June is a lovely time of year to visit Lusaka: The temperature reaches the mid-twenties during the day but cools down at dusk so it is very pleasant. I was surprised though to find everyone talking about the cold.
Head teacher Doreen and her deputy Leah wrap up against the cold!
Linda Open Community School
It was a pleasure to visit Linda School again. The Head Teacher, Doreen Nzila, is coming to the end of her first year’s tenure and has made a very real difference to the life of the school. The children look very smart in their uniforms and seem engaged in their lessons – including learning valuable IT skills in the new computer room. We were told that other community schools are requesting a visit to Linda, as it is fast becoming a model of excellence.
At the request of the Head, Sue ran a very successful half-day workshop shared with a local NGO. Lizzie and Manasseh from the YWCA came to talk to 70 girls about subjects Doreen had highlighted such as avoiding STDs, sex and early pregnancy and gender-based violence (GBV). The Head encouraged the girls to report any abuse to their teachers and then Sue asked them to share their dreams and ambitions for seven years’ time and talked about how powerful women can be. Doreen now hopes to repeat the format of the workshop with the teenage boys.
We visited several of the women’s groups including Lusapila. The12 members of this group keep around 40 chickens to breed and sell on to their neighbours. Earlier this year VisionZambia funded a new chicken house so their hens didn’t have to live in people’s bedrooms and they were keen to show it off to us. They also passed on their thanks to our supporters for helping them to develop their business.
We agreed to a request for seed funding from another group, Tiyende Padmozi, as we were impressed by their passion for renting a small shop in the compound to sell Chitenges (sarongs), which they plan to buy from the main market in Lusaka.
The members of a third group, Fiyamina Abanthu have developed reusable menstrual pads (called Samfyeni or ‘wash and dry’). The group is now awaiting the go-ahead from government in order to be able to sell them.
Mother of Mercy Hospice
All seems to be going well at Mother of Mercy Hospice. Sr. Jeremia has moved into her new office and the old round building is now being used as a staff room. Thanks to our supporters we were able to commit to paying the salaries of 19 staff (4 part-time) until January 2017.
Light of Hope Health Care
We witnessed the distribution of nutritional support for vulnerable under-fives and the elderly, as well as the infant feeding programme and growth monitoring.
Vulnerable elderly people queue up to receive mealie meal and beans.
Light of Hope also supports the boys’ and girls’ football teams. John Shawa is paying for a coach from Lusaka to come out to Linda and give regular training sessions to both teams. We were lucky enough to watch the girls playing a Saturday game in their new kit donated by Fulham Football Club and were delighted that they won 2-0!
The Divas team loving their Fulham kit
All in all it was another worthwhile trip in which we witnessed how ‘Friends Helping Friends’ continues to help develop and strengthen the Linda community.