In September Chikumbuso applied for a grant from a US Library group hoping to get several new projects off the ground. We envisioned the library as a resource, not just for our students and staff, but also as an opportunity to reach out to the Ng’ombe community.
We haven’t heard back on our grant yet, but our dreams are slowly but surely becoming a reality. Through a connection with a large NGO, iConnect, a local internet provider, donated free air time to Chikumbuso. This has enabled us to have a bar-coded check out system for our library. We also have two computers – one for the library and one for administrative work. Finet, our librarian, has been working on her computer skills while setting up the library system.
In December, we were fortunate to have the Bush Family come and visit Chikumbuso. It was great to see Laura Bush (a librarian herself) in our library.
Next week, through the help of generous donors, we’ll be receiving additional computers for our library. A friend will be coming with the computers to do some classes and a local computer specialist will also be volunteering to “Train the Trainers” so Chikumbuso can begin teaching computer skills to our students and staff.
It never ceases to amaze me how vision can become a reality – often through unexpected sources. Thank you all, again, for your help with our library. It really is making a difference – it’s working, pongono, pongono, or bit by bit.
Violet is one of our grandmothers. She joined Chikumbuso's grandmother project in 2009. Violet's husband died eight years ago, shortly after he retired from his work at the University of Zambia. Violet herself used to sell cooking oil and other items at the local market while her husband was at work. They had 10 children together, but only two are still alive today. Both children live in Ng’ombe, as Violet, but they do not come to see her very often. In total Violet has 18 grandchildren. The four who live with her are from one of her children who passed away. She lives in a two-room house without electricity supporting her four grandchildren. The rains are beginning again, the weather cooling, and the fuel efficient stoves make a big difference not just in cooking, but also in warming their small house.
Oliver is one of the young men that is sponsored through Chikumbuso to attend the local secondary school. Oliver is completing this year. He met me yesterday with a letter for his sponsor; he's great about keeping in touch. Writing letters is one of the ways we help our students in the early grades use and learn English skills. English is the official language of Zambia, but there are 72 different local languages as well. Many Zambians speak several of these alongside English. But for those in poor economic situations where education levels within the family are low - it's likely that English will always seem foreign. For our students, the opportunity to communicate by letter in the official language prepares them for higher education and for life. They will be able to understand official documents when they vote, purchase property, have any sort of dealing with the government or employers. Sponsorship makes a huge difference!