December 2011 Newsletter

Welcome to the latest HEAL Newsletter. This newsletter is brought to you from Lusaka and from England and aims give you the latest news and information about HEAL.


The HEAL project started in 1999 by Jeannie Mulenga with the help of friends and supported.

Jeannie writes:

“I suffer from HIV/AIDS. I was in a desperate state of health after contracting the disease from my husband. He died leaving me with three children and no home. My children were thrown out of school because I could not afford the fees. I faced discrimination and stigma in all aspects of my life. I was living on the streets when I met Dr Helen Ayles at the HIV/AIDS clinic. She started treating me, my health improved and she helped me start a small business. I rented a room and soon I was able to support my children and myself. My children were able to go back to school.”

After being given the chance of a healthy life with the HIV treatment provided by the project, plus the support she received, she began to rebuild her own life, overcome the
stigma attached to the illness, and was able to offer her children a future. Jeannie was determined to extend this help to others in the same situation. In 1999, together with Dr Helen and her family, the Heal Project was set up.

The Heal project started out supporting an income-generating group. The group’s aim was to provide a living for its members who were in some way affected by HIV. The first sewing machine was bought for a group of women in 1999 during a visit to Zambia by Dr Helen’s family: Joyce and David Ayles and Jen Sturtridge. On their next visit, they opened a mud and thatch classroom in Ngombe compound in Lusaka, offering free education to about 40 vulnerable children.

Joyce Ayles writes:

“I have been involved in the HEAL project since it started in 1999 when we visited my daughter, Helen, and were introduced to the group. I bought the women a sewing machine, as they were sewing everything by hand! Through the auspices of several organizations, we have been able to send shipments of vital supplies, including knitting machines, and several sewing machines. We have visited every year to see the project and the progress made. “

Many of Jeannie’s friends and members of the original income-generating group have died, leaving their children orphaned. Jeannie took these children – many of them were HIV positive and already sick – into her rented home and gave them the love and security they needed as well as the specialized treatment they require. This was the start of the Transit Home that now houses 30 children.

Jeannie has been awarded the Stephen Lewis Fighting Spirit award at the African Women 10th Anniversary of African Women Development Fund in 2010 in Ghana.

Jeannie also won the Catherine Nyirenda Special Award at the XVIII International AIDS Conference in 2010 in Vienna.

She and Barron, one the children, are preparing a presentation for the International AIDS conference to be held in Washington DC in 2012.

HEAL is applying for the red ribbon award.


Ngombe School now has three large permanent classrooms, an office, kitchen, storeroom, and toilets. 350 children of all ages attend the school. These are children usually affected by HIV, usually orphans and vulnerable children who are unable to meet the requirements of government schools.

There are 5 teachers, teaching children up to Grade 5 in seven subjects including mathematics, English, social studies, science, religious education and Zambian languages. The children are being taught using the “Breakthrough to Learning” course published by Longmans. The school hopes to offer the children Grade 7, which marks the end of primary school and is required for entrance to secondary education.

Sport is very important to all Zambians – especially football. The school has three football teams and two netball teams. The children mostly play in bare feet. But that does not stop the fun.

The school owns land where they grow vegetables and rear chickens. This helps to ensure that the children attending the school eat at least one meal a day. Surplus vegetables and chickens are sold to the local community.

HEAL pays the salaries and provides funds for essential supplies. Currently the costs for 5 teachers, a housemother, caretakers and food for the school are around £1,500 per month. But the school faces challenges every day – the kitchen roof came down, the toilets are insufficient, the borehole pump breaks down from time to time and then there is no water. There are more children needing the school than there are places to accommodate them.

The children that come to the school face challenges at home. They come from the poorest households and are often poorly clothed and malnourished. Their carers are often grandmothers and grandfathers, whose own children have died from AIDS, leaving many grandchildren to be cared for by the elderly with few resources. The school gives these families a sense of belonging and security. Children know they have somewhere to go where they are welcome for a few hours a day and where they receive support and food.

Ngombe community school lies in the heart of the community. A large carpentry and sewing workshop was built with support from the ROTARY club. Women take needlework courses where they learn to make clothes and bags, which they sell. There are now 40 sewing machines that have been donated or bought over the years. Some women and teenage girls are producing crafts with crochet, beads, and waste materials. Older girls are also learning cooking and make fritters and cakes for sale in the local market. With the support of local craftsmen, Jeannie was able to set up a business, making and selling various painted papier-mâché goods and painted animals. Young men learn carpentry in the community centre. They make desks, beds, and other pieces of furniture for sale in the local community and provide the school and Jean’s home with much needed furniture.


Jeannie provides a happy home to 30 babies, children and youth between the ages of 1 – 23 years old. In 2006, HEAL, with support from the Lombard Trust and PKCF managed to buy some land and build a purpose built transit house a short walk from the school. The house gives the children a home where they feel secure, free and comfortable. Most of the children attend local schools. They receive Anti Retro Viral (ARV) drugs at specialized government clinics that treat children with HIV. The home has a large vegetable garden that provides the family with vegetables, with enough over to take to the school. The children flourish in a happy and supportive environment.


Volunteers are welcome to join Jeannie and the kids for anything up to about 6 weeks. The new house has two simple rooms where volunteers can stay. Jeannie charges US$100 a week for food and accommodation.

Recently we have had lots of volunteers:

  • Zoe and Tom have been involved with HEAL for a number of years and have set up a fund to improve children’s nutrition.
  • Robin taught the children how to play chess and they are now winning local chess tournaments.
  • Charlie stayed for a short time and helped set up computers.
  • Maya worked with the women in the community to help with their reading and writing.
  • Ia, Matilda, Robin and Olly taught literacy, maths, arts and crafts, at Ngombe school.
  • Lizzie, a nurse, spread her passion for hand washing and soap.
  • Ali taught the guitar and Ben played football and helped organize tournaments.
  • Eve helped set up the vegetable garden at the transit home and installed an irrigation system.
  • Jack helped organise the football team and donated football jerseys.


There are lots of projects going on at the moment. These are:

  • Carpentry and Tailoring at the Ngombe Community centre: they need skills and equipment, especially to make new desks for the school
  • Improved sanitation at the school.
  • Adult literacy especially for women and youth.
  • Literacy for the kids, especially those who do not go to school.
  • Meeting Shelter for young women and men on medication who require a safe environment to meet and share experiences.
  • Sports including developing sports grounds and equipment.
  • Arts and Crafts and skills and materials.
  • Vegetable Gardening skills, equipment and seeds are needed.
  • Small livestock rearing for eggs and meat.
  • Fruit farming for mangoes, lemons, oranges, bananas.


JEANNIE MULENGA : +260976557824;

Joyce and David Ayles: Windwhistle Cottage, Hightown, Ringwood, Hants. BH24 3HQ. Tel: 01425 474033

Dr Helen Ayles:

Clare Pope:; +260977874353

Facebook Page search HEAL, HIV Empowered and Living


HEAL is a registered society in Zambia and has a local bank account.

HEAL is also a registered charity in the UK. (no:1120416)

It is governed by a Board of Trustees with 10 members. Jeannie Mulenga is the Chairperson.

All the money raised goes directly to the project as the administration is managed on a voluntary basis.



Dr Helen Ayles and her family Joyce and David Ayles & Jenny Strutridge coordinate support and funding efforts and usually send more than UK£ 1,500 to run the school, and help to fund school buildings and support income generation projects. They also coordinate all the fund raising and administration of the funds in UK.

LOMBARD Trust provided funds to build and maintain the Transit home and purchase vehicles.

Poppili Khalatbari Charitable Trust (PKCF) helped fund the building of the transit home.

Akash bought furniture for the transit home.

Orange babies help with the running costs of the Transit home.

Rotary Ringwood raised funds for the community hall.

Zoe Lang and Tom Godfrey Faussett send £350 per month for nutrition for Jeannie’s children. Dr Barry sends monthly supplies of peanut butter.

Conservation Foundation manages the day to day administration and help in various way with building projects at the school at the Transit home.

So many people have visited Jeannie and have donated school equipment, books, clothes, furniture, computers and so on.

If you wish to support HEAL in any way, contact Jeannie, Joyce, or Helen.

If you wish to volunteer and stay with Jeannie then you should contact Jeannie, Helen or Clare