At this time the students are busy with their end of year exams. Those who are in Grade 9 will be working hard to get get good results and hope to find sponsorship to continue with their studies at a local secondary school. Mrs Sianga already supports a number of students in secondary school with support from HANDS AROUND THE WORLD.
The gardening project is progressing well – providing extra food and a little income, but most importantly teaching the children useful skills.
The children at the school are now receiving a small meal each day. This is helping them to concentrate better on their lessons. This is very important and, funding permitting, it will become a long term facility provided at the school. The harvest this year has been very poor and the prices have risen, resulting in more hunger among the school children, so a good meal is particularly valuable. At least at the moment the trees are heavy with mangoes, which provide a readily-available supplement to the diet. But the current rainy season doesn't look good. Very little rain fell until last week when damage from very heavy rain, strong winds and lightning has left additional problems for some families.
Through the generosity of a number of supporters, we were able to provide an extra supply of books a couple of months back. This was desperately needed to give the children direct access to textbooks. The situation is still far from ideal – students still need to share textbooks – but it is a vast improvement on the earlier situation.
We wish the students success in their exams and look forward to the new intake of children in Grade 1 in January.
I am happy to add this letter written by Olden Hamabibi the school Head:
PIZZ School feeding programme has played a pivotal role to our orphans. The foillowing are the many benefits for the children and the administration:
(a) it has improved attendance for the children. (b) it has motivated the children to learn effectively. (c) it has improved the class participation for children. (d) it has enhanced the hope for bright future for orphans. (e) it has acted as a healing power for the broken soul. (f) it has made orphans to feel cared and loved by the world. (g) it has also added joy on their faces in the school.
Thank you very much. PLEASE KEEP ON HELPING THE ORPHANS IN ZAMBIA!"
We have become accustomed to extreme hardship in the world resulting from drought and the antithesis, flooding. In Benin, and in particular in the region of the River Oueme, the issue of the timing of the arrival of the tropical rainstorms is greatly significant. The staple crop of the area, maize, depends on critical irrigation for satisfactory growth, but so also does the capacity for effective construction. The Dogba classrooms were completed to replace three traditionally thatched structures lost to flooding and the newly constructed rooms, in a very remote district across the river was bravely achieved by a determined African team.
Now they are experiencing big natural challenges in the building of the rescue centre for homeless and physically compromised youngsters.
It had been decided that the Centre – Adjidole – would best be situated within a central area of the village for the safety of the children and to give them access to schools and community playing fields. Land for sale was not easy to find and natural water courses needed to be diverted. Now achieved!
A voluntary community support group was formed in Benin, the former mayor, two current headteachers and a recently retired primary head, now the representative for womens welfare have joined forces with the village chief and King Allocheou of Bonou. The immediate Centre team of six represent three faith groups - Methodists, the Church of the Celeste and the village Muslim community.
Guidelines for the day-to-day running of the Centre have been agreed. Admission to Adjidole will be governed by evident need and the Centre will be a non-violent community working towards self-sufficiency.
The construction is now proceeding well (Photo 2).
The tractor - kindly donated in 2012 - is proving to be a real asset. Foundations have been laid, walls constructed and reinforcing bars in place.
The versatility of the tractor is soon to be tested when the machinery for the well construction, recently sent from the UK, arrives in Benin. The winch unit and drilling rig are due at a time to coincide with the arrival of a volunteer team from the UK and France next February.
(Photos 3 and 4)
Shadrack, from the village bakery, known well to previous UK volunteers and now eighteen, is working with the team. The Centre Leader is currently investigating linking with a project in Kenya ‘Baking our way to a sustainable future’ initiated by an Australian charity; Shadrack’s expertise could help to bring this to fruition at Adjidole. This initiative might be attractive to potential sponsors. Your donations would be well received.
Mary, one of the volunteers and an ophthalmologist, recently retired from Hereford Eye Hospital. She will associate with Health Centres of the Bonou region. Depending on financial donations, minor operations will be arranged, hopefully to coincide with the annual visit of the Mercy Ship Anastasia in Cotonou. A donation of $150 would meet the cost of a cataract operation, transport and follow-up for one young person. Can you please help?
It is pleasing to have received letters from two of the orphans supported in this project recently. Djidjoho, in his second year studying Physics and Chemistry at the University, concludes: "Please accept the sincere expression of my deep gratitude."
Alain, currently studying for his Baccalaureate at a post-sixteen college, tells of his struggle since the death in 1999 of his father (who left three wives and fifteen children). With the project's support, Alain gained a Certificate of Primary Studies in 2005 and a Diploma of the First cycle in 2011. He hopes to progress to University in the future.
Here you see representatives of the orphan group of more than one hundred generously assisted with funding, thus enabling them to attend schools, colleges and universities and complete apprenticeships. The project aims to sustain this programme; development of the Adjidole residential centre will extend help to the homeless and meet some of their most pressing needs.
The next challenge for the centre will be to secure funding for furniture, bedding, mosquito nets, chairs, tables and a computer facility.
The Spring 2014 Hands Around The World volunteers will help the African team in planning to meet the challenge.
Many thanks indeed for the help you have given and hopefully may consider giving in the future.
Siriba Vocational Training Centre is now at a crucial crossroads in its development, with a number of key areas to be addressed fully in the coming months.
After 2 years in post, Mike Williams our project co-ordinator has decided to retire from the role – his personality, energy and enthusiasm will be missed. He has tirelessly sought to bring the project on, encouraging the strengthening of the local management, to provide a more secure and sustainable financial future.
One of the effects of this has been to introduce non-formal training of a section of students, leading to an increase in numbers (up to 50) and cost savings. Another effect has been to propose the establishment of a commercial workshop to act as an income-generator for the centre.
A management training programme has now been agreed (principally for the Board of Governors) which will start in the new year and aim to establish a strategic plan for 2014 onwards; a much-respected local secondary head teacher has offered experienced advice and encouragement in a couple of assessment visits.
This week the closing ceremony for the academic year takes place, with students recognised for their attendance record and achievements.
One of our volunteers will be revisiting for the month of February, to help clarify priorities and help with sorting out the ongoing water supply issues, as well as assessing building maintenance needs.
We were delighted recently to receive an award of funds from a Foundation in California to enable the installation of a rain water harvesting system – having almost 1500 people on site each day attending school and VTC, with a minimal water provision due to inadequate boreholes, has been a major problem and a restriction to development. This system has to be carefully planned and built, and we are very concerned to ensure that the funds available are wisely used.
Hopefully there will be lots of positive outcomes to report next time! There are many needy children and huge potential benefit if the progress can be maintained and the work developed. Your support is much needed and appreciated! Thank you.