The majority of The Butterfly Tree's work in Zambia revolves around the welfare of vulnerable chilren, far too many are left orphaned as a result of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Life is rural villages is especially tough for the young - lack of safe water, no electricity, food shortages and disease are just some of the problems they endure on a daily basis. Children have to walk up 10 miles each way to get to school, leaving home at 4am to arrive for the start of lessons at 7am. With little else to do children yearn to seek an education.
Education is vital in helping to alleviate poverty and its related issues. We currently have several educational advancements being made – the construction of a 1×2 classroom block and latrines are almost complete at N’dele Primary School. N’gandu Junior Secondary School is undergoing extensive expansion with the addition of a 1x3 classroom block, two teachers' houses and latrines. Muchambile Village has received a boost adding a much needed clinic and materials for the school. Kasiya Community School has new latrines, essential to improve sanitition and reduce the number of diarrhoeal cases.
HIV is being successfully addressed through our 'Catch me I'm a Butterfly' project. This simple method trains young people to become peer educators in the prevention of HIV. Once the groups have been fully trained they hold workshops in outreach schools on the dangers of HIV. Topics include teenage pregnancies, how to prevent getting HIV, sex education and alcohol problems. The students can talk freely and more openly to the young educators, than they can to parents, teachers or guardians.
Many of the orphans we have supported have now completed high school. We have sponsored a number of them to go on to further education resulting in employment. What is most rewarding is to see the ones being sponsored at teachers' traiining college coming back to the rural schools to partake in work experience. Peter, Charity and Josias are working in the Mukuni Schools, in addition Martin is doing an engineering course and Jacob is studying agriculture. The knowledge they ware gaining will give them the opportunity to eventually support their familes and give something back to their community.
Advancing the education in schools is invaluable for future development of these rural communities who desperately need your support.
In 2006 shortly after I founded The Butterfly Tree I met Peter Liyungu, a Zambian orphan, who had to live in a rural village after losing both his parents. Both Peter and his brother Mishek stayed with their aunt in Mukuni Village. Though the aunt was able to look after the boys she could not afford to edcuate them, and Peter was becoming troublesome.
The Butterfly Tree starting sponsoring Peter's education and the following year Mishek was also included on the Orphan Support Program. At the time there were no rural high schools in the Kazungula District so Peter was offered a chance to go to boarding school. By the time Mishek passed his examinations to attend high school The Butterfly Tree had funded the first rural high school in the Dtirct, of which Mishek was able to attend.
In 2012 Peter completed high school with glowing results, follwed by Mishek two years later. Peter tried to raise funds for a further education course, doing peace work to earn some money. I was so impressed that Peter had made an effort to support himself that through the charity we were able to help him to go to Livingstone Teacher's Training College.
Peter is in his second year at the college and this coming school term, which starts on May 10th, Peter will do his work experience at the very same school he atteneded back in 2006. It is hoped that we can also find a suitable course for Mishek.
It is wonderful to know that these gifted young men have reached so far thanks to generous funding received through our Orphan Support Programs. Thousands of rural children in Zambia are now receiving a sound education, others like Peter are doing teaching, agriculture, and forward and clearing courses. Some are now in employment and able to support their own families and community.
The donations received through the Orphan Support Program can change a child's life and help to alleviate poverty and its related issues.
I have just returned from Zambia after checking on our latest developments and sourcing new projects for 2015. It was wonderful to be back, despite it being the middle of the rainy season I was able to access most of the villages. As always it was extremely rewarding to see so much progress being made.
Thanks to a private donor Muchambile school has undergone vast improvements. The addition of a bore hole, classroom block, teacher’s house, latrines and a school shop has encouraged more children to enrol at school. The Head Teacher has introduced an adult class, as many of the older generation are uneducated. Later this year four parents will be sitting grade seven exams with their children. The donor also funded a health post for this community.
In March 2014 a group visited Nampuyani School after donating a bore hole. Seeing first hand the need for support, the company gave a generous donation to improve the facilities. Two classrooms blocks and a store room have undergone restoration, a teacher’s house has been added along with two double latrines.
A new classroom block for N’dele Primary School is currently being constructed. Development at N’gandu School will shortly commence with the addition of a 1×3 classroom block, two teachers’ houses and four double latrines.
There are many more rural schools that need support. A new roof has been added to a classroom at Manyemuyemu, but this 1937 school needs further funding. Children at Bunsanga Community School are being taught in a mud hut while pupils at River View School are using tents! Reverend Presley Mulenga has recently been posted to River View School after serving as an impressive Head Teacher at Mukuni for the past twelve years. Presley will remain a full member of The Butterfly Tree.
More orphans have been added to our orphan sponsorship programme. A number of school leavers have been successful in seeking employment, some now doing teacher’s practice at our schools and others are volunteering for The Butterfly Tree.
We are making substantial advancements with education in rural areas. With your help we have sponsored several hundred individual orphans, built five new schools, expanded a further twenty schools and added four special education units with a fifth one scheduled for this year. We will endeavour to raise funds to help these vulnerable children – education is the key to alleviating poverty!
The build up to Christmas is truly under way – festive lights illuminating the high streets, TV and radio media advertising the latest computer games and supermarket crammed with treats. With so much turmoil happening around the globe, the raging wars, the natural disasters and the Ebola crisis, to mention but a few, it’s hard to get enthusiastic about Christmas. The unwanted gifts, the over indulgence, the unnecessary stress it all creates is it really worth it? There are so many good causes that need supporting and this is the perfect time for giving.
A recent quote from one of our orphan sponsors sums it up: ‘With all the excess involved in Christmas and even everyday spending on silly things, it is genuinely a delight to give money to people who really need it.’
This month The Butterfly Tree has received some amazing donations and grants. The money will be used to build a 1×2 classroom block and latrines for Ndele Primary School and a health post at Muchimbale. Mukuni Special Education class will get additional meterials and stationery to help the children with learning difficulties.
Children wih special needs really do struggle, there are no facilities in rural villages. In addition to the one at Mukuni The Butterfly Tree has added three further units at Riverview, Katapazi and Simango Schools. By attaching an extra classroom solely for this purpose the Ministry of Education has provided skilled teachers. Children with Down's Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and interlectual impairment are now receiving a basic education.
As always orphans are at the forefront of our work. It is imperitave that they receive a sound education to help them to improve their situation in life. Your support has helped us to reach out to thousands of orphaned an vulnerable children in Zambia.
The Butterfly Tree has come a long way since 2006, gaining a sound reputation for transparency, attracting a global following, as well as continuing to be run by a team of dedicated and hard-working volunteers. After recently spending three weeks in Zambia there is so much to report, so many stories to tell and many people to thank.
The start of the trip was spent hosting a Commissioner from our major donor organisation, For three days we revisited schools that have been developed for orphans and vulnerable children. These included Kamwi, Ndele, Mukuni, Machenje, Matengu and Silelo schools, and ended with a visit to the newly opened clinic at Mahalulu. The Commissioner saw first-hand how far we have reached, the challenges we face and met our wonderful team of volunteers.
Further development is taking place at Nampuyani school, where a new borehole and latrines have been added and the classrooms have been restored. Previously the only source of water was collected from bacteria infected shallow wells. The three hour drive to Nampuyani was tough, driving across river beds and a little too close for comfort to bush fires! However the joy of seeing children pumping safe clean water, was both humbling and overwhelming, and well worth the effort.
Muchimbale School, also in the Nyawa Chiefdom, underwent extensive development in 2013. Now thanks to further funding a health post is to be added to reduce the distance that this community has to walk to seek medical attention. Moving on the Musokotwane Chiefdom Simango School, with some 750 pupils, has the addition of a Special Education unit. In all these schools there is a high percentage of orphans.
As always I was given a substantial amount of items to distribute, which included medical supplies, knitted items and football jerseys, complete with 15 footballs. In addition we received 130 t-shirts impregnated with mosquito nets from Portugal. These are to be given to a remote community where there is a high prevalence of malaria and also to our Zambia volunteers. We are continuing our campaign to help the fight against malaria and to prevent further new cases in these rural villages.
We are currently sponsoring over 350 individual orphans as well as helping thousandes more with their education. It was wonderful to see that some of the ones we started sponsoring in 2006 are about to sit their grade 12 exams, after which they will complete their high school education.
Thank you to everyone for all your support – without you, none of this could have happened!
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