Nov 27, 2010

New School Facilities

Mukuni Basic School
Mukuni Basic School

     Education is the key and the only way to overcome poverty, hunger and disease. Thanks to a substantial grant from Jersey Overseas Aid Commission we have been able to advance the education in five schools in the Kazungula District of Zambia. All of these schools are in remote areas and receive very little assistant from the outside world. With the addition of a 1×2 classroom, teacher’s house and latrines Kamwi Basic School has been able to add extra grades, which means that children no longer have to walk several miles to Mukuni. Simasimbi Basic School has been given the same development as Kamwi; the school becomes inaccessible during the rainy season making it even more beneficial to have improved facilities.

     The children of Mandandi used a simple mud hut as a school, where they were taught by untrained teachers. The addition of a brand new school has been welcomed by the community, trained teachers will be provided by the government for the opening in the new year. A new pre-school classroom has been built for the children of Machenje Village, with the aim of being supported by the community through income-generating activities. The flagship of the all our constructions is the new 1×3 classroom block, complete with an office and storerooms at Mukuni Basic School. The Jersey Overseas Aid Commission funding also included a much needed staff house for the clinic at N’songwe Village. This is the third clinic we are supporting.

     I had to deal with one of the most heartbreaking stories I have encountered in almost five years of working in Zambia. Elvis and Vincent were born two months’ premature after their mother went into labour at seven months and died in childbirth with a third baby. The Butterfly Tree has offered to support these helpless infants who need four tins of formula a week. Dealing with this case reconfirmed just how vulnerable these people are and how desperately they need our help. Advancing the health and education facilities will hopefully reduce the number of these distressing cases. The support we have received this year has been overwhelming, as you can see your donations have been used to make a difference to the lives of many people, please continue this vital support.

Help us to help more of these vulnerable children and sponsor a child today.

Thank you for your continued support.

The Butterfly Tree

New Pre-School Machenje Village
New Pre-School Machenje Village


Oct 11, 2010

Orphan Education Sponsorship

Learning to play the guitar
Learning to play the guitar

Children have no choice where they are born and when you are born into a Zambian family the chances of losing your parents at an early sage are very high. The HIV and AIDS  in Zambia pandemic has infected or affected almost every family. One in six adults have the HIV virus and 710,000 children have been left orphaned. What happens to these orphans? The luckier ones have family members who look after them, others have guardians, while the unlucky ones who have lost everyone close to them, have to fend for themselves. Many of the have to drop out of school as they can no longer afford the school fees and need to earn money to buy food.

The Butterfly Tree orphan education sponsorship program has given hope to almost 400 children and the numbers are rising. Last month an association in Australia - the Mukuni Village Inc. generously offered to sponsor twenty orphans in addition to the 30 they sponsored last year. This has given the program a huge boost. We have many donors sponsoring between one and ten orphans, some have been with us since 2006 coming from several different countries. We are extremely grateful for this support and hope that this continues as we need many more people to sponsor an orphan.

Virtually all of our projects in education, health and community work are for the benefit of these vulnerable children. By offering them a chance to go to school, eat a nutritious meal and drink safe, clean water they have a chance in life. Education is the most important aspect of an orphan’s life. Our aim is to get as many of these orphans back into education as possible and to build classrooms in areas where there are no schools. Ten schools in the Mukuni Chiefdom are receiving our support and it is hoped, funds permitting, that we can develop schools in the Musokotwane Chiefdom in 2011.

In December we had our first school leavers after completing their A levels at the high school built by the charity. Although unemployment is extremely high one young man who had been on our orphan sonsorship program secured a job with Sun International. Victor Simango works as a security officer at the Zambezi Sun Hotel alongside the Victoria Falls and is very grateful to his sponsor who gave him the chance to improve his situation. Help us to help more of these vulnerable children.

Thank you for your continued support.


Jul 12, 2010

A Visit to The Butterfly Tree

So aside from my Victoria Falls bungee jumping adventures and seven-dollar-a-night hostel experiences, I did get a little bit of work done in Livingstone, Zambia.

Taking off from my luxurious hostel at seven in the a.m. I traveled to Mukuni village, happy to escape the hordes of guys peddling copper bracelets on the Livingstone streets.

Just a note--these guys are, by far, the most persistent salesmen I have ever seen. Literally, these fellas will walk and talk with you for an hour without ever mentioning their product. Good strategy? Who knows, but you at least get a good conversation out of the experience.

Anyway, Mukuni village, tucked right by the falls, is by village standards, gigantic. Literally thousands of people inhabit this village that has existed for centuries upon centuries. The people, who depend largely on selling local crafts and agriculture, have developed a very strong relationship with UK-based non-profit, The Butterfly Tree.

Just strolling through the village with Mr. Presley Mulenga, member of The Butterfly Tree and headmaster of Mukuni Basic School, the name “The Butterfly Tree” is ever-present. Be it latrines, schools, clinics, etc. there is no escaping the influence this charity has had on this large, yet tight-knit community.

When I first arrived, I found myself in a room with 7-8 women, all of whom were HIV positive. Some looked completely healthy, but others were clearly struggling in the fight, a look I have come to notice too easily while in Africa. Working through a Leya translator, I learned that The Butterfly Tree has helped with funding of the village clinic, obtaining antiretroviral medication for villagers, and has established a brand new maternity ward.

Most importantly, I believe, the organization has helped provide these women with the means to start their own sensitivization organization—try saying that five times fast. This support group travels throughout the area, telling their stories, and holds HIV seminars for both infected and non-infected individuals. So far, the results have been amazing, both for the listeners and for the ladies.

“It has been fantastic. There used to be such a stigma, but now it is getting better. When you have HIV, keeping busy allows you to finally feel normal again,” says Cynthia, support group secretary and primary school teacher. Cynthia was paralyzed just years ago. With The Butterfly Tree’s help she was able to keep her head above water with a growing stack of medical bills. With their help, she now walks.

However, their work doesn’t stop there. The face of education has been completely transformed thanks to the presence of these development lovin’ Brits.

They have established several basic schools in both Mukuni and elsewhere, providing children in rural areas with accessible education. When I arrived they were working on one brand new classroom block--a classroom for children for disabilities, and are on the way towards opening a high school for local children.

Some children were walking as far as 21 km to attend the basic school in Mukuni. For my fellow Americans, that is approximately 13 miles….one way. These children, leaving long before sunrise, are often in direct danger during seasons of elephant migration. Thanks to The Butterfly Tree, the Kamwi School is close to being finished, cutting short that unbelievable commute.

The organization has also been working extensively with an orphan program, sponsoring children so that they may live healthy, educated lives.

Now at this point it may seem that I’m done praising The Butterfly Tree’s work. In all honesty, if I had to fully explain all that The Butterfly Tree does, you all wouldn’t be willing to read that beast of an article.

However, for your benefit here are just a few more highlights of work being done—The Butterfly Tree has established an under-five feeding program and has put several playpumps in place (a contraption that allows kids to play on playground equipment while simultaneously pumping water into a reservoir). The Butterfly Tree helped to create a chicken farming operation, install countless latrines, council HIV-stricken mothers, help with prosthetics and individuals suffering from leprosy, shoe the shoeless, and build over 30 homes in the area.

Impressive, huh? That’s right, these people are non-profit superstars.

An organization providing this scale of influence is seldom seen. The Butterfly Tree has influenced literally every facet of Mukuni society, fighting HIV/AIDS and poverty from every possible angle.

A big-time organization that deserves some big-time attention—The Butterfly Tree. Troy Smith, a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is currently an In-the-Field traveler visiting GlobalGiving projects throughout Zambia, Malawi, and Tanzania. Follow his trip at

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