The Butterfly Tree is having great success with our education projects at Mukuni. Latest reports show that virtually all grade seven and nine pupils, many of which are on our orphan sponsorship program, have passed their exams. Mukuni Basic School received the best result for the Kazungula District. Our supporters must take some of the credit for this due to the increase in text books donated to classes where previously one text book had to be shared between forty pupils. In addition a number of volunteers,have extra tuition to grade seven and nine pupils prior to their exams. A generous offer from another will provide the schools with further reading material.
Despite our efforts to support the universal fight against malaria more needs to be done to overcome this destructive disease. Malaria is the biggest killer of man. According to the World Health Organisation an estimated 3.4 billion people are at risk on malaria, of which 1.2 billion are at high risk. 90% of all malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, which of course includes Zambia. We provide mosquito nets to children in remote villages.
This year we aim to increase our malaria prevention support, further expand our peer education project for HIV Prevention and open more special education units for children who are unable to attend school. As always we are very grateful for your support and hope that we can encourage more donors and volunteers to join The Butterfly Tree. Our entire team in both the UK and Zambia still consists of volunteers, most of them have been with us since 2006!
Christmas is almost upon us and thanks to the tremendous support from our donors, fundraisers and volunteers around the globe many rural children in Zambia have a better future ahead of them.
December has been an incredibly good month for fundraising, most especially thanks to The Big Give Christmas Challenge, when we raised £15,000 (US$25,000) in pledges and donations, which will be be doubled through their Charity Champion Fund and The Reed Foundation. In addition we received donations from the US, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Germany, France, Ireland and Switzerland and of course the UK, showing how The Butterfly Tree has attracted donors from all over the world.
We now have funds in place for hundreds more mosquito nets for our malaria prevention program, a teacher’s house, classrooms, seeds for school gardens. stationery for schools and over twenty new orphans added to our orphan sponsorship programme. Providing the essentials in life is what these communities most need to enable them to have a healthier and happier life.
The Butterfly Tree team would like to thank everyone who has helped us reach out to thousands and orphaned children in the Southern Province of Zambia. Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
All the work of The Butterfly Tree is aimed at improving the lives of vulnerable and orphaned children. Since the charity started we have helped thousands of children in remote villages but many more are suffering as a result of the HIV and AIDS pandemic, poverty and malaria.
Joshua was so young when he lost his parents that he cannot remember them. Sent to Mukuni from the Western Province Joshua lives with his grandmother who struggled to pay his schools fees. For the past few years Joshua has been on the orphan sponsorship programme and is presently sitting grade nine exams for entry to Mukuni High School. Though Joshua is not highly academic he has excelled in music and leads the Mukuni Basic Choir as a skilled singer, songwriter and conductor. Providing these orphans with an education gives them hope for a better future.
Currently volunteering in Zambia to help with the orphans are Emma and Jess, who recently completed a 50 kilometres sponsored walk from Mukuni to Zwanga Village and back. This is a route that children walk daily to receive an education. Doing this challenging walk in the Zambian heat Emma and Jess have raised substantial funds for our projects.
One of our main volunteers, Mutsa , recently arrived in Zambia to continue her ‘Catch me I’m a Butterfly Tree” project which provides peer education for HIV prevention - an invaluable part of our work with orphans. In addition Mutsa will be holding sex education workshops in an attempt to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies.
I recently returned home after another rewarding visit to Zambia. It is hard to believe the progress we have made. What started off as helping a handful of orphans has now expanded to over twenty schools, seven clinics and more than 100 villages in four Chiefdoms, throughout the Southern Province of Zambia. The distance we are covering is a radius of 200 kilometres from base and thousands more orphaned and vulnerable children are receiving a sound education, improved healthcare and drinking safe, clean water.
Bore holes have been installed at Kauwe and Muchimbala schools with a third one about to be completed at Kanimbwa. Not only do the pupils have access to safe drinking water, but the bore holes will be used to irrigate crops for much needed feeding programmes. I was horrified to learn that some of the food, provided by theWorld Food Programme, is rotten by the time it reaches the schools.
One Head teacher reported that this year the food provision had been delivered for term one, the second term the maize was stale and the beans were mouldy. When the Head complained he was told by the distributors ‘beggars cannot be choosers – they can eat it!’ Nothing was received for term three. It is heartbreaking, knowing that young school children have no food during the day. Many of them leaving home as early as 4am to return twelve hours later, on any empty stomach. Next month we will increase the number of donated seeds to support this project.
As the rainy season approaches so does the increased risk of contracting malaria. Though prevalent all year, malaria cases increase between November and March. I spent two days distributing mosquito nets to outreach communities. Due to the remoteness of these villages the government do not spray the mud huts putting the people at great risk. Our malaria prevention programmed is vital. Since January no new cases of malaria have been reported in under fives and zero deaths caused by malaria.
While I was in Zambia I was invited by Sky News to give a ‘live’ interview on the much anticipated malaria vaccination, which could be available as soon as 2015. Glaxo,SmithKline has developed the first ever vaccine and I was asked to comment on how effective this could be for our malaria prevention programme.
Malaria remains the biggest killer of man. Every year around 660,000 people, mostly children under the age of five in sub-Sahara Africa, die from this mosquito-borne parasitic disease.
On another serious matter sadly the HIV and AIDS statistics remain far too high, at 27%, in the Mukuni and Livingstone areas. We are continuing our support for children with HIV, increasing our funding for workshops, specifically targeting school children. Mutsa Marau, our HIV prevention coordinator, will return to Zambia next month to offer peer education for HIV prevention. As always I was presented with a long list of orphans who need help. Our sponsor an orphan programme has supported hundreds of individual children in education.
It is difficult to comprehend the scale of the decimation caused by the HIV and AIDS pandemic in Zambia. With a population of barely more than 14 million the nation has over 700,000 orphans, primarily as a result of HIV and AIDS. Virtually all of the Butterfly Tree’s work revolves around the orphans and we strive to give them hope for a better future. Our aim is to provide a sound, basic education for as many rural children as funds permit. It is not possible for every child to be accepted on our orphan sponsorship program as there are so many, but we can help in other ways by improving the education facilities in these remote schools and helping them to generate sustainability.
Creating global awareness is paramount - the poverty levels are extreme. Under normal circumstances Zambian families can support themselves by living a simple lifestyle, but when they have the addition of several orphans to feed and educate they are pushed below the poverty line. Two thirds of the entire nation lives on less than £1 ($1.5) per day. Our aim is to develop sustainability in rural schools and communities so that every orphan has a chance to be educated.
We have many people helping us to achieve this through fundraising, sponsorship and volunteering. Last month we welcomed Thomas Mills High School, whose pupils raised funds to build a sustainable school shop at Mukuni Basic School. Camping out in the classrooms, two groups totalling thirty pupils form this school in Suffolk set about building the facility, which will be used to make and sell uniforms as well as school supplies. Students helped in the classrooms, with activities and on the sports ground.
While it is essential for these vulnerable children to complete their education it is not always possible to seek employment once they leave school. Mukuni Village is close to the mighty Victoria Falls, a major tourist destination, but there are not enough jobs for everyone and unemployment is high. To take advantage of the surroundings and the abundance of visitors to the area we are initiating an Ecotourism project. In July I visited Zambia with Jonathan Sedo, an Ecotourism consultant from Costa Rica, who is submitting a project plan to The Butterfly Tree. Emma Kennedy, an International Development student will assist with the initial stages of the project. This is a great opportunity for Mukuni orphans and school leavers to be involved income-generating enterprise
The orphan sponsorship program has been running since 2006, many of the children have reached high school - some have already completed school whilst others are just starting. We have extended the program to help children in the following schools: Mukuni, N’gandu, Kamwi, Siamasimbi and Ndele and many more need help.
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