, revised Gifts of Hope on sale
- Informative displays on our work
Please bring your own picnic, your friends and family and any chairs you may need to Stonesfield Manor at 1pm this Saturday and help us celebrate and enjoy this special day. We'll be posting on social media using the hashtag #CecilysDay - we hope you will join us there, too! If you like, you can also RSVP on Facebook.
By phone: 01993 358 089 / 186
Once again, an intrepid group of runners took on the British 10K London Run on July 10. So far, they have already raised over £3,250 for Cecily’s Fund.
The British 10K London Run once again played host to some stellar athletic and fundraising efforts in 2016. Cecily’s Fund supporters have been a part of this event for many years, and this year’s team have again done us proud.
Southborough High School contributed a number of runners again this year, after joining us for the first time in 2015. Cecily’s sister Philippa and her husband Louw also took part, each bringing along some of their colleagues to join in. The Doughty Street Dashers, the running team from Doughty Street Chambers of which Philippa is a part, have their own long history of running the 10K for Cecily’s Fund.
So far, the runners have collectively raised over £3,250 for our work in Zambia - a fantastic total which will help to make a huge difference to the lives and futures of young people in Zambia. Cecily’s Fund is extremely grateful to everyone who took part and who sponsored our amazing runners!
Visit our Fundraisers' Pages