The following is an e-postcard from Kai Iizuka, a GlobalGiving Representative in Zambia.
At the PIZZ School, I was greeted by a sea of happy faces eager to show their visiting guests things that they had been working on. Many of the children are orphans from the neighboring compounds who would otherwise not be attending school, but thanks to the good work of Hands Around the World, the head teacher Mrs. Sianga and her staff of twelve teachers, they are able to receive an education that keeps them off the streets. Though the school faces numerous challenges, such as the lack of classrooms and furniture, as well as no running water, the staff is all making sacrifices, such as providing their own materials from home, to ensure that the children are able to learn. There is even a small garden plot maintained by the students under the supervision of staff that help to teach life skills as well as generate a bit of income for the school.
As I sat in front of the assembled mass of all three hundred or more students, groups came up one by one to showcase their many talents. A group of 6th grade girls sang a song about AIDS and HIV, another group showed us a traditional Zambian dance, and the one that seemed to generate the most laughter from the crowd was a play from the boys of the drama club. This act in particular was so full of life and energy, you couldn’t help but laugh at the comedic actions of the various cast as they told the story of two young students getting in trouble for not attending school and instead mistakenly stealing a sick man’s food and medicine.
There seems to be no lack of ambition in the Kayangile project, and they do have everything planned out, just needing that initial fund to get the ball rolling.
There are numerous plans for the project especially in the agricultural section. Though they are currently only growing a few crops, rearing chicken and cattle, there are plans in the works for a fish pond to teach students how to care for and rear fish. The area had already been dug out, but when I went there, it was serving as a holding for calves. Nearby, there were trenches dug for the piggery that they were planning to build and in a nearby field they were beginning to plant orange trees. I was told that these orange trees were going to supplement a beekeeping project that they had planned, as honey tastes best when produced from the nectar of citrus fruits. The tailoring classes were also churning out beekeeping suits in preparation for this.
During my visit, I was given the honour of planting an orange tree, starting by digging the hole, planting the sapling, and finally watering the plant. I made sure to remember where exactly I had planted the tree for future reference or it would be difficult to point it out from the forty that they were planning to plant. It was a lot of good fun, and I hope to one day come back to the project to see how my tree is doing. If all goes to plan, by then, there should be a grove of orange trees sheltering a number of bee hives being maintained and cared for by the new beekeeping students.
It was a delight to be able to spend some time at PIZZ School last month. I was impressed by the lively children I met and the dedication of the staff.
I had a chance to talk to the teachers and to a number of the students. I have been visiting for many years now so many of the students recognise me and I am getting to know a few familiar faces. It was coming to the end of their winter and the weather was quite varied. There were long periods when I experienced cloudless skies and then a few windy and overcast days would follow. Despite being winter, the temperature rarely failed to reach 20°C during the day – though at night it sometimes fell below 10°C – which is cold if you have no heating (and possibly no blanket).
The children are working hard on the garden watering and planting crops. The tomatoes have done well and some were sold to provide extra funds – the children who helped were treated to some sweet potatoes. While I was in Zambia another 1,500 tomato plants were transplanted. The income will buy pens and notebooks for the students that cannot afford to buy them. The garden is also important in teaching important life skills to the students. In Zambia most poor families need to supplement any small income they might get by growing their own food.
Along with Kai – our visitor from Global Giving – I was treated to a selection of sketches, songs and poems from the students. I was impressed by how confidently the children performed. This demonstrated just how far these children had progressed.
The school started as a single classroom. Now some of the children have left PIZZ school and are about to graduate from local Secondary Schools. It was a common cry from the children that we should try to find them funds to complete their studies – even after leaving PIZZ school. Fortunately Mrs. Sianga has managed to pay the Secondary School fees for some of the children, with help from Hands Around the World and your donations. One student who expects to do very well in her exams wants to become a doctor – we will try to help her to go to medical school. I was also delighted to hear of another student who has taken a different route and is making a living as a professional musician.
It is clear that lives are being changed through this project and with your help we will continue to improve the lives of the children of Monze.
Thank you for your help.