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.
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.
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.