Tuesday 14th February
8am Meeting with Lusapila Women’s Group. This group raises two sets of chickens, layers and broilers. They buy the broilers small, feed them up and grow and then sell them on. They also sell eggs The 12 members of this group have received advice on how to raise chickens and belong to a chicken keepers club. They would really like to get an incubator next, which John thought might cost around K4000 (£322.00). The group is going well and the chickens looked well, with lots of chicks.
10am Meeting with Light of Hope Women’s Group. This group makes rugs to sell and they also sell Chitenge fabric. They buy 6m of fabric for K100 (£8.00) and sell for K150 (£12.00). They have recently opened a mobile account because bank charges are too high. They would really like a shop to sell their wares rather than going door to door which is their current operating model. They have put in a funding request for K5000 (£416.00) for shop rental, materials, etc. They currently have K2300 (£185.00) in their account, which consists of the profits on sales.
Wednesday 15th February
8am Meeting with Friends Helping Friends (FHF) which is a committee who manage the hall in Linda School, comprising some representatives from the school and some women from the community. The funds from renting out the hall are split 40% to the school, 40% to the women and 20% for maintenance. The profits for the women are shared out amongst the six women’s groups so this last year each group received K715 (£57.00). The school decides what they do with their 40% share. There has been something of a power struggle between the two groups in the past but that now seems to be resolved. They have recently paid to fix some broken windows, but more maintenance is needed and they are seeking funding. They are requesting K7725.00 (£623), mostly needed to repair the broken sewer system and toilets.
10am Meeting with Doreen. She would like us to write a letter to the District Education Board Secretary (DEBS) Chilanga District. She would like us to ‘thank them for the support they are giving to Linda, more especially the teachers and the current administrators who are transparent, focused in their dealings as a number of positive things have improved, including:
- general improvement in academic and literary performance
- accountable and transparent in financial management
- passion for the OVC, orphans and vulnerable children
- the right attitude the current management has shown has encouraged more donors from VZ to put in more
- we are appealing to your offices that the old PCSC that was dissolved to stay away.’
11.30am Meeting with Zone 8. There are between 6000 and 7000 people living in Z8. VZ has paid for two boreholes, two hand pumps, caretaker’s house, shower and toilet building and wall around this plot, within the larger zone. There have been many issues and difficulties. Pumps broke down but they are now operational. There are now 22 boreholes in Z8 so income has dropped from this project. Francis attributes the recent lack of reports to all the issues mentioned, and now they aim to start on the right track, co-operate within the group and start providing reports. They want funding for razor wire to go on the wall because security is an issue and they have had thefts. We explained that they need to get their house in order, send reports and then we can start talking with them again.
12.30 Meeting with Zone 8 Women’s Group. Sarafina was the only member present. She told us that the group has folded. They were given two sewing machines and she would like to start a new group using these to sew uniforms etc to sell. We encouraged her to get going, ask John for help and then once up and running, we can support the group.
1pm Meeting with John Shawa re the computer course for Mainess, John will pursue another option on Friday when he is attending the opening of a computer lab in a nearby school. One of the Divas is to attend a referees’ course. Funding request from Mr Zumba, (Sports Manager) for a bus to transport football and netball teams, and this could also bring in extra income.
Thursday 16th February
10am Our final meeting in FHF Hall with representatives from women’s groups and Agrion, Christine from PCSC. Agness opened the meeting with a prayer. Christine, Chair of PCSC thanked VZ for their support of PCSC and the School. Mainess thanked us for the visit.
Sophie from Lusapila Group thanked VZ and feels encouraged by our visit.
Phares from Tiyende Pamodzi Group said that women’s lives are improved by VZ support, and girls/women’s education needs to be improved. Her vision for the next step is that women can drive.
Judith from LOH Group thanked VZ and said that now women know more about business.
Lucia from Fiwamina Abantu thanked us for the visit.
Agness from FHF group thanked VZ for their support and for our visit.
Agrion, School rep from FHF group explained that the Hall is used regularly for exams and meetings connected to the school, eg with councillors, MP, Shoprite etc.
We then gave them 220 bras which were gratefully received and they gave Patricia and I some gifts of jewelry made by Miniver and some Chitenge fabric.
Much hugging, kissing and goodbyes.
A brief meeting with Doreen when she introduced us to Frank, a young lad who will be getting a uniform soon thanks to the donation we put in the School’s Charity Box. Then a brief visit to a local school which has a computer lab opening on Friday 17th February. John wanted us to see it because it might be able to provide the computer lessons that Mainess needs.
To witness the level of connection and community was heartwarming, and they welcomed us into their community with love and gratitude. Thank you VZ for giving me this experience.
Final goodbye to John.
Ruthie and Patricia