I have just returned from a two month visit to Zambia – most of which was spent at Monze. This gave me a good opportunity to meet Mrs. Sianga, the staff and students of PIZZ School and talk about the issues and progress made at the school.
It is always a delight to visit the school and see the bright happy and confident students. This year the children are looking healthier as a result of the food they are now receiving each day. The fact that the food makes such a difference, demonstrates the difficult lives these children live. I was able to talk to a number of students who are being sponsored through Hands Around the World – both current students and some who have moved on to local secondary schools. It is always interesting to hear about their ambitions – many want to be teachers, doctors and nurses, but Gideon is keen to become a pilot - flying all around the world! I love to think that, if I am still around in 20 years, he will fly me to Zambia or back home! It is in order to make such dreams come true that we are supporting this project.
Meeting the routine costs is a major issue for the school. There are never sufficient books and other teaching materials. The provision of food is clearly very important and currently the funds sent specifically for this purpose are insufficient.
It has been possible for the new site to be fenced, though metal posts are needed as the wooden ones are quickly eaten by termites! A strong room has been constructed at the school to enable exams to take place there – this will save the disruption and the extra costs involved in taken students to other schools to sit their exams. It is hoped that approval will be granted for next year.
It is clear that the school provides so much more than just a centre for learning. Voluntary care givers support the school staff to check on children facing particular difficulties, and additional help and counselling is provided. Without the school many of the children would have very little hope, but instead they know there is a chance to be someone – to be able to support themselves and provide a better life for their families. This gives them a sense of value and dignity, so important for all of us, which otherwise most would lack.
This project deserves all the support it can get. I know that every penny is being well spent and can vouch for the difference it is making to the lives of the young students. Thank you for your generosity.
The hard work by the teachers and students over the years has been rewarded with good results in the grade 9 examinations. 19 students passed the exams and were accepted at local secondary schools – more than half of the grade 9 students. Considering the difficulties faced by the children and the limited resources at the school, this is a remarkable achievement. Each year the results have been improving. With the help of our supporters the school is making a huge difference to these children and with your further support even greater things will be achieved.
Mrs. Sianga wants to continue to help to these children so they can complete their education and have a better chance to provide properly for themselves and their families. One former student, Mawini, achieved the top marks at the local Secondary High School and is currently applying to university where she hopes to study medicine and eventually become a doctor. We will follow her progress and back Mrs. Sianga in her quest to change the lives of these children.
The past few months have been very difficult for the families in and around Monze. The harvest last year was very poor resulting in high food prices. People have told me that there has been a lot of hunger in the area. The small lunches that the school has been able to provide have therefore taken on even more significance. In addition the garden has produced vegetables to support the children's diet. Mr Olden Hamabibi (headteacher) writes “The garden has improved the lives of the orphans”.
I will have the pleasure of visiting Monze again within two weeks and will stay in Monze until June. I will talk to the students and teachers and hope to bring more stories demonstrating how lives are being changed. I look forward to seeing the smiling faces and being entertained by the talented students. There is so much potential within these children, we must do our best to ensure that it is realised.
At this time the students are busy with their end of year exams. Those who are in Grade 9 will be working hard to get get good results and hope to find sponsorship to continue with their studies at a local secondary school. Mrs Sianga already supports a number of students in secondary school with support from HANDS AROUND THE WORLD.
The gardening project is progressing well – providing extra food and a little income, but most importantly teaching the children useful skills.
The children at the school are now receiving a small meal each day. This is helping them to concentrate better on their lessons. This is very important and, funding permitting, it will become a long term facility provided at the school. The harvest this year has been very poor and the prices have risen, resulting in more hunger among the school children, so a good meal is particularly valuable. At least at the moment the trees are heavy with mangoes, which provide a readily-available supplement to the diet. But the current rainy season doesn't look good. Very little rain fell until last week when damage from very heavy rain, strong winds and lightning has left additional problems for some families.
Through the generosity of a number of supporters, we were able to provide an extra supply of books a couple of months back. This was desperately needed to give the children direct access to textbooks. The situation is still far from ideal – students still need to share textbooks – but it is a vast improvement on the earlier situation.
We wish the students success in their exams and look forward to the new intake of children in Grade 1 in January.
I am happy to add this letter written by Olden Hamabibi the school Head:
PIZZ School feeding programme has played a pivotal role to our orphans. The foillowing are the many benefits for the children and the administration:
(a) it has improved attendance for the children. (b) it has motivated the children to learn effectively. (c) it has improved the class participation for children. (d) it has enhanced the hope for bright future for orphans. (e) it has acted as a healing power for the broken soul. (f) it has made orphans to feel cared and loved by the world. (g) it has also added joy on their faces in the school.
Thank you very much. PLEASE KEEP ON HELPING THE ORPHANS IN ZAMBIA!"
The following is an e-postcard from Kai Iizuka, a GlobalGiving Representative in Zambia.
At the PIZZ School, I was greeted by a sea of happy faces eager to show their visiting guests things that they had been working on. Many of the children are orphans from the neighboring compounds who would otherwise not be attending school, but thanks to the good work of Hands Around the World, the head teacher Mrs. Sianga and her staff of twelve teachers, they are able to receive an education that keeps them off the streets. Though the school faces numerous challenges, such as the lack of classrooms and furniture, as well as no running water, the staff is all making sacrifices, such as providing their own materials from home, to ensure that the children are able to learn. There is even a small garden plot maintained by the students under the supervision of staff that help to teach life skills as well as generate a bit of income for the school.
As I sat in front of the assembled mass of all three hundred or more students, groups came up one by one to showcase their many talents. A group of 6th grade girls sang a song about AIDS and HIV, another group showed us a traditional Zambian dance, and the one that seemed to generate the most laughter from the crowd was a play from the boys of the drama club. This act in particular was so full of life and energy, you couldn’t help but laugh at the comedic actions of the various cast as they told the story of two young students getting in trouble for not attending school and instead mistakenly stealing a sick man’s food and medicine.
It was a delight to be able to spend some time at PIZZ School last month. I was impressed by the lively children I met and the dedication of the staff.
I had a chance to talk to the teachers and to a number of the students. I have been visiting for many years now so many of the students recognise me and I am getting to know a few familiar faces. It was coming to the end of their winter and the weather was quite varied. There were long periods when I experienced cloudless skies and then a few windy and overcast days would follow. Despite being winter, the temperature rarely failed to reach 20°C during the day – though at night it sometimes fell below 10°C – which is cold if you have no heating (and possibly no blanket).
The children are working hard on the garden watering and planting crops. The tomatoes have done well and some were sold to provide extra funds – the children who helped were treated to some sweet potatoes. While I was in Zambia another 1,500 tomato plants were transplanted. The income will buy pens and notebooks for the students that cannot afford to buy them. The garden is also important in teaching important life skills to the students. In Zambia most poor families need to supplement any small income they might get by growing their own food.
Along with Kai – our visitor from Global Giving – I was treated to a selection of sketches, songs and poems from the students. I was impressed by how confidently the children performed. This demonstrated just how far these children had progressed.
The school started as a single classroom. Now some of the children have left PIZZ school and are about to graduate from local Secondary Schools. It was a common cry from the children that we should try to find them funds to complete their studies – even after leaving PIZZ school. Fortunately Mrs. Sianga has managed to pay the Secondary School fees for some of the children, with help from Hands Around the World and your donations. One student who expects to do very well in her exams wants to become a doctor – we will try to help her to go to medical school. I was also delighted to hear of another student who has taken a different route and is making a living as a professional musician.
It is clear that lives are being changed through this project and with your help we will continue to improve the lives of the children of Monze.
Thank you for your help.
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