New Year Brings Hope for Orphans. It is almost seven years since I first stepped foot in Mukuni Village and visited their basic school. It was there that I learnt about the plight of the orphans – almost 50% of the children had lost one or both parents. Since 2006 The Butterfly Tree has assisted thousands of orphaned and vulnerable children in the Mukuni Chiefdom and beyond and sponsored over 500 individual ones in education. With the start of the new school year in Zambia many children will have dropped out of rural schools due to the lack of funds. Education up to grade seven is free, though books and uniform still need to be purchased. After grade seven school fees have to be found – a hard task for families who are living below the poverty line.
With so much poverty in rural villages education is crucial for these needy children. We have provided bore holes, improved health facilities and feeding programs but far too many orphans are struggling to meet the school fees. It cost just £110 ($180) per annum to sponsor an orphan or £10 per month for UK donors. Last year twenty orphans who had completed high school were able to go onto further education thanks to a grant from the BFSS. The majority of them took hotel management or food and beverage courses. Zambia is an up and coming tourist destination and new hotels are being built in the area. More jobs will become available for these students who are now trained in this industry. Two of the first orphans we sponsored have employment as security guards at Stanley Safari Lodge.
For 2013 one challenge is for the schools we support to become more sustainable, another will be to initiate income-generating enterprises for orphans who are unable to seek employment. Our aim is to provide a mentoring scheme, which will involve local employers and businesses. If we can teach these educated orphans how to run a business not only to provide food for their families, but also to produce food for the tourist industry, they can overcome the poverty cycle. At the end of 2012 many of Zambia’s crops were destroyed be army worms. Mukuni and Kamwi villages lost most of their crops and will suffer a food shortage later this year. The Butterfly Tree has donated funds for 100 bags of seeds to help the worse effected families to replant during this peak growing season. All of these families will be supporting orphans; besides giving them an education we have to ensure that the orphans do not to suffer from hunger.
Every hour around 300 people die of AIDS related illnesses, between 30 to 40 of them are children.
Globally there are 34 million people living with HIV and AIDS. Despite significant progress being made sadly last year there were 2.2 million new infections and 1.7 million deaths caused by AIDS related illnesses. Two thirds of those people are living in Commonwealth countries, the majority are in Southern Africa, which includes Zambia.
Education is the key for preventing the spread of HIV, particularly in developing countries such as Zambia. The Butterfly Tree funds a number of initiatives in remote villages. These include workshops to help overcome the stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV and AIDS, to encourage safe sex and to partake in voluntary testing. Knowing your status is paramount. Recently we provided funds for fifteen community based volunteers to attend training courses, in addition we have funded a workshop for defaulters, people who have been receiving treatment and then stopped after feeling well. These people cause a huge threat to the community. We continue to support mothers who are HIV positive, provide care for their infants and offer support to thousands of orphans effected by the pandemic, most especially children infected with HIV.
Every child has a right to education and yet of greater importance every child should have access to basic healthcare. Health is fundamental and when you are working in one of the poorest countries on the planet adequate healthcare is not readily available. We are currently building a clinic at Mahalululu, where people walk 48 kilometres to get to Mukuni Health Centre. Our aim for 2013 is to provide further outreach health posts, to increase our funding for HIV and AIDS and to further promote peer education for HIV prevention within the schools. Zambia may not reach the Millennium Development Goal in 2015, but we are certainly doing our bit to help them.
Over 1000 children, waving a mixture of British and Zambian flags, lined the road leading to Mukuni Basic School to welcome HRH Princess Royal. The excitement reached fever pitch as the cavalcade of cars pulled into the school grounds. The 4×4 bearing the Royal Standard came to a holt and as the Princess stepped out I felt an overwhelming sense of joy as I welcomed her to The Butterfly Tree. Standing close by The Butterfly Tree volunteers were eagerly waiting to meet The Princess, the women looking resplendent in their colourful chytangis, all of them wearing polo shirts adorned with our striking logo.I presented the twenty Zambian volunteers to The Princess along with Emma Soames, a trustee of Saga’s Charitable Trust, who is one of our majar donors and Stain Musungaila, from Sun International. After the introductions I escorted The Princess Royal into a mud hut where I was able to tell her about the charity’s work in Zambia. I was so impressed with her knowledge and her interest, The Princess Royal is renowned for her work with Save the Children and many other charitable causes. After the briefing we proceeded to the Special Education Unit, where The Princess Royal was introduced to sixteen children who are now receiving an education for the first time. This is the only one of its kind in a Zambian village. ‘Good morning, Ma’am’ greeted The Princess Royal after she left the unit and entered a grade nine classroom during a Maths lesson.Before being seated under a tented area The Princess Royal was to receive gifts from Esnat, Angela and Cynthia, the three young girls who inspired the founding fo the charity. Next the rich voices of the Mukuni High School choir followed by the traditional dancers and the beating of the drums entertained The Princess, after which a former recipient of The Butterfly Tree’s orphan sponsorship programme, Mudenda Hazyendo, told a moving story about how the charity had supported him. He had passed to go to university to study law, funds were not avvailable so he had accepted the opportunity to go to teacher’s training college, thanks to funding from one of our donor’s, the BFSS. The Province’s Permanent Sectretary also heard this story and Mundenda is to be offered a place a Lusaka University.
Once the performances were over the Princess RoyaI unvieled a plaque before I escorted her down the sandy track to the Mukuni Health Centre. Here seated on the verandah were several young children who had successfully undergone operations and treatment funded by the charity. I explained the programme and how we had paid for the restoration of the clinic and provided a huge amount of medical supplies and equipment as well as malaria and HIV/AIDS prevention programmes. Finally we proceeded to The Butterfly Tree maternity clinic and women’s shelter, both invaluable additions to a clinic that serves some 7000 people.The time passed far too quickly and as I thanked HRH for visiting the charity her parting words still echo in my ears ‘Working with orphans is difficult but you seem to have got it right‘ – a compliment indeed!
Every year we attract philanthropic travellers and volunteers, who want to make Mukuni Village a part of their itinerary and get involved with the charity’s work. We work closely with local hotels such as Sun International, lodges and international tour operators who direct their tourists to the village and our website. Stanley Safari Lodge and Saga Travel give the charity $5 for every one of their tourists that visits The Butterfly Tree projects. Numerous groups, business incentive trips amongst them Brady Europe and Canon Australia and frequent individuals have enjoyed this experience, donating medical and educational supplies, clothing and monetary gifts. Some have returned to their homelands and started fundraising; their donations have provided bore holes and classrooms and many have wanted to sponsor an orphan.
In addition to visitors who just want to spend a few hours in the village we have been inundated with volunteers from Europe, US, Canada and Asia, staying from a week to several months. Students, nurses, teachers and community workers have provided much needed skills to improve the health and education of these rural people. Most recently Sooji Kim helped with the orphan sponsorship program and four students from Skip Cardiff have set up a literacy project at the school to improve the reading skills. Every year Sydney University provide us with interns to work at Mukuni Health Centre while other volunteers have built community houses and restored classrooms.
You do not have to be as big as Microsoft and Virgin Atlantic to get your company involved in Corporate Social Responsibility and initiatives such as Philanthropic Travel and Volunteering. ‘Corporate social responsibility is about understanding your business’ impact on the wider world and considering how you can use this impact in a positive way. Corporate Social Responsibility can also be good for your bottom line’.
For the past six years we have been involved with a number of corporates who have supported The Butterfly Tree. Cunninghams fund a feeding programme for 350 orphaned and vulnerable children, while Gardiff donated funds to build a pre-school at Mukuni in addition to supporting three teaching staff. One such initiative, which is hugely successful is that of Saga, who support a community based project in every one of their travel destinations, they also challenge their employees to participate in annual fundraising events as well as engaging their travelers.
Last year we were selected out of hundreds of charities working in Africa, by ENRC Marketing, as the one with the best proven record of transparency. They have a huge CSR program with beneficiaries all over the world. After a business incentive trip to Mukuni Village both Brady Italia and Canon Australia have provided continued support to the charity. Other corporates have sponsored some of our fundraising events such as our team participating in Cyclothon UK. You can enter your own cycling team in this challenge for 2012, which takes part at Brands Hatch on 13th September, while raising funds for The Butterfly Tree.
There are several ways to have a Social Corporate Responsibility programme and partner with The Butterfly Tree, it could be with a single donation or an on going project. We involve our donors in decision making so that they can select a project they like and then receive regular feedback. A donation does not necessarily have to come directly from the corporate’s profits, it can be done through engaging their clients, customers and employees. Forming a lasting partnership can be beneficial for all parties concerned. Mukuni Village Incorporated (Australia), Black and White Accounting and Dative Studios each generously sponsor orphans. This lifts their company profile and provides much needed support to vulnerable children such as those in Zambia.
We are seeking corporate sponsorship to build more classrooms, teacher’s houses, bore holes, community houses and for the orphan sponsorship program. Your support could make a huge difference to a local community who need only the essentials in life – WATER FOOD HEALTH and EDUCATION. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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