Friday 24th July
Its hard to believe that another week has gone by! Today is the last of five birthdays which occur every 4 days between 8th July and today. My success rate at remembering the order and at least making a phone call has varied. In Monze it is relatively easy to ring via Skype – electricity and network permitting, travelling to Chisamba and Kabwe however made life a little more tricky.
I managed to catch a bit of a cold – perhaps in Chisamba where the nights were surprisingly chilly. Yesterday I felt rather worse for wear, but today a bit of energy has returned.
I made a brief visit to Mrs Sianga, then settled at home on the computer. I needed to make contact with Jane who will join us on Monday – and succeeded in having a bit of a chat. Diven called around with Delia in the afternoon because he was worried about my illness. I told him that I would soon be fine again and he left a bit re-assured.
I decided I needed a good night's sleep and turned in early.
This morning I took my time rising and felt a bit better. Jane has a mobile phone charger for Jennipher to replace the one destroyed by lightening. However, she is not allowed to bring the battery on the plane. I therefore need to find how I can find another. Victor who is doing much of the building work at PIZZ School said he might be able to help, if he had the specification. I decided to provide a copy for him and leave it with Mrs. Sianga. In the event she arranged for him to meet me at the school and he was able to suggest two shops in Lusaka where I could probably obtain a battery or if not be told where to find one. Both shops are within walking distance of where I will get off the bus so I should be able to go on Monday. He assured me that such batteries are easily found in Zambia.
I met with Rosemary this morning - a quiet first year student. She is one of about 35 students for whom we have sponsors in the UK. Other than having a chance to talk to me, so that I can tell some of their stories to their sponsors, the children do not individually gain benefits. However the school receives some regular funds and the sponsors have a chance to follow the progress of astudent at the school. The children are picked often because they have a particularly difficult background. Sometimes the fact that someone is taking interest can give them the boost they need. Rosemary was very quiet and didn't say a lot – hopefully next year I will see a lot more confidence, as I have observed this year with many of the older children.
There was a meeting this morning with others from Hands Around the World in the UK about the child sponsorship programme and I agreed to attend via Skype. On the whole it was a very successful session where I felt part of the meeting, which lasted for about two hours. If all the students at PIZZ were sponsored it would provide sufficient funds for the school to operate well. So we just need another 300 sponsors!! If you are interested to find out more about the scheme you can find details on the HATW website. Hands Around The World
Just before the meeting John came knocking on the door. I haven't seen John for several years. In fact I wondered whether he was still around. It is many years ago that John asked me for a pickaxe and shovel so he could build himself a well! A friend who read my blog offered the equipment and the saga of John's well began. I won't recall everything here but needless to say the two implements were not quite sufficient to complete the job. It started getting complicated after about 1 ½ metres! Getting out of the hole and removing the soil required a windlass and a bucket – oh and a friend to hoist the buckets contents (whether soil or John!). Eventually a 30 metre deep well was constructed!! Anyway John is still around, but picked the worst time to call. I really was pleased to see him and thought I'd arranged for him to see me later. He didn't return – maybe he'll catch up with me again this year or in the future!
I met another student after lunch and spent a while talking to the headmaster and deputy. They had decided to represent the teachers to save me listening again to teachers concerned about the very low salaries they are paid. I was glad of the opportunity to talk to them, but also suggested I spoke to the teachers.
Hands Around the World has been paying the teachers wages at PIZZ School for a number of years. When we started, although the wages were below those of government teachers, the difference was not huge. However, two or three years ago government teachers received large rises in their salaries, but we have been able to do little to increase our funding. Donors can sometimes be found to pay for buildings or equipment, however very few will consider paying ongoing costs such as teacher's salaries. It is easy to put up a classroom and show some nice pictures, but without teachers it is a waste of money! Yet I have great difficulty persuading almost anyone else that there is no better way of using our money than paying for teachers to provide education to the students. At PIZZ School many lives have been changed significantly. Children are not on the streets with all the dangers that entails, and the older students are now progressing through secondary and some onto tertiary education. I want to tell the teachers just how proud they should be for the wonderful work they are doing. I recognise that they are not paid enough and I can't promise any increase. I will however fight for everything I can get to ensure the school continues to improve the lives of many children – and perhaps save the lives of some!
Time for a quick trip into town to meet Mr. Meheritona the director of HHZ. We know each other from the time he was the manager at St. Vincent's School here in Monze. We talked about bee projects, containers and other issues. I was also interested in his work with the Leonard Cheshire organisation. This group spent last year looking at improving accessibility in schools in the Monze area for children with disabilities. After a successful trial the initiative is being extended to other parts of Zambia. I do some driving for Leonard Cheshire in the UK and am interested in talking to the organisation here and possibly forging some sort of link. I have set an appointment to follow this up next Wednesday.
I realised this evening that it was Charlie's birthday, so I made a hasty call and interrupted his party!
For supper I found some dried fish which we had with sweet potatoes and cabbage.
With love and prayers,