In Zambia, over 40% of the population live in extreme poverty and the fees that must be paid for children to progress beyond grade 8 and into secondary school are simply not affordable. This is especially true for the families of orphaned and vulnerable children. Cecily’s Fund aims to help children continue beyond primary education, unlock their full potential, and break the cycle that traps communities in poverty.
Vincent (pictured left) is 14 years old and lives in Kitwe’s Mindolo North ward, within Zambia’s resource-rich Copperbelt Province. He lives with his grandmother, who does not have a source of income. Vincent is blunt about their circumstances: “our survival is from hand to mouth.” Vincent’s father passed away and his mother and three siblings live elsewhere. His mother can provide only limited financial help from the income she makes selling tomatoes.
Vincent’s prospects outside of school were poor. He expected to stay at home or to help his mother with her small business selling tomatoes. Other children consider more desperate means to help their families - John (pictured centre), for example, says he would have looked to stealing or selling drugs to help his own grandmother get by.
Our local partners in Kitwe, Afya Mzuri, identified Vincent’s need for support. Through them, Cecily’s Fund has paid 50% of his school fees. “If I had not received the help”, Vincent says, “I would not be in school.” Now, Vincent is in his 10th grade and aspires to be a lawyer. We know that only education can give Vincent and his family a chance at a path out of poverty: our support has lifted his aspirations but life is still hard. Vincent and his grandmother eat only one meal a day and rely on help from their community to get by. When he finishes school, our hope is that Vincent will secure an income that will give himself and his family a better future.
Each year Cecily’s Fund is helping to make education possible for children like Vincent and John but there is so much more for us to do. George (pictured right) is one of a number of children identified recently by Afya Mzuri as being in need of support. He lives in Twatasha ward and has done well enough at school to progress to grade 8 – but the fees are far beyond his means. Having lost both parents, he lives with her widowed sister. Without the money for fees, his education is on hold. “My life as a youngster is being wasted”, he says. “I hope to be something big in future but that might not be because am not going to school.”
With your help, Cecily’s Fund can identify more children like Vincent, John and George and provide them the support their need to complete school, make the most of their lives, and break the cycle of poverty in their communities.
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.”
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.
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.
If you're looking for a different way to raise money for Cecily's Fund, the second Swim Serpentine might be just the event for you!
From the minds behind the London Marathon, Swim Serpentine is a new open-water swimming event which takes place in Hyde Park on September 16. Last year, our two swimmers Tim and Verity (Cecily's sister) raised well over £2,000 by taking part in the first-ever event.
Swimming a mile in open-water might sound intimidating, but with a bit of practice Tim and Verity found it to be very doable - and fun! What's more, the £2,000 they raised is enough for us to support 40 Zambian children to go to school for a year.
This year, Cecily's Fund has six places in this special event. Sign up today to become part of Swim Serpentine and help us make a splash in our 20th anniversary year!
The London 10K, Cecily's Day, and our upcoming Zam Challenge football tournament are all featured within the packed pages of our 2017 Summer Newsletter, available now!
The second of our three 2017 newsletters is the last before our 20th anniversary celebration at Cecily's Day on September 2. It's packed with information on all the events and fundraising going on to celebrate the milestone:
- A new Q&A with two of the teachers from Southborough High School who are once again running the London 10K for us this July
- All the details of The Zam Challenge, a brand-new football event we are running together with Burford School on June 9 (you can learn more and donate here)
- An extensive piece by our co-founder Basil - Cecily's father - on the origins of Cecily's Fund and the ongoing importance of Cecily's Day
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.
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.