HIV Prevention Peer Educators
Coming from remote villages in Zambia the majority of children have to walk daily, from one to ten miles each way, to seek an education. The facility may only be a mud hut with an untrained teacher, but the eagerness to learn, shown by these vulnerable children, never seizes to amaze me. Education is everything to them.
Since 2006 The Butterfly Tree has run an orphan support programme for children who have lost one or both parents. Several hundred children have received a sound basic education, now many of the original beneficiaries have completed school.
Over the past ten years we have build a considerable number of schools and teachers houses, installed bore hole and latrines, improved the health facilities, all for the benefit of the orphans. In addition we have provided vast amounts of educational material, sports and classroom equipment and much needed boarding shelters to enable older children to attend High School.
What has impressed me most is the desire for these educated orphans to give back to their community. Jacob, when he completed grade 12, thanked me and added ‘What can I do to help The Butterfly Tree?’ He has since been a volunteer at Mukuni Health Centre, helped us with the orphan and malaria prevention programmes, and is about to start his final year at agricultural college.
Others like Josias, Edwin, Natasha, Joe, Sammy, Florence, Mufiani, and Etkin have followed suit by volunteering for the charity. Most importantly many of them have become trained peer educators in HIV prevention, a programme that was written especially for these young Zambians by Mutsa Marau, one of our UK volunteers. Natasha and Bridget are full time volunteers at the clinic.
‘Catch me I’m a Butterfly Tree’ teaches school children about the dangers of HIV and AIDS, early teenage pregnancies, STI’s and drug and alcohol abuse. I spent several days in March observing and working with these young peer educators, it was truly inspirational. They are motivated role models and the ones that will make the change for their peers and families to lead healthier lives.
When funds are available we sponsor orphans to go to college. The courses include hotel management, teaching, engineering and computing to name but a few. A major donor sponsored 20 students, out of these 18 have sought employment. Our aim is to source funds to provide further education opportunities for the orphans, and to create a training centre for young entrepreneurs.
A message from Petronella:
'I would like to thank you for the sponsorship you gave me towards my education. I believe that for me I am where I am today because of you and can’t imagine how I would have ended up if I hadn’t been offered the chance to get an education.’
We are so grateful to everyone of our donors who have helped these disdvantaged to be educated.