An update of the Heal Project school situated on the edge of the Ngombe compound a few miles from Lusaka. As many of you will know the school was started 15 years ago for the benefit of orphaned or poor children. Education in Zambia is free if you can afford to pay for uniform, suitable shoes, books, food, etc. otherwise you are excluded. At the time Jeannie Mulenga who suffers from HIV aids was befriended by Helen and with a group of other women sufferers had started a sewing group. Most of these women have died but they had asked if we could start a school so that their children could be educated. So we decided to set up what is known as an Open Community School, which is not funded by the Zambian government. At present 300 children attend.
School classrooms, buildings funded by a Zambian businessman.
Open sided workshop building funded by Ringwood Rotary Club.
The school has eight general curriculum teachers who are each paid £150 per month, two sewing teachers £100, two cleaners £75, and a garden boy about £50. Not a lot by UK standards, but they are happy and seem to manage. On top of this we send £500 per month for food for the children as few of them have any food at home before attending school, and all receive a bun and drink at break time, and a school dinner. We are currently sending £3,000 per month to cover these costs, and what little is left over is used for school repairs and supplies.
A recent photograph we have received shows the need for more desks so we are hoping to send money for these – how many children I wonder in the UK would be prepared to sit on the floor for their lessons!
The children have been busy taking examinations in the different grades. The school is inspected by the Zambian government Teaching Council and reports have been very good. The government has introduced a law that each teacher has to register with the Zambian Teaching Council in both government and community schools, including private schools. Each teacher has to obtain the practising licence. The fees for the community school ones which the Heal Project come under, is approximately £30 per teacher. During the Christmas school holidays all community school teachers will be undergoing the training organised by the Zambian Teaching Council.
Over the past few years we have sent sewing machines so older girls can have lessons, and have extended sewing classes for women from the community to have a twelve week course in sewing. They have recently had a new intake and once they have reached a good standard of making things they will be selling at the two markets: the monthly Dutch Reformed Church market, and every Sunday at one of the shopping arcades.
In the past we have sent carpentry tools but the school is finding teaching this subject difficult. We cannot afford to pay a fully qualified carpentry teacher and the cost of materials to work is too high.
Work is continuing in the garden, but this year water has been a challenge. The school hasn’t got a water pump to get water from the nearby stream to the school garden. And water for gardening cannot be taken from the tank erected using the electric water pump extracting water from the bore hole on the school site as because of load shedding there is insufficient water for the garden and school use for toilets etc. All of Zambia is experiencing electricity power cuts of up to eight hours a day, so it is difficult to manage any electrical appliances. With regard to the water shortage for the gardens. I have just heard from Helen that it has started raining! So the sowing of various seeds can begin.
Just recently members of the Ngombe Health Centre have visited the school and vaccinated pupils and other children in the surrounding area against measles and rubella.
As you can see from this short report life is very different in Zambia from that in the UK, but everyone is very happy and grateful for all the help we are giving not only to children, but to many adults which is making a big difference in their lives.
Thank you to everyone who gives us the financial support and encouragement for us to continue running the Heal Project.