Joyce Ayles, trustee of the The HEAL Project explains how the UK charity has become involved:
“In 1999 we were visiting our daughter, Helen, in Zambia and she introduced us to the HEAL Project. I bought the ladies a sewing machine, as at that time they were hand sewing everything! As the years have gone past, and with help from various other organisations, we have been able to send shipments of vital supplies including knitting machines and several hand sewing machines which are much in demand as most houses do not have electricity.
We have visited each year to see the project and the progress made at the school and Jeannie’s house. At the school there are now 7 teachers plus other ancillary staff, 4 large classrooms, an office, kitchen and storeroom, and a large sewing workshop. Currently 350 children have lessons and food at the school. Vocational skills such as sewing, cooking and gardening are also taught. Sewing and knitting classes are also held for women from the surrounding community, thus giving them a skill to enable them to earn a living.
Over the last few years The HEAL Project has bought a large piece of land and built a house where Jeannie and 30+ orphans and sick children live. A large garden produces vegetables for the house and school, and some for sale, which provides employment for some of the teenage boys who live in a separate house on the site. There is room in the grounds for the children to play games – football is the most popular.
The ongoing need is for funds to pay for teachers and to provide essential equipment such as text books, exercise books, pencils, games equipment, even beakers and plates – basic things. Currently we are sending £3000 per month to the school and £500 per month to Jeannie at the orphanage.
We take everything we have for granted, but their homes have no running water or electricity and the children have few toys. In spite of everything, though, they are a happy uncomplaining group, very grateful for all we do.”