The Butterfly Tree

The Butterfly Tree's aim is to improve the lives of vulnerable people living in remote villages in Zambia. To advance the education and improve the facilities in rural schools, giving every child a chance to be educated. To protect the health of patients by developing the rural clinics offering support sevices, medical supplies and equipment. To relieve poverty and improve the living conditions of socially disadvantaged communities teaching them how to become sustainable.
Jul 15, 2013

Food for the Family

School girls from outreach villages stay at Mukuni
School girls from outreach villages stay at Mukuni

Life for many girls and women in Zambia is tough, most especially in rural villages where the poverty levels are extreme. More challenging is the high prevalence of HIV, with one in six adults being infected with the virus. Tradtionally women have children during their teens but early pregnancies can result in complications. The Butterfly Tree holds workshops for school girls and women to teach them about the dangers of HIV and teenage pregnancies.

'Educate a woman and she will educate the entire family'.

One of the main problems is the lack of funds for girls to be educated. If women can be empowered they are more likely to obtain employment. If the family is living below the poverty line it is difficult to feed them, especially if the woman aislooking after orphans. It is quite common to see a widow or elderly grandmother looking after six orphans. By donating seeds girls and women can grow sufficient food for the family and use the profits to pay for schooling and vocational courses.

The area where we work is close to the Victoria Falls and has a wealth of tourist attractions besides many hotels and lodges. These women, especially if they have manaed to completed a ffod and beverage course, can take their projects a step further and supply the hotel industry with local vegetables, which are constantly in demand. All that is needed is a donation for seeds and fertilizer - the women and girls will do the rest!  

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Jun 5, 2013

Welfare of the Orphans

An orphan who receives medical treatment
An orphan who receives medical treatment

One of the most difficult decisions I have to make when I am in Zambia is to prioritise when it comes to funding treatment for sick children. Such is the demand that it is impossible to help every one of them. Over the years the charity has assisted as many children as possible, some through the under fives’ feeding program, other more serious cases with operations and medical treatment. The number of beneficiaries has increased in the past two years thanks to regular donations from Brady Italia.

The rural Health Centres we support at Mukuni, Katapazi and Nsongwe deal with general practice. The clinical workers examine patients suffering from common colds to full blown diseases such malaria, TB and HIV and AIDS. Most households cannot afford to keep a paracetamol or bandage at hand. The clinical staff are well trained but facilities and medical supplies are basic. The Butterfly Tree supports a number of health projects at Mukuni, which include helping sick and under-nourished children. It is heartbreaking to learn that children have been waiting several years to have a spleen or bladder operation or in need of physiotherapy. In addition we provide support for orphaned babies and an under-fives’ feeding program.

The nearest hospital to these clinics is Livingstone, some 16 kilometres from Mukuni Village, which has a new paediatric ward. The surgical ward in the general hospital is where I have taken a number of young children to seek further examinations. One such case was a little boy who had a swelling on his eye, thought to be a tumour. The doctor told me that he would have to perform a biopsy. I was horrified to learn that the results can take between three to six months as there is only one pathology laboratory in the entire nation with a population of 13 million. Fortunately for Jordan his eye swelling was caused by a piece of wire embedded in his eyelid and not a tumour as first thought.

Most families have no money for transport to get to hospital, the charity provides these funds whenever possible. Even more challenging is when a patient is referred to Lusaka Hospital, which is over 500 kilometres from Livingstone. Currently we are funding five children for on going treatment and seven infants who are orphaned or under weight. Global Partners for Health has generously supported this program. In addition we provide funds for malaria and HIV and AIDS prevention.  

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Apr 5, 2013

March 2013 Newsletter

Two young orphans cared for by their grandfather
Two young orphans cared for by their grandfather

I have just returned from a rewarding yet very challenging trip to Zambia. After three weeks enjoying temperatures reaching over thirty degrees, it was a shock to come back to the UK to snow and below zero temperatures. As always there are many projects I to check on and new ones to initiate.

Education is foremost in making progress, but more importantly health concerns have to be dealt with. A number of children had to be referred to hospital suffering with various conditions ranging from Cerebral Palsy to stomach ulcers; some had waited for many weeks due to not having transport money to reach Livingstone. In addition there were several babies who needed support.

During my first week in Mukuni a woman had walked for three hours from Ndele to ask for my help. Last year a fifteen year old school girl had fallen pregnant in her village. During the girl’s pregnancy her mother, who she lived with, sadly passed away. Some months later the girl herself tragically died in childbirth. For the past two months the guardian had to beg for contributions from the community, so that she could buy the costly formula and care for this helpless infant. It was heartbreaking to see this beautiful baby orphaned at such a delicate age and it was agreed that the charity would support her.

The rainy season in Zambia ends in March. Unfortunately the rains, which started in October, have been intermittent – either too heavy or insufficient. This means that the crops will yield only around 30 – 40% of what is normally expected. This will result in a great deal of hunger, if not famine, amongst the rural communities that depend on maize as their staple food. I came across many hungry children living on just one meal a day, some of them walking for three hours to get to school.

Thanks to donations from an existing supporter and some generous tourists I met during my stay, we were able to distribute bags of ‘mealie meal’ (ground maize) to vulnerable families in both Mukuni and Kamwi Villages.

Despite all the hardships it was great to see all the progress. A boarder’s shelter and five new community houses have been completed, two of them to house young widows each with several children. Sibbulo Village has an entire new school and bore hole. Over 2000 mosquito nets have been distributed in the Mukuni and Sekute Chiefdoms.

A clinic, which comprises of a maternity unit, women’s shelter, three staff houses, latrines and a bore hole will be opening in May. This will help people who are currently walking over thirty kilometres to seek healthcare and treatment.

As always there are many more orphans seeking sponsorship. Some children are returned to the villages from townships when their parents pass away. It is really tough for these children and also for their grandparents who become their sole guardians. I met one elderly man whose daughter and son-in-law had died as a result of AIDS related illnesses. His grandchildren had been brought to him from Sesheke, some two hundred kilometres from Mukuni. A neighbour had kindly offered him his mud hut as the old man did not have suitable accommodation. We will soon provide a house for this family along with support for the children.

These are the really vulnerable people who desperately need funding. Working at grass root level, we can identify the real need and ensure that all donations go directly to the cause, without deducting costly administration and personal fees.

We have had tremendous support from our donors, fundraisers and volunteers. Please continue to help us to reach out to more vulnerable children in these remote villages of Zambia.

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