Sue Allen and I arrived in Lusaka on 15th November. It was extremely hot as the rains were at least a fortnight overdue but as I’d only started working as VisionZambia’s UK Project Manager in September I was pleased to be visiting so soon. It’s only when you see things with your own eyes that you can really appreciate both the work of the charity and the huge needs of the community it supports.
Linda is only around 16km from the capital Lusaka so I was surprised to find that it has a surprisingly rural feel. Although tarmac roads have recently been laid, there are still plenty of dirt roads chock-full of bicycles and pedestrians with small, makeshift shops alongside them.
Economic conditions in Zambia are harsh at the moment and we heard that this is really hitting the small traders as people have little disposable income to buy goods.
Linda Open Community School
Our first visit of the week was to Linda Open Community School where Sue, John Shawa, our Coordinator in Zambia, and I had a meeting with the dynamic Head Teacher Doreen Nzila and her team. Doreen talked about her dream of bringing a real sense of pride to the school so that the community would not just see it as a place for orphans and vulnerable children but as a centre of excellence in its own right that reflects well on the whole of Linda.
Doreen is determined to improve the school’s low literacy rates and we look forward to seeing how the new textbooks we have funded are making a difference in this area.
There is now a school council of 10 students who are consulted regularly, along with a parents’ group who meet once a month. These parents have access to a small garden that they use to grow food such as coriander, mate and maize and it also has some beautiful avocado and other trees. People were working in the garden when we visited and it was looking well cared for and fertile.
Zone 8 Water Project
One of the most successful projects funded by VisionZambia is the Zone 8 water project where we have installed two boreholes with hand pumps, which deliver clean water to a community of over 5000 people. The committee made us very welcome and showed us around the area.
This year VisionZambia has funded a pump house and caretaker’s accommodation and this should be finished by Christmas.
The committee explained how they are empowering themselves and their neighbours by running Zone 8 water as a business and charging a small amount for each 20 litres of water.
At the beginning of November, they were able to give the Zone 8 women’s group a small start-up grant. The group is now learning to use two sewing machines donated by VisionZambia supporters and has already taken a couple of orders for school shirts. They are also producing very pretty skirts for children.
Now their dream is to have a purpose-built shelter where they can keep their machines and materials and meet each other on a regular basis.