Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Journey begins

The Journey of the Football

I am not too sure whether it is a good idea to put a football in a box and post it to Zambia! Anyway, since there was a more interesting way of getting the ball to its destination, I have chosen this alternative method.

The football is a gift from St. Gregory's and St. Thomas More's parishioners in Cheltenham to our partner parish of our Lady of the Wayside inspired by Zambia success in winning the Africa Cup of Nations.

Rhona has spent all her life in Cheltenham. She was baptised at St. Gregory's church, learning about the Catholic faith during children's liturgy sessions at mass and going on to make her first holy communion there. Representing the children of the parish she handed the football to me.

Most of you will know more than enough of my background! In this context however, I have been a parishioner at St. Gregory's church for more than 30 years, in which time I have have been involved in many church related activities including as the parish CAFOD representative for many years. Over recent years I have become very much involved with Hands Around the World as volunteer, trustee director, project co-ordinator etc.

Perhaps South Wales isn't the most obvious next stop on the way to Zambia but this is where I took the ball last Monday – to a small place called Dingestow (just outside Monmouth) where Hands Around the World has its office. There I passed it to David Steiner.

About 20 years ago David spent a year in Zambia with his family. He worked as a doctor at St. Francis Hospital, Katete. Seeing children die unnecessarily he wanted to try to do something to make a difference. This inspired him to establish an organisation to provide support for disadvantaged children - to try to give them a chance of a better future. Hence Hands Around the World was born. It is therefore fitting that the major journey for our football will use some of those hands.

The next journey is a short one. David handed the ball to Joanna, his daughter, who lives in Newport. Joanna has been involved with Hands Around the World since it's inception (and before!) In recent years she has done most of the orientation for volunteers as well as education, fundraising etc. etc.

We hope to get photos for most of the handovers and I will fill in a little of the background of the people who partake in this relay.

I have informed Fr. Raphael that the ball is on its way. He tells me that in recent days the parish council met to talk about ways of helping the young people of the parish. They decided to encourage them to get involved in sporting activities – football and netball being suggested. They were donated one football which they will initially share between two groups. Another football would be very much appreciated so that they can have a ball for each group. It is so easy to forget how much a single football can mean for a parish in Monze!

Best wishes


Zambia update

March 2012

It is now 6 months since I returned from Zambia but that doesn't mean I haven't been in touch since! For instance today I spoke to Diven – his shop is improving and life seems to be OK at the moment. I also spoke to Luke who has recently received my old laptop – delivered by Deana a health visitor who is spending 3 months in Monze as a Hands Around the World volunteer. I spoke to Deana yesterday. She was in Livingstone having a couple of days break. She is a retired Health Visitor and is spending a lot of time visiting people in the community with local care givers. She is certainly seeing Monze in the raw which can be distressing but is also a rare and privileged experience for someone from our part of the world.

Much has happened since I left. In October a storm removed the roof of PIZZ school. Hands Around the World sent out money to effect a speedy repair and our generous donors soon covered these costs. The results at PIZZ school were good with several students passing grade 9 examinations despite all the difficulties. This presents a further problem for funding Secondary School places. Jennipher's children Mike and Sandra also did well and are proceeding to further studies. Sandra is now training to become a nurse and Mike is studying in Lusaka for an engineering qualification.

Kaliyangile is struggling because of limited funding. An application for a substantial grant to put the project onto a solid footing failed. The project is now being promoted on Global Giving and we hope some funds will soon come through this site.

The link between St. Gregory and St. Thomas More's churches in Cheltenham and Our Lady of the Wayside Monze is getting stronger. During Lent the children from each community are praying for each other and learning a bit more about each other.

Inspired by Zambia's success in the Africa Cup of Nations Canon Bosco obtained a football which along with the children he signed. This ball has started on it's journey to Monze. The next blog will tell you a bit about it's journey.