Celebrations are an important part of life in Zambia, as they are throughout the world. This year, thanks to a small donation from one of the HANDS AROUND THE WORLD sponsors, the school was able to enjoy a special party to mark World Youth Day. 240 of the students attended this event which was marked with lots of singing, dancing, drumming and reciting poetry.
Most of the children have lost one or more parents - largely as a result of AIDS - and the children use these occasions to express some of the difficulties in their lives, as well as giving thanks for the opportunities given them through the education they receive at the school. At the end of the day the children enjoyed a good meal.
The rainy season has now finished – a bit too early in fact. Combined with flooding early in the year, this could mean a poor harvest and food shortages later in the year – these conditions have particularly affected the Southern Province, in which PIZZ school is situated.. At the school they have been able to grow good crops of okra and tomatoes, but the sweet potatoes and maize crops have failed due to lack of rain.
In addition to the academic studies at the school, Mrs. Sianga is keen to try to address some of the problems that her students encounter. This pastoral care for the students is a very important part of the ethos of the school, and it is important for the development of the students. Fortunately the school has a number of care workers who help, mainly on a voluntary basis.
The school has excellent staff who work hard, with limited resources, to give the students a chance in life. Many of these struggle on very low wages which are barely enough to provide food and accommodation. (PIZZ receives no funding from the government). The school would collapse without their dedication.
Most importantly the students are very well motivate and are thriving - those who have moved into secondary school are doing very well. Education is for many the key to escaping their lives of poverty, with your help someare beginning to achieve that dream.
The new school year is about to begin. In Zambia they are in the middle of the Rainy Season and these days the weather is unpredictable. As in many parts of the world, now the rain, when it comes, is heavier and more persistent than usual. As yet the flooding around Monze is under control although the rain has been very heavy, however more will fall between now and the end of March.
This year the children have planted some crops within the school grounds and are hoping that the rain will provide them with a good harvest. This was possible because, with the help of our supporters, the school is now fenced to prevent animals from eating the produce. The skills learnt in growing food are valuable for the students. In Zambia most families need to provide some of their own food in order to survive on an average of less than £1 a day.
The examination results are now out and twelve grade 7 pupils have passed enabling them to progress with a Basic Education. Three children have qualified to go on to High School. These results are very good in the light of the lack of textbooks. My experience in September made me realise just how much more difficult it is to teach children who cannot follow the lesson with a book.
Mrs. Sianga is keen to give the children as wide an education as possible. Towards the end of the dry season she was able to take the grade 8 and 9 students to Lochinvar which is a national park about 40 km from Monze. (Most students contributed something towards the costs). For most of the children this was a completely new experience. The park is known for the wide variety of birds including Fish Eagles, Malibu Storks and Secretary Birds. It also has a variety of animals including, Buffalo, Zebra and Wildebeest as well as a variety of antelope – the Kafue Lechwe which is unique to this area. Needless to say the children had a wonderful and very memorable day out.
When I meet with the teachers at the school the major concern is the limited teaching materials – particularly textbooks. I hope that during this year we will be able to report a substantial improvement in this situation.
With your help many children are gaining a valuable education and being provided with opportunities to improve their lives. Thank You.
Today I had a wonderful time back at school! I attended classes from grade1 to grade 7 at PIZZ school with the sole exception of grade 3 where a new teacher is awaited.
I was very impressed by the way in which the lessons were conducted. The limited number of textbooks means that much of the work is done using the traditional blackboard and chalk. The children are very attentive and are enthusiastic. I was surprised how much of the lesson for the grade 1 students was in English. I don't know how I would cope if I had to learn my lessons in a foreign language. Even after spending more than 2 years in Zambia my Chitonga is negligible – to my great shame..
The grade 1 students were learning about shapes as part of the mathematics curriculum. I was impressed by the way the teacher praised and encouraged the children. These children come from very disadvantaged backgrounds and most are unlikely to have had any previous exposure to English. I felt privileged to be part of a project which gives them the possibility to move away from a life of poverty. It is also a huge responsibility. These children need our support so that they are not given a false hope.
In grade 2 they were talking about birthdays when I joined them. I shared that my daughter has her birthday today, so they each drew a birthday card for Barby in their notebooks.
In grade 4 the class was also doing maths. They were learning how to calculate the cost of common items of shopping – I now know why everyone here has no problem calculating my bill and providing change. (Unlike my experience in the UK where the cashiers seem to rely totally on the till.)
In grade 5 they were being taught English, concentrating on proper nouns, and in grade 6 the subject was science - the topic evaporation and condensation. Here a small experiment was done with with a kettle and bottle of cold water.
My final class was grade 7. This is the first stage were an examination is taken to determine whether the child progresses to the next grade. These students sit their exams at the end of the month and were doing revision with the teacher. A girl read a story from a textbook about a university student who had been ill and had just tested HIV+. Of course for many their situation has come about because of the disease, but the subject is not kept hidden in Zambia. I was welcomed by the children reciting poems and at the end of the lesson some of the students introduced themselves. Most were being brought up by their grandmothers and three of them said that they had lost both parents by the age of 8 or 9. Unfortunately this is a very common story among these children.
Being with the children and teachers brought home to me just how important this project is for the future of so many. It is being among them and glimpsing some of their potential that brings the project to life for me.
Funding is always a problem when the students cannot afford to pay fees. The past year has been difficult and yet my experience today showed me that, despite limited resources, wonderful things are happening.
The children ended by pleading for continued support and I am sure you will continue to be generous.
Mrs Sianga writes:
"The school opened on 2nd January 2012 for the first term and 30th April for the second term. When the school opened in January, we had 214 pupils altogether both lower and upper basic; we also have seven teachers and one general worker at the old school and five upper basic teachers with two general workers respectively.
Currently, the school is sponsoring 5 children who are in high schools, two are at Namwala secondary school and the other three at Monze Secondary School.”
Most of these 219 children would be receiving no education without PIZZ School, where they are accepted despite not being able to pay any fees.
Last year a fence was erected around the school and this has allowed 150 trees to be planted within the grounds. This has improved the environment for both the children and staff.
The football field is being well used and PIZZ school won 3 out of 4 games within the District. Unfortunately, due to lack of funds, they were unable to progress to the “Zonal games”. Maybe next time they will be ableto move further with the competition.
A small grant enabled some of the children to receive some food (bread and tea) during May. It is the aim to be able to provide a little food on a regular basis, if funds can be found. The reality is that many of the children come to school hungry and find it difficult to concentrate on their studies as a result.
At the beginning of the year a HATW Volunteer – Deana – visited Monze and spent some time at the school. Deana was able to work with some of the children after school. Some of the work they produced is shown withthis report. There is usually little chance for the children to express themselves artistically, so it was with great delight that they took the opportunity to paint and draw.
I will be traveling back to Monze in September and will spend some time at the school. It is always a delight to meet the children who are so full of life and to experience their enthusiastic greetings! They are so appreciative of the opportunities they have, as a result of the funds we provide, with your help. I only wish that we could do more to improve their chances.
Every penny gives hope. These children now have the possibility of achieving their potential. Thank you for your support, it is making a real difference.
It is heartening to hear how well the students are doing despite all the difficulties they face. The school playing field is in very regular use for football games – formal and informal, with some of the local youth enjoying the facilities with the students. The girls join in the football as well as playing netball. The field has also been recently used for a school sports day.Deana, one of the Hands Around the World volunteers, is in Monze at the moment and has been assisting with some of the English classes. A retired Health Visitor from the UK Deana is working with health workers in the community around Monze, but has also found time to run some after-school activities at PIZZ. She has helped some of the children to develop their skills in sewing and has engaged them in various craft activities. She says that the children usually have little time to become involved in less academic activities at the school. So she has been able to provide a bit of extra stimulus. She also organised a visit from the hospital Peer Educators who teach the children about AIDS prevention, using sketches and involving them in plenty of dancing and drumming.Last year a fence was put around the school plot to deter the animals. Recently about 100 trees have been planted in the grounds to improve the environment.There are now five students sponsored through the Hands Around the World Child sponsorship scheme (£10 per month) who are now attending local secondary schools. More would attend if Mrs. Sianga had the funds. Could you or a friend maybe sponsor a child please?The school still faces major challenges daily, but knowing that they have supporters throughout the world gives them real hope, and the incentive to continue to work hard for their future.
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