In Zambia a high percentage of children are orphans as a result of the HIV and AIDS pandemic. Since 2006 The Butterfly Tree has offered support to orphans and vulnerable children in twenty five schools in the Southern Province. Five of these schools were built from scratch, others have been expanded, some now have pre-schools and four schools have new special education units.
The hardships these rural children have to endure on a daily basis are numerous – lack of safe drinking water and shortage of food, hours of walking to school in the baking sun, the risk of contracting malaria and HIV, and no clinic within a thirty mile radius. How do they cope? They live for each day and hope for a better future. Education is the key to overcoming poverty and its related issues. By advancing these rural schools The Butterfly Tree has given hope to thousands of orphaned and vulnerable children.
In the past twelve months we have completed education projects in Mukuni, Musokotwane and Nyawe Chiefdoms. Simango, River View and Katapazi schools have each gained a special education unit. Muchimbale, Chuunga and soon to be completed Nampuyani, have all had extra classrooms, teacher’s house and latrines, and three more schools have boreholes.
Many parents of these rural children are illiterate. Education not only provides an opportunity to seek employment, it teaches children about the dangers of HIV and malaria prevention. A substantial number of orphans, who we started sponsoring back in 2006, are currently receiving further education or engaged in work. They now have a purpose in life and a chance to help their families and communities. The Butterfly Tree is committed to continuing this vital support, most especially for orphans.
No project is more essential than that to improve access to safe water in remote schools and communities. It is heart-breaking to see children drinking from bacteria-infested streams and rivers, especially when the rivers are teaming with crocodiles.
A third of Zambians do not have access to safe water, thousands of people walk several miles daily to fetch water, much of it unclean. Contaminated water is a leading cause of diarrhoeal disease in Zambia, Schistosomiasis, (also known as Balharzia) and Rotavirus are common and can be fatal in infants.
Annually, there are an estimated 10.5 million cases of diarrhoea, 63,000 hospitalisations and 15,000 deaths attributed to the disease in children under-five in Zambia. The Butterfly Tree’s aim is to source communities in Zambia desperately in need of bore holes and find schools with insufficient sanitation.
Recently I visited Nampuyani School, in the Nyawe Chiefdom, where children were drinking unsafe water from shallow wells. During the rainy season, November to April, the pupils dug these wells to collect water for storage during the dry season. By May one of the two wells was already dry. These wells are being used by animals at night, further polluting the water.
Lack of sanitation is another huge issue, more than fifty per cent of Zambians do not have sanitation facilities. Schools can be closed down by the government if there are insufficient latrines, diarrhoeal diseases are common amongst pupils.
The Butterfly Tree has added eleven bore holes to schools throughout the Chiefdoms of Mukuni, Sikute, Musokotwane and Nyawe in the Southern Province of Zambia. Adding a bore hole not only gives the pupils access to safe drinking water, but also helps them to have a sustainable feeding programs. Most of the children at these schools are orphaned and vulnerable so feeding programs are essential.
In addition the charity has constructed over forty latrines in schools, which has considerably helped to reduce the diarrhoeal diseases, resulting in less absenteeism. The children are taught basic hygiene.
Next month three volunteers from Enactus, a student-run company based at the University of Sheffield will volunteer for The Butterfly Tee. Their intention is to improve the water facility at Ng’andu Basic School and help to initiate a soap-making project as part of our Ecotourism plan, to create a sustainable enterprise for school leavers. An American family will also volunteer in July and have kindly raised funds for a bore hole.
We are grateful for all the support we have received from our donors, which has enbabled us to provide safe drinking water for so many schools and expand our water projects in Zambia.
The Butterfly Tree has been given a licence to import two safe new malaria prevention products which could potentially save the lives of thousands of children in Zambia. The products Mozzimort and Larvamort, produced by Biotech International can not only help to prevent malaria, but also river blindness Onchocerciasis, also known as Robles disease, which is caused by a black fly. One in ten people suffer from this condition in the Northern and Western Provinces of Zambia and up until now there have been no preventative methods available.
This project dominated my three weeks in Zambia. With the assistance of Stain Musungaila, a local volunteer for The Butterfly Tree and his invaluable contacts, we presented the data to the Ministry of Health’s Enviormental Agency, the Food and Drugs Department and the Malaria Control Board. The products have been approved and we are being granted licencing for the importation, storage, transport and distribution, which will last for three years.
Sadly there has been a huge increase in the number of new cases of malaria in the region. Mukuni Chiefdom alone has reported over 200 new cases, in the past three years the number has been less than five. This has been caused by a number of factors – lack of insecticidal spraying, insufficient mosquito nets and prolonged heavy rains. Other clincis in the Kazungula District have reported a simular picture, which has created a great deal of concern. Our aim is to get these new products rolling before the onset of rains in November.
With all the excitement created with the malaria prevention project I still had time to visit many other of our projects, most importantly that of water and sanitiation. Accompnied by James Baldwin and Peter Marsh, two civil engineers, we addressed the situation. To date we have installed some fifteen bore holes in rural schools and villages, but there are many more areas of need, one of those being Nampuyani where school children are drinking our of shallow wells shared by domestic animals. This causes diarrhoal disease, therefore we intend to add a bore hole and VIP latrines for the school.
During my stay I had the pleasure of meeting the Larsgard family from Norway, who have been supporting our orphan sponsorship program for the past five years. They came to Mukuni Village and were introduced to seven of the ten orphans they are sponsoring. As always the sponsor an orphan program plays a vital roll in our work to create sustainable futures for the communities. Some three hundred individual children are currently being sponsored and five students are partaking in further education. We are introducing a workshop to teach skills for those for are unable to seek employment.
On the 7th and 8th May William Anderson and twelve of his former school friends, celebrating their 50th birthday year, spent two days volunteering for The Butterfly Tree. They had raised funds to built four community houses for widows looking after orphans. In addition they played sport with the children and donated educational supplies and clothing and mentored grade 12 pupils and schools leavers.
As always it was both a rewarding and humbling experience visiting the many schools and villages we support. Once the new malaria prevention project takes off we aim to reach out to thousands more communites to prevent the dehabilitating malaria and Roble diseases.
2014 has brought hope for thousnads of orphaned and vulnerable rural children in the Southern Province of Zambia. We are now reaching out to twenty six schools in four Chiefdoms, spanning a radius of 200 kilometres from our base at Mukuni Village. Over ten thousand children have access to advanced education and many more have access to improved water and health facilities.
The latest development is taking place at Muchimbale Community School, in the Nyawa Chiefdom, thanks to a generous donor. The school is very remote and has little support from the outside world. Last year The Butterfly Tree installed a bore hole and latrines, completed a teacher’s house and initiated a feeding programme. This year a further donation will enable us to restore an old classroom, purchase books and equipment and introduce a sustainable income-generating activity at the school.
Further progress can be seen at Katapazi Basic School with the opening of a special education unit, another one is currently being constructed at Simango Basic School in the Musokotwane Chiefdom, making four in total. Rural children in Zambia, with special needs, have no access to education. Chunga Community School classroom will shortly be completed and our aim is to also build a second classroom at Ndele Community School.
In addition some 400 individual orphans are receiving sponsorhip and three students are currently attedning training colleges in Livingstone
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!
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