It’s Wednesday, at least it was when I typed this report. We have yet to have water, electricity and the internet all on at the same time, at least it seems that way. Mosquitoes are buzzing around trying to get at least a score draw!
This morning we divided all the school stationery to give to four schools and we set off to go to the first one - Muumba. This project is a great success and the numbers of children enrolled has risen to nearly 400. Consequently the school needs more classrooms to accommodate all the classes at the same time rather than teaching in shifts. This is a project we are working on, looking for grant funding, unless anyone out there has £35,000 to donate! The expansion will also enable the school to teach up to Grade 9 rather than Grade 7 at present. The school grounds are well laid out with their new borehole and pump, the kitchen garden, playground and toilets and enough space for the proposed extension. All surrounded by a wall and a secured gate.
We gave the head teacher, Mr Bblika, £100 from Merthyr Toddler Group which he will spend on toys and education material for pre-school. We also donated £50 from a Rivertown United Reformed Church member, for text books. There is an albino girl in the school and Mr Bbilika asked us for sun tan lotion to protect her from the sun, which I can vouch is very hot! We bought some from the local chemist and will leave our sun tan lotion behind for her.
There are great plans to continuously improve the facilities here and with your help and hopefully grant funding, we will try our very best to make it happen so that the orphaned and vulnerable children will be well served in their education. Empowering them for the future.
We returned to have lunch and found two HHZ Trustees working together, preparing a grant fund submission to a Zambian Trust. This is good news for HHI as we do need them to become less dependent on our funding.
Before we left for Ntambo we gave a young disabled woman some knitting wool, after deciphering the term cotton wool, realising it is not the white fluffy stuff. She was trained at HHZ and wants to knit school jumpers and earn money to buy more wool. Then a young Mum called in to ask for money to buy baby milk. Her 1 year old baby was in hospital with suspected malnutrition and would not feed from Mum. We took her to the local chemist and bought her a tin of baby milk powder. That is how it is here, you make plans and there always other people’s needs to attend to, but just remember - TIA.
We finally set off for Ntambo, about 45 minutes to drive 15 miles. The roads here are barely passable in many, many places. The purpose of this visit was to go and see how Priscilla’s house was coming on. It is actually for her family but we have helped Priscilla a lot over the years, especially with her education. She is severely disabled and unable to speak. She is bright and has lovely hand writing so we conversed in written word. The house is almost at roof level and time is short before the rainy season. Through HHZ, we will try our very best to finish the job in time. Priscilla asked when Jute (our lead for Zambia) would come and see her next. When I wrote ‘in 2019’ her face dropped - clearly not happy, making it quite clear two men, me and Edmund, do not equal one Jute! We left her some toiletries, a very special gift to someone as poor as Priscilla. We did intend to see the hammer mill nearby and discuss maintaining the mill but could not locate the key holder. We will leave this with our HHZ friends to follow up after we return home.
On our way back to Monze we went to one of the many compounds, we would call them housing estates. This is where the poorest rent a home, or in the case of Charity and her family - just one room within a home; a room about the size of the lounge in my house. One room for Mum, Charity and her brothers and sisters. This would be a fairly typical family set up, one with little prospect of ever improving; except Charity, only 19, has other ideas. With her drive and determination, her positive attitude and clear vision Edmund and I are sure she will succeed.
Two years ago HHZ gave her £35 to start up a business and it is still thriving and providing for both her education and the needs of her family. She is the breadwinner. Charity buys chitengi material, goes house to house and sells the material and with the profit she buys maize flour in bulk. This is then divided into smaller bags and sold house to house. The profit is enough to keep her dream alive, pay the rent and feed the family. “What do want to do when you leave school next year?” “A nurse.” Quick as a flash! May her dreams come true, she deserves it.
This evening we had three visitors and consequently a late dinner. Colin, from Friends of Monze dropped by on a social call then Mr Maninga called by. He was involved in HHZ work a few years ago and it was nice to see him looking so well. Then Dr Ibrahim called, he is working at Monze Mission Hospital. We have worked closely with the hospital and provided equipment, medical supplies and clothes for new born babies. HHI also funds a food programme every month for the malnourishment ward - you wouldn’t find one of these in UK. Dr Ibrahim is thankful for all the items received and we will be taking some knitted jumpers, hats and teddies to the hospital on Friday. Hopefully we will have an opportunity to take photos of the equipment we have sent out recently too.
Another full, productive and emotional day. One that highlights how our supporters have lit candles of hope through their donations and our work. Thank you and good night. Or - Thank you and good morning if network access hasn’t returned. Well water and power is still on. Two out of three ain’t bad!