Project #10448

Seeds for Life in Zambia

by The Butterfly Tree
Leseli waiting for his lunch
Leseli waiting for his lunch

School feeding programmes are essential in providing a sustainable meal for orphans and vulnerable children. 

Two months ago The Butterfly Tree leanrt of the Siatali family living in a rural area near the town of Kazungula. A family of six, the four children had never been to school. The father had no employment and could not afford to send his children to school.

This week, after I arrived in Zambia one of my first visits was to the home of this family. The charity had recently agreed to support the older child, a girl aged 16 in education, and provide uniforms for the two boys aged 12 and 13.

Their home consists of two old mud dwellings, one for the parents and youngest child, a girl aged 8 and the other for the three older children. The mother was preparing lunch for the family in a small cooking pot half full of rape, a green nutritious vegetable. There was no ground maize nor beans, the staple food for most Zambians.

The Head Teacher, who accompanied me, explained that the only food they had was a few vegetables, which they grew. Other than that, each evening that the father would walk some distance to the local restaurants and gather left-over food off plastic plates that had been thrown away. The entire scene was pitiful and totally inadequate to support a growing family.

Every year, with the help of your donations, The Butterfly Tree provides seeds and fertilizer to schools with the aim of providing sustainable feeding programs, essential for vulnerable children like the Sitali family.

The three older children now attend River View Junior Secondary School and have settled in well. Every day they walk three miles, each way, to seek their education and the knowledge that they will get at least enjoy one meal a day.

This week I offered the younger child the opportunity to go to the local community school, starting on Monday. To further support the family we are going to give them seeds and fertilizer in time for the forthcoming rains and growing season. This was they can grow maize, dry it for the winter months and seel any surplus to create an income as well as food for themselves.

By the time I left this family I felt so humble, and yet the look of joy and hope in their eyes confirmed how important it is to help those less fortunate than we are. 

Some of the 1,100 pupils at River View School
Some of the 1,100 pupils at River View School


In the past few weeks The Butterfly Tree has received substantial funding to add four new bore holes (wells). Three of these are for schools, one has already been completed with three more to follow. With 4.8 million people in Zambia lacking safe drinking water every addition helps, especially in rural areas.

River View School in the Sekute Chiefdom near the town of Kazungula, now has access to water, not only for drinking, but also to provide irrigation for their school garden. Up until last week pupils had to draw water from the Zambezi River, which is teeming with crocodiles. Earlier this year a young school boy, from this school, almost lost his life while collecting water with a bucket. Luckily a friend alerted him before the crocodile had chance to attack.

For the past two years the Southern part of Zambia has suffered from drought, resulting in crop failures and much hunger. This is the dry season, there has been no rain since April. The schools are now closed for a month's break. However in early September when the schools resume for the new term it will be time to start preparing the school gardens in readiness for planting.

Providing seeds and fertiliser helps the schools to have sustainable feeding programs.This is vital for children who walk long distances, those who are orphaned and ones that come from vulnerable families. Two months ago the Head Teacher, Rev Mulenga, at River View met two families with a total of six children who were unable to go to school due to lack of funds. The only food they received was leftovers from a nearby cafe.

We are pleased to say that all six children have been enrolled in school after we offered support. They will all be able to benefit from the school feeding program.

Thank you to everyone for supporting our project and to Global Giving for awarding The Butterfly Tree 'Super Star' status!


Maize growing in Kamwi Village
Maize growing in Kamwi Village

While people in many countries are tackling obseity, other countries are suffering from hunger. The Seeds for Life project provides schools with an opportunity to create sustainable feeding programs. The project is helping children in a number of rural areas of Zambia to have a nutritional meal, while attending school.

Due to the recent drought The Butterfly Tree is sourcing alternative crops to that of maize, which is rain dependent. Sorghum is being introduced as an alternative. It provides a rich source of energy, is drought tolerant and environmentally friendly. In addition beans are grown to provide a rich source of protein.

Whereas we in the west throw away some vegetable leaves and stalks, in rural areas of Zambia, every part of the vegetable is eaten. For example pumpkin leaves, which we never see when buying a pumpkin, are high in clacium and also  a good source of vitamins, as well as iron.

Local people have depended on these types of food supplies for decades, but sadly poverty and the added burden of drought, leaves families unable to suffice the appetites of growing children. This is where your donation has really helped. By donating just a small amount to our Seeds for Life project, school pupils can benefit from a meal, which helps to improve their concentration and performance.

Due to the lack of rain some school had failed crops, but the ones that left the planting until later in the season have produced healthy crops. The school bore holes provides a regular source of irrigation, unless there is a nearby stream.

As always working in Zambia is challenging, but seeing children eating heartily is both a humbling and rewarding experience. We have bought extra bags of maize for families, such as Wingrey Mulonzya's family, who had no food when I last visited Zambia. They were living off local fruits. Wingrey has lost both his parents. His older brother, who is married and has two young children, has to provide for everyone. To further help this family we are now sponsoring Wingrey's education. 

We aim to provide additional schools with seeds in time for the the next planting. 

Dry River Bed - Nyawa Chiefdom
Dry River Bed - Nyawa Chiefdom

Over one third of Zambia’s 15.5 million population do no have access to safe clean drinking water and 25% of all schools to not have a safe supply of water. 

For many of us the constant rainy days this winter have become tiresome. The ground is saturated, which restricts us being able to play sport, do the gardening or hang out the washing. Imagine what it would be like if you had no fresh water to drink, no rain to irrigate the crops and no streams to wash your clothes in.

While some areas of the globe are experiencing excessive rain and flooding caused by El Niño many countries in Eastern and Southern Africa are suffering from drought. Zambia is no exception. Though substantial rain has helped parts of the nation, areas between Zimba to Livingstone, in Southern Province, have been hit for the second consecutive year. The Chiefdoms where we work are in this region.

Reports are coming in of dry streams, failed crops and food shortages. Children are drinking from shallow wells. At River View School, which is close to the Zambezi River, water is generally pumped from the river using an electric pump, but when there is no electricity, water has to be drawn from the river. Last week, a fourteen year old boy had a narrow escape. As he was drawing the water a friend noticed a crocodile heading towards him and thankfully alerted the boy in time!

We have successfully installed a number of bore holes and Indian hand pumps in schools, clinics and rural communities. This facility not only provides safe drinking water, but also a source of irrigation for school gardens to create sustainable feeding programs. As maize is rain dependent we have introduced sorghum seeds for schools, the crop requires less water, along with vegetable seeds. This has helped tremendously as all the maize crops in the area have failed. Sorghum provides a nutritional alternative to maize.

Our priority over the next few months will be to source funds to provide more remote schools and clinics with bore holes, and to donate extra seeds to to help alleviate hunger.


Simsumuku School welcomes new bore hole
Simsumuku School welcomes new bore hole

In 2015 Zambia was ranked as the third Hungriest country in the world.

The staple diet for most Zambians in maize, which is rain dependent. Due to the unpredicatable global weather patterns in recent years, most countries in Eastern and Southern Africa have been suffering from drought. Zambia is no exception. Last year poor rains caused the crops to perish in rural communities in the Southern Province, resulting in much hunger, especially amonst school children. Unfortunately this year the same pattern appears to be happening, unseasonably high temperatures and low rainfall are being reported.

To help alleviate this problem The Butterfly Tree donates wells to school so that they can grow crops such as sorghum, which are less rain dependent. In addition we provide seeds for beans and vegetables, as well as fertilizer. Sixteen schools have received donations in November 2015. One school, Muchambile, has also been given sunflower seeds to create a sustainable income-generating activity for the school. Sunflower oil will be produced and sold to members of the community and local shops. All profits will be used to buy much needed stationery and books for the pupils.

As part of the Seeds for Life project we raise funds for bore holes (wells). We are delighted to tell you that the charity has raised enough money to install three bore holes and hand pumps for Siachubuki, Bunsanga and Simsimuku rural schools in 2015, making a total of 17 in recent years. This will not only porovide safe drinking water, but also enough water to irrigate crops and vegetables for the school feeding programs.

Because of the recent drought towards the end of last year the streams and rivers were completely dry. Prior to the installation of a bore hole the pupils at Simsimuku School were digging holes in the mud to try and sourse drinking water. Now they have an abundance of water and will shortly be able to provide a daily nutritious meal for the growing children.

This project is vital for rual schools in a country that sufers high levels of poverty, malnutrition, HIV and AIDS and malaria. A small donation can feed an entire school.



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Organization Information

The Butterfly Tree

Location: Warwick, Warwickshire - United Kingdom
Website: http:/​/​​pages/​
Project Leader:
Jane Kaye-Bailey
Warwick, Warwcikshire United Kingdom

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