It has been such a long time since I sent out a newsletter that you might have been wondering if we were still in operation! As you’ll discover, we have been making great progress, these past few years…but we’re ready to take another big step forwards in the construction of new buildings, and we need your help.
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Here are some scenes from the newly completed classrooms in 2012.
Community School projects in Zambia have to be independently funded in their initial stages, before the Ministry of Education will provide any financial or material support.
To date, a total of approximately £35,000 has been raised, to build and equip the school, to put four teachers through their teacher-training college education, to supply the consumable items which have to be purchased every term, and to pay the teachers’ monthly wages. This has been donated by individual people and organisations from all around the world.
The full list of all donors is too long to include here, but I would like to mention a few, due to their long-term commitment to the project or the personal nature of their involvement.
Our grateful thanks go to Leanne and Matt from New Zealand. Leanne’s mother, Pauline, was a regular and enthusiastic visitor to Bovu Island and she truly loved the school. We were greatly saddened to hear that she passed away last year. Leanne and Matt have supported the project since its early days, recently sending a large sum to cover the teachers’ wages.
Brentwood School in England has continued to honour a commitment to raise funds for us during its Weald House annual charity week, thanks to the support of Nicola and all the staff and students, raising a total of nearly £3000 since 2009.
The ladies of the Craft Class in Dollar, Scotland, have quietly handed me sums of money every time I’ve been there to visit my mum on my visits from Zambia. From the sale of their hand-made cards, clothing and accessories, and with the support of their local church fair, they have raised hundreds of pounds for the school over several years. Adding to that, I would like to honour the regular donations from my mum, and my aunts Meg and Dora, extraordinary ladies whose combined ages reach 286!
Mary and her daughter, Sue, volunteered in 2010. Sue was born in Zambia and her dad had always wanted to bring her back for a visit…but sadly he passed away before they had that opportunity, so Mary made plans for the trip. They brought suitcases full of arts-and-crafts materials, and made an astounding array of creative works with the children and teachers. Sue set up a link between Mulemi and Westmorland School (where she’s the Head Teacher), sending letters and Christmas presents for all the children. Mary and her friends back home also raised funds to pay the college fees for our senior teacher, Aggrey.
More recently, we’ve established a warm and dynamic relationship with Crystal Springs Upland School (CSUS) in California. Teachers Chris and Peter worked hard behind the scenes to bring students to the project in 2012 and 2013, and we’ve just heard that Peter hopes to return with a new group in 2015.
Several CSUS students were deeply affected by their visits to our community, and all sorts of amazing things have come from this: Jackie, sister of a CSUS student, independently organised a gift of 160 durable water bottles from KOR and Nalgene in the US; thank you to the Happy Africa Foundation for helping us bring them into Zambia tax-free. Hannah has now joined up with The Traveling School, an organisation which gives high-school girls the chance to have a semester out in the world, learning about life by living it. Their tag line is Changing the world one girl at a time (and they’re coming our way…!)
Still on the theme of volunteers, Bronwen and her teenage son Gareth, and their friend Imogen, deserve special mention. Bronwen has a close connection with this part of the world, having lived in Botswana for many years, and she has made a place for us in her life, coming year after year from overseas with Gareth, to help with whatever needs to be done at the time. Not only does she bring a donation (which is very welcome), she also seeks to find out what’s going on behind the scenes at the school, and provides insightful and supportive advice. Imogen gives up her holiday time to help with the kids, as well as lending a hand with construction.
Dion from the Netherlands, who visited Bovu Island in 2013, makes regular payments through PayPal…which you can, too! Our new PayPal address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Other recent donations include: a set of football jerseys from Werder Bremen club in Germany, from Janina; a large donation from Hans; contributions from friends at Schumacher College; and many cash donations from guests on Bovu Island.
We have had several groups of students and teachers coming for short stays, as part of their overseas trip with Outlook Expeditions. Lanark Grammar School students in 2011 were a hard act to follow, but we’re delighted to say that the two groups in 2013, Rickmansworth and New College, Pontefract, and our three groups from Albyn School this year, have been wonderful: committed, hard-working and full of fun! One particular volunteer donation deserves a mention: Kirsty from Albyn School did a lot of fund-raising before she came, and brought a big contribution to the project.
Here are a few photos of the volunteers from 2013:
We also have the occasional individual volunteer coming to help for a week, a month, or longer. Volunteers stay on the lovely Bovu Island and become part of the relaxed life at the camp, where they recover from making concrete blocks or organising classroom activities with lively young kids! We’re very grateful to all who come to help in this way and, although we don’t run it as a regular programme, you’re welcome to come and join us.
Click here for further information.
Amazing things can happen when you commit to a project: due to the construction of the school, Kazungula District Council assisted the community in May 2013 with a much-needed borehole. Instead of facing the danger of crocodile attacks when collecting water from the Zambezi, villagers can now safely draw drinking water with a hand-pump, directly from an underground supply next to the school. Here’s a record of the very first drilling moment…and one satisfied customer!
The World Food Programme (WFP) has also officially recognised Mulemi Community School and sends a regular supply of maize and cowpeas for the children’s daily meal at school. Johan cooks the lunch outdoors, and the teachers serve it into the children’s bowls in the classroom. We need to build a kitchen, just a simple shelter outdoors, so that the food can be prepared in all weather conditions. We already have some blocks which we can use, but we still need to buy more building materials…and add it to the ever-growing list of things to be done!
Not only do we have to build physical structures: we also need to build up our teachers, giving them the opportunity to do further professional development, so we’re looking into paying for distance-learning courses, whereby Maureen and Aggrey can attend college in school holidays and study during termtime. Here are Given, Aggrey, and Maureen, at the national graduation ceremony in Lusaka, in April 2012, where they were awarded their Diplomas and Certificates.
We also supported Alice through college, but we have not yet been able to employ her, due in part to our lack of teachers’ housing.
Well, I’ve reached the point in my story where I can give you the big news: Given is now registered with the Ministry of Education as a primary school teacher. This is good news, for sure, and we are very proud of Given and his outstanding contribution to the school in its early days. The foundations of our school are rock-solid, because he gave his very best efforts as Head Teacher in its first two years. He has set a shining example of how a school should be run. Thank you, Given, and congratulations!
Of course, that’s also the bad news, because the District Education Board has whisked him off to Katombora Primary School, 15 km away, and he is no longer a member of our staff. We expected this to happen one day, and we’re very glad that we could play an important role in Given’s life, helping him with a career which offers the opportunity for long-term employment and professional development. We’re sad that we have to lose him…but maybe we’ll be able to entice him back, in the future, when we’re a fully-fledged primary school!
Aggrey is now Head Teacher, and he has been holding the fort admirably with Maureen, while we look for additional qualified teachers – and housing in the village – to cover the four current classes from pre-school to Grade 3, and to prepare for the Grade 4 class which will start in January 2015. Oliver, a young man from the community, has been helping with the pre-school classes, and we are currently reviewing his situation regarding future training and employment.
This is the crux of the matter – what we need to do next, and how much it’s going to cost. This is where we need your help. If you can contribute any amount of money, large or small, either on a one-off basis or regularly, please send a donation towards the following developments. Click here to find out how to donate.
- Construction of an Early Years Classroom. This will be a separate building, specially designed and equipped for the pre-school children, who are aged 3 to 6 years. If we can complete this soon, we can manage with the other existing classrooms for one more year: £8,000 / $13,000
- Construction of a 3 x 2, a building consisting of three classrooms and two teachers’ offices. This will give us room for 350 children: £35,000/$60,000
- Construction of three teachers’ houses, which will enable us to recruit qualified teachers for the fast-growing school: £45,000 / $75,000
- Teachers’ wages: Currently £350 / $600 per month
- College fees for professional development: To be confirmed
- Construction of a kitchen and dining area: £1500 / $2500
- Miscellaneous items, including books & stationery: Variable
These figures seem enormous…but we could hardly imagine, just a few years ago, that we would see a modern primary school growing on that piece of bare ground at the edge of the village! When I remind myself of all we have achieved so far, I know in my heart that the Mulemi Community School Project will succeed.
Once the new classrooms and teachers’ houses are ready, we’ll have met all the Ministry of Education requirements, and we can hand over a beautiful school to the nation.
On behalf of everyone in the community, thank you for your interest in our school.