I have just returned from a two month visit to Zambia.
Despite the rain stopping early, a reasonable maize crop is expected. The poultry and dairy projects are doing well. Guinea fowl and fish are now mature and ready to increase their numbers to provide a good stock of both.The guinea fowl were the first birds to be reared from eggs using a new incubator recently donated
The centre is now accredited to Teveta – the local training body – and is able to undertake examinations on site. Unfortunately staffing issues prevented the tailoring students from sitting their exams last term. We hope to have a new trainer in post soon and the students will then be able to sit their exams – in the meantime at least two are producing goods and selling them to help maintain themselves and their families. Another past student is keeping chickens to earn a living.
It was agreed to try to increase community involvement in the project and encourage local youth leaders to make use of the facilities for their own activities where it doesn't impact on the training operations. It is likely that some sports and other activities will take place at the centre, leading to more young people becoming involved in learning skills. It is also important to help the young people to be encouraged to get involved in positive activities, rather than drifting into the local bars.
While I was at the Centre the first 5 beehives were set up by the orchard. A further 15 hives have been constructed and will be positioned in due course.
The water supply has been improved and an irrigation system has been purchased for the paddock where a special grass has been planted for the animals. This is expected to improve the milk yield and ensure the animals are kept healthy.
There has been a delay with the piggery because of the restrictions imposed due to an outbreak of swine flu. This is expected to be resolved shortly and the pigs will be introduced to the site.
The added awareness of the community has sparked new interest from some of the young people in the area, keen to learn some skills. There are increased opportunities available as a result of the increased variety of agricultural activities now taking place, with the potential to change the lives of many of the local disadvantaged teenagers.
I left Siriba at the end of February and when I returned, David Steiner asked me to become project co-ordinator. This was an exciting step for me since having been to Siriba on three occasions, many of the local people had become good friends. Their world is so different to mine and with many things buzzing around in my mind I was keen to to do my best to help the Vocational Training Centre as much as possible in the months and hopefully years ahead.What I didn’t realise then was that as project co-ordinator, there was never going to be a dull moment! My priority is to keep in touch with the VTC at all times and so we have engaged Rita Epodoi from Uganda Development Services to monitor on a monthly basis in order to improve communication.When I was at Siriba I noted that many of the tools needed upgrading and so we have ordered refurbished ones from 'Tools with a Mission' costing in the order of £900 including shipping from the UK and transport in Uganda. Delivery is expected soon.Since I have been back home one of my highlights has been a visit from Hands around the World trustee, Wendy Sutton-Pryce. She has made an imaginative video of my stay in February which can be seen here. She took it to her church and raised over £2000 which we plan to use training the really underprivileged.April saw the biennial change in the Board of Govenors. We now have a very able Oskar Okumu as Chair, with the whole process supported and encouraged by Bishop George Kasangaki.A new mains water system has been provided in the surrounding district and once we have clearance we are hoping to connect to it and also provide water harvesting as a back up. I am planning to return in September, the main priority being to work through a plan of sustainability which we hope will climax in about three years’ time.
I have just returned from a two month visit to Zambia – most of which was spent at Monze. This gave me a good opportunity to meet Mrs. Sianga, the staff and students of PIZZ School and talk about the issues and progress made at the school.
It is always a delight to visit the school and see the bright happy and confident students. This year the children are looking healthier as a result of the food they are now receiving each day. The fact that the food makes such a difference, demonstrates the difficult lives these children live. I was able to talk to a number of students who are being sponsored through Hands Around the World – both current students and some who have moved on to local secondary schools. It is always interesting to hear about their ambitions – many want to be teachers, doctors and nurses, but Gideon is keen to become a pilot - flying all around the world! I love to think that, if I am still around in 20 years, he will fly me to Zambia or back home! It is in order to make such dreams come true that we are supporting this project.
Meeting the routine costs is a major issue for the school. There are never sufficient books and other teaching materials. The provision of food is clearly very important and currently the funds sent specifically for this purpose are insufficient.
It has been possible for the new site to be fenced, though metal posts are needed as the wooden ones are quickly eaten by termites! A strong room has been constructed at the school to enable exams to take place there – this will save the disruption and the extra costs involved in taken students to other schools to sit their exams. It is hoped that approval will be granted for next year.
It is clear that the school provides so much more than just a centre for learning. Voluntary care givers support the school staff to check on children facing particular difficulties, and additional help and counselling is provided. Without the school many of the children would have very little hope, but instead they know there is a chance to be someone – to be able to support themselves and provide a better life for their families. This gives them a sense of value and dignity, so important for all of us, which otherwise most would lack.
This project deserves all the support it can get. I know that every penny is being well spent and can vouch for the difference it is making to the lives of the young students. Thank you for your generosity.