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Choongo School is improving

Choongo School is a mainstream Secondary school 8 km outside Monze. Mr Mwzila is the Head teacher. The school has a residential unit which specifically caters for nearly 60 physically disabled students. It is an all-inclusive school. The disabled students are aged between 9 and 23. There are two dormitories joined together with a partition. It doesn’t provide enough accommodation for the students who sadly need to share a bed. The house parents do their best to look after the students and one lovely lady, Peggy Kalima, has recently become a HHZ trustee.

Mobility aids

HHI has had a good working relationship with Choongo school over many years. When containers were sent to Monze from the UK, Choongo school received stationery, sports equipment, wipe down mattresses and in 2009 the Scouts from Strathaven, Scotland visited the school and repaired the broken classroom windows and painted the frames.

Choongo mattress

New mattress

Cramped dormitory

Cramped dormitory

Mobility aids including wheelchairs have been provided by HHI to the school and Robbie, the HHZ carpenter and repair man, who regularly visits the school and provides a free wheelchair repair service.

Choongo student wheelchair

Student assessed for wheelchair

Choongo Robbie repairing wheelchair

Robbie repairing wheelchair

Kitchen and Dining facilities

The kitchen in which the house parents prepared food for the residential students was in very poor condition. It was a metal Rondaval-style hut which was in danger of collapsing. Food was cooked on open fires under the rickety roof, and in the rainy season the situation was grim. In 2023, thanks to the donation received from Big Picture Charity Films, HHI was able to provide funds to have it rebuilt. It is now a brick building with electricity, running water and a tiled floor.

Chongo kitchen (old)

Original kitchen

Chongo kitchen (new)

New kitchen with Nik and Maria

Robbie, the HHZ carpenter, has also repaired and strengthened benches and tables for the disabled students to use in their dining area.

Robbie at work

Robbie at work

Repaired tables and benches

Disabled students sponsored by HHI

HHI has regularly paid the termly fees for five of the disabled Choongo students.   Chipo and Exhildah  have been sponsored for the last 8 years by HHI. They are about to sit their final grade 12 exams.  Chipo, who has dwarfism, would like to be a nurse. Exhildah, who has difficulties walking, would like to study accountancy.

Bibian is one of the oldest disabled students in Choongo school who receives support from HH. She became an amputee in 2021 after suffering with a terrible lymphatic disease for most of her life. She did not attend school because of the stigma and difficulties with her walking. She finally managed to realise her ambition of returning to school aged 22 with a wheelchair, an artificial limb and support from HHI.

Chipo and Exhildah

Chipo and Exhildah

Bibian with Jute

Bibian with Jute

So how else can we help the students at Choongo?

There are always on-going needs in a school which is trying to cater for so many disabled students. The need for an extra dormitory has already been mentioned and HHI has asked Mr Mwzila for a quotation for a new dormitory build. This will mean that students will not have to sleep in the same bed.

Can you imagine a school or any public place in the UK not being able to provide access to the toilets for disabled pupils? No is the very clear answer. Fortunately, a pit latrine for the Choongo girls has just been provided by a former house parent with handrails, a concrete ramp and enough space to allow wheelchairs to turn.  HHI is hoping to provide one very quickly for the boys too.

Choongo cramped dormitory

Cramped dormitory

Girls' pit latrine

Girls’ pit latrine

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