Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Trip of a Lifetime

It is now 25th August how time flies!

I have been in very regular contact with my friends from Zambia.

On 11th August the Zambian nation went to the polls to elect another president. Edgar Lungu the incumbant president was declared the winner, but the opposition party has gone to court challenging the result. We are currently awaiting the court verdict. Durings the weeks immediately around the elections there has been a lot of political violence. This is not the usual way for Zambia and the signs are worrying. A newspaper, a TV station and two radio stations have been shut down. It might be coincidence that all of these media outlets have been critical of the government – but it is worrying! A lot of prayers are needed at this time to conteract the violence and bring calm and peace back to the country.

Jennipher continues to be busy. She attended a conference in Namibia and is planning to go to a similar one in Zimbabwe where she will again be asked to speak. The third conference will be hosted by Jennipher in Zambia.

Best has also been out of the Country researching laws in Namibia compared with Zambia. He is due to sit his final exams in September.

The violence has hit Monze and shops have been damaged. Diven was doing ok keeping away from trouble, but last week when he was moving goods for safe-keeping he was arrested, because the police thought he was looting. He was freed after a night in jail – for which they charged him 50 kwacha! His goods however have not yet been released and he is struggling to do any business.

I am busy trying to find funds for PIZZ School. I realised this year just what a wonderful project we have, but also the size of the challenge. We need to ensure that the children reach their potential and are not given hope, only to have it dashed.

I have sent letters to all of those who sponsor children at the school and felt that I should provide a few more details about the background for the school and what I have learnt. I think it is worth repeating those notes here:

PIZZ School update and background

In the past year a new classroom block has been erected for PIZZ School and the younger children hope to move in September - the beginning of the next term.Mrs. Sianga intends to create a pre-school in the original building. However PIZZ is not just a school. I think it is worth reflecting on the history.

When Mrs. Sianga started PIZZ School her main concern was the safety the children she had come to know from her work. She worked as a nurse caring for people dying from HIV/AIDS. At that time AntiRetroViral drugs were not available. All her patients died - Mrs. Sianga could only provide a few paracetemol tablets and some words of comfort. Many children were left without parents. These children are very vulnerable. In Zambia relatives will usually take the children into their homes, but pressures on the families often result in the children being sent onto the streets to try to raise some money for food for the family, with all the dangers associated with this activity.

The school was therefore born to keep the children off the streets. However, much more than a school is needed to enable these children to gain an education. Most of the children would very soon leave school without constant care and attention. Children at PIZZ School are regularly monitored, in a caring and non-judgemental way. If they miss lessons, or their performance deteriorates, care-givers will visit the homes and check whether there are particular issues. Sometimes the guardian are found to be ill – on occasions the school will arrange to take the guardian to hospital for treatment. This is all part of the work undertaken by the school.

The school has become a community formed from the children, their parents and guardians, the care-givers, the teachers and other staff at PIZZ School. It works because this community works together and every child is treated individually and their needs addressed.

Hands Around the World was invited to participate in this community in the relatively early stages. We were able to enable the school to develop. It was recognised that, although buildings were important, without quailfied teachers and funds to cover electricity, water and such mundane things as photocopying and buying chalk, the school would be inadequate.

I have just spent two months in Zambia and now appreciate what a wonderful job has been done by Mrs. Sianga and her staff – with our assistance. We now have a school in which we can be justly proud.

I have had the privilege of meeting a lot of children this year. Some I recognise from previous years. It is the children's development that impresses me most. When some of the children come to the school they are very quiet and timid. A few years later these children have developed a marvellous spark of life – they seem happy and some will be confident to perform in front of the school. Many come up to me in town greeting me with smiles and laughter.

Between us we have a school that not only keeps the children safe but also has an excellent academic record – much better than most schools in Monze. Hands Around the World tries to support the children throughout their education. We currently pay the school fees for about 60 children who have progressed to secondary school and one young woman who is in her second year at university. It is important that the children can see that there really is hope for them to escape from a life of poverty. It is essential that we continue to play our part in the complex process which makes the project work so well.

We have enormous challenges ahead. The school's success means that the costs are constantly increasing. We will probably need at least twice our current budget to meet the needs in the coming years!! Anything you can do to spread the word about this project would be most welcome. You can find a recent report on the school at PIZZ School Global Giving Report .

My immediate challenge is to raise £1,500 in the next week to enable 100 students from PIZZ School to visit Livingstone and Victoria Falls. For children who never get away from Monze this is an exciting experience of a lifetime. It is part of the business of motivating the students – showing them that there is another world out there and if they work hard they can be part of it.

Last Year Janes was one of the students who benefitted from the trip. Janes has been the face of Hands Around the World for many years, like the other children in the school there have been many challenges for her and her family to overcome. She is much older than the girl with the frizzy hair seen on the website – in fact I hardly recognised her when we met this year. She did well in her exams at the end of last year and is now in secondary school. I am hoping that people will think about sponsoring a child for the trip to Livingstone. It will cost about £15 each – we need about 84 sponsors to cover the remaining cost! If you would like to help you can use the following link to donate - perhaps you will spread the word.

I am very aware that my fundraising capability is small and that I need a lot of help. I also believe that there is a lot of goodwill around and I am sure some people would welcome the opportunity to be directly involved in a project which is so worthwhile.

Please pray for the people of Zambia at this time, with love and prayers,


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