Merry Christmas from Zambia Mission Fund - Canada
Thank you for your support in 2016! We wish we could transport each of you to Zambia to meet the people you have helped, sit in a classroom and take in a lesson, or attend a Sunday morning service in Classroom 10D at Kalomo High School. Maybe you’d like to inspect some of the fields of maize growing near churches and schools?
Your generosity made many things possible which otherwise would not have been possible.
This year has been another year of learning for Board members. We glean a lot from other organizations doing similar ministry in Africa, and this fall we watched a documentary on Net flicks titled “Poverty Inc”. We encourage you to watch it if you can.
Education has been the main focus in 2016. The physical components of classrooms, toilets, clean water and teacher accommodation were further developed this year. Inside classrooms, over twenty teachers were supported to ensure that each grade would be taught. Computers were purchased for the schools with upper grades and security installed to protect them. Text books were purchased. For high school and college pupils –fees were paid. And some received new Bata school shoes. [Black – no frills.] Each term Ruhtt held a “meet the parents” day for Kalomo High School pupils. Almost every parent/guardian came. At the end of each term we waited like expectant parents for school classroom results and high school student results. You might have heard some cheering this year. Results are improving!
Another focus in 2016 has been that of caring for ‘orphans and vulnerable children’ by way of the milk formula program. We have learned that families are God’s Plan A for babies, even if it is extended family caring for the baby. The babies come each month wearing their Sunday best, which may not look like our Sunday best, but the babies are obviously well-loved. Nothing beats that!
The seed and fertilizer program has grown to include over forty churches and several schools. Church leaders meet several times a year to talk together about the importance of caring for the vulnerable within their congregation. The harvest is given to those in most need which in many cases is families caring for orphans within their own relatives.
Tendai, a foster family headed by Wilson and Nancy Siazilo, has ended the year with three fewer children. Memory now lives with an uncle and aunt and her biological siblings in Mazabuka. She has enjoyed returning to the fold of family. Holy is now in Kalomo with his mother and Twaambo in Lusaka with cousins. We will keep in touch with each of them.
Plans are underway for 2017. Ruhtt Mbumwae, who heads education development, has had her heart touched by the community of Butale. It is only eighteen km from Kalomo but the road is poor and the community has been overlooked by the Ministry of Education. As Ruhtt puts it “it is like Nalabumba was 10 years ago”. Ruhtt’s approach is always a cautious one while she watches to see what a community will do for themselves. Meantime, ZMF-C is giving a small leg-up and a few recently graduated teachers from the sponsorship program will be moving there to teach. Several hundred children are waiting for an education. Stay tuned!
Nalabumba, Siabalumbi, Good Hope and Seven Fountains schools are ticking along fairly nicely. A few bumps here and there with staff, but other than this all is well.
Many thanks to you all – and Merry Christmas!
From all of us with ZMF-C – on both sides of world!
ZAMBIA MISSION FUND CANADA SPONSORED STUDENTS
From the sponsorship selection early this year I received the names of 18 students that were entering Grade 10 at Kalomo High School, to assign to sponsors. I counted - 10 girls and 8 boys. I think that is a first - more females than males!!! I know that a number of you share my desire to see more females in Africa getting an education and I am encouraged by these numbers. It appears to me that families are starting to become more aware of how important it is for their daughters as well as their sons to receive a good education.
I quote from UNICEF:
“Study after study shows that educating girls is the single most effective policy to raise overall economic productivity, lower infant and maternal mortality, educate the next generation, improve nutrition and promote health. Girls with at least six years of school education are more likely to be able to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Educated mothers immunize their children more often than mothers who are not educated, and their children have a higher survival rate. Moreover, mothers who have had some education are more than twice as likely to send their own children to school as are mothers with no education.”
Each year we attempt to get photos of all sponsored students and letters from them to send to their sponsors. If a student is absent on the day we arrive to take photos, or if the school is far away (for example Lusaka) we will miss seeing some of the students and therefore do not get their photos or letters every year.
In early March while my husband and I were visiting Zambia, we made arrangement to meet with our sponsored students from DALICE and LIBES, two colleges in Livingstone. I gave my contact the choice for the students to meet us at their colleges or at the local Hungry Lion (similar to our Kentucky Fried Chicken). They of course chose the Hungry Lion probably with the hope they would be provided with a Coke, some chips or some chicken!!! My husband and I were happy to oblige. These young folks do not get much in the way of treats. At the hour arranged the rain came down in torrents and we did not expect all of them to arrive but most of them did. They were treated to a chicken lunch with chips and a Coke!!! It is always a delight to meet these young people and to encourage them. Life is not easy for them. They are taking the opportunity they have been given, are working hard and are very thankful for the chance to receive a good education.
My husband and I also had the privilege of meeting with many of our Kalomo High School students as they participated in their “volunteer” time of work on Saturday morning. Since Anne Sampa was visiting she was asked if she would address the students. Anne Sampa is a Zambian lawyer and her story is our student’s story. She came from a poor village, was given the opportunity to attend school, then university and is very thankful that she had this opportunity. It was good for our students to hear her story, and to be encouraged by her.
I feel privileged to be able to travel to Zambia and spend time with our sponsored
students and their families. This year I had the pleasure of being gifted with a live chicken as we visited with villagers which is an honour and quite the experience!!!
Each time I visit Zambia and have the chance to visit some of our sponsored students, I thank God that we have been able to reach out and touch the lives of these students, their families and their communities.
I thank God that there are people here in Canada and the US that are willing to give these young people the chance of a lifetime, to receive an education. May God continue to keep and bless you and your families.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
Today was the day of the ZMF-C grade 10 selection for sponsorship.
The day was long, hot and busy!
Gathering started around 07:00 and ended at 6:30 pm. People walked or cycled for many kilometers (20, 30, 40..)
The grade 9 exam results came out a couple weeks ago. Some will never be able to start grade 10 because their results are too low and they don’t have anyone to pay for the school fees. According to the government, education for Zambian children up grade 7 is free. Each school still charges a PTA fee and since children are expected to come to school in uniform, some pupils quit early.
ZMF-C offers a scholarship for those who have qualified academically and for those who genuinely can prove they cannot financially manage.
The grade 9 exam results are tallied in points. This year the government “cut-off” point is 358 for boys and 355 for girls. ZMF-C “cut-off” point is 360, with a 50% in English, math and science.
Determining with complete accuracy who qualifies financially is a bit tricky but ZMF-C tries “by all means’ by reviewing supporting reference letters from the youth’s church, school head teacher and a respected community leader (i.e. headman).
For those pupils who are academically a bit weak and financially strapped, ZMF-C offers a 50% sponsorship with encouragement to work hard academically. At the end of term 2 in grade 10 the Sponsorship Coordinator, Mrs. Mbumwae will evaluate which pupils will finally be accepted. In the meantime each one will be individually evaluated and given homework of reading and math as required in order for academic improvement to possibly happen.
Besides being an international competitive runner in the past Mrs. Mbumwae had many years in university in the area of education.
On this day of selection parents, youth, and community/church leader gather. Mrs. Mbumwae spends MUCH time instructing youth and the adults on the importance of partnering with ZMF-C. We are not a bank. There are important values to learn in this partnership such as: HONESTY, spiritual growth and parental input into the child’s education.
ZMF-C always insist on financial partnering and each family is required to contribute.
By the end of this long day ZMF-C had accepted 18 students for sponsorship. There will be a few more over the next few days, but the bulk of the screening has been done!
Thanks for partnering with us!
February 8, 2016
Dear Family and Friends,
I was pretty sure the mosquito was inside the net. Our gauze fortress has some issues and the little rascal managed to find his way in. I flapped the sheet, ducked under and listened: roosters crowing, insects whirring, a dog in the distance… The school bell rang its 5:30 wake-up call. Finally, the bees started humming and it was time to make coffee.
Power has been fairly steady since our arrival nearly two weeks ago. We have had hot coffee each morning and a hot supper every evening. During the worst of the load shedding just two months ago many invested in solar panels, batteries and generators. They expect to be in use again this year when the dry season returns, and the Zambezi runs low… Most Zambians live off the grid and are free of frustrations. Sometimes I envy the simplicity of their lives.
Rain has been fairly normal in Kalomo this month and we see a few healthy fields of maize. There was a dry stretch in December that affected other maize fields, and they look sad indeed. Rain can be fickle here – abundant in some areas and stingy in others. Hunger has visited some villages not far away and food relief is in place. Several weeks ago we began a lunch program at Siabalumbi, Nalabumba and Good Hope schools to ensure all pupils have something to keep their tummies full.
The Basic school results for 2015 are out and our schools did well when ranked against the other nearly 100 schools in the Kalomo district. Staff are celebrating and we are celebrating, too. Still, the results are only comparative to other schools, and a lot of improvement is yet to come. We hope the positive ranking will spark more passion for education and even more reward for the teachers and their pupils. It has taken years to get traction, and mammoth effort on the part of Ruhtt Mbumwae. Thank you Lord!
We are staying under the thatch at Namwianga Mission. The house is showing her age and yet she is still hospitable. She is also hostess to critters and we share the space more or less respectfully. A wall spider in our bathroom has his patch near the toilet. He has not moved more than two feet since our arrival and at times this can be distracting. We hope he is eating mosquitoes and personally I hope our early morning invader makes his way to the bathroom sometime today The thatch roof quite regularly offers up dried remains of a former resident which makes sweeping and table wiping necessary every day.
Last Saturday we met with all of the sponsored students from Kalomo High School. We gathered on the lawn at Kasensa for a morning of games, skits, songs, drumming and dancing. This year just over 100 students in Grades 10, 11 and 12 are within the program and some talented youngsters are among the bunch! They are a small group within the larger student body of over 1000 pupils at Kalomo High School and it is wonderful to see the kinship they experience with each other. This Sunday we’ll worship with these students at the high school in classroom 10D. Come join us if you like. As they say here – ‘you are most welcome’!
Next door to Kasensa is Tendai. Since 2006 Wilson and Nancy Siazilo have fostered seven children at Tendai, with the youngest being Memory, now ten years old. Memory has been suffering intermittent bouts of abdominal pain since October and been hospitalized four times. The most recent bout began the day after our arrival, and Memory has spent most of the past ten days at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka. She has been in a long queue for a CT scan, now scheduled for 8 a.m. this morning. We are grateful to a doctor at this hospital who is also a friend and has helped organize this appointment. It is impossible for us to be here and not compare our health care system to what Memory is experiencing. Our system in Canada is not perfect, but we know that a ten year old would have been fast-tracked: diagnosed and treated and home again with great care and follow-up. We puzzle and we grieve for what could be, and should be…
Many years ago Roy Merritt walked us through a small cemetery behind the old Namwianga Church. I recall seeing two tiny headstones for two precious babies born to missionaries and it affected me profoundly. These parents were serving the Lord far from home and family, and yet were not immune to tragedy. How difficult and painful it must have been. One headstone read “Our Baby - Joseph Bell - May 1963” Another read “Dow Edward Elder - A Precious Rosebud Lent To Us For A While”. He was six months old. The Bell baby intrigued us and we wondered if there was a connection to friends in Saskatchewan, Gerry and Lorna Bell. We discovered recently that Gerry is a second cousin to baby Joseph, and Gerry and his wife Lorna have joined us this year in Zambia. On Tuesday, with Roy’s help, we made our way back to the small cemetery, now overgrown, and found the little headstones. With gloves and garden pruners we tramped tall grass and clipped branches and slowly made our way to the gate…then foot by foot to the spot where years ago two families laid their babies to rest. Joseph died at birth due to a difficult breech delivery. The Elder baby died from dysentery. We tidied graves and took comfort in knowing that all will be together again in heaven.
Kalomo town is still charming in the way that small African towns are charming. Little shops with endearing signs and shop keepers eager to sell. The other day we headed to town with our list of ‘wants’ and eventually were able to find most everything. A few things here, and few things there… What has changed is the number of vehicles bumping along the pot-holed streets connecting shops to market to services. It is the most interesting collection of trucks and cars and service, many of which would not be allowed on city streets at home. It is amazing what duct tape can accomplish!
Today we are heading to the larger town of Choma about 60 km north of here. It is now the capitol city of Southern Province. There is a museum in Choma with a pleasant outdoor café for lunch, and there is petrol! Kalomo has been without petrol for over a week and our vehicle is thirsty. We’ll visit Stephanie during her lunch break and run a few errands and return home this afternoon.
We are inspired by those who life here year-round and dig deep to cope with challenges that would drive us mad. They have learned what matters, and what does not matter. We are grateful for their patience with us and for how they teach us. Shepherd and Ruhtt; Wilson and Nancy; Jason and Cintia, Roy and Kathi, Megan; Jackson; Owess; Klaus and Cristiana – and many more!!
Dear family and friends,
Memory is home from the hospital! She feels fine again and ate like the proverbial horse on Friday night. Sometime this week the results from her CT scan will be available and perhaps shed some light on her recurring pains. Meantime, she and Nancy are happy to be home.
Sunday afternoon, after worshipping in classroom 10D, we headed to Livingstone. It is notoriously hot in Livingstone and Sunday afternoon delivered a whopping 44 degrees Celsius. About 15 degrees beyond my personal melting point! We walked slowly and drank coke, water, and lime cordials… Near sundown the fever broke, so to speak, and a good thunder and lightning storm turned down the thermostat. Thank goodness the power held and fans helped us sleep that night. Locals are ‘used’ as they say. Used to the heat and humidity and many still wear suits and jackets while yours truly wilts like leaf lettuce in the sun.
As we were packing to return home this morning Ruhtt watched a snake make its way under the truck. It didn’t slide beneath – rather, it found a home in the under belly of the truck. This is when testosterone and estrogen separate. Ladies at a distance while the gents, including staff at the lodge, banged sticks on wheels, sprayed “Doom” in every crack and crevice and inspected the underside with a flashlight. No sign of our hitchhiker. We may have relocated him to Kalomo today.
….It is Sunday again! Where have the days gone? Rains have been plentiful again this week and as I type the sound of rain falling outside, and drips plopping into buckets inside near the fireplace, are sounds of blessings.
This past week we visited the community of Butale. To reach Butale one must head towards the Boma behind Kalomo, and carry on another 17 kilometers or so. Doesn’t sound far, really, though when factoring in the dreadful road the trip is a tiring hour-long drive. Each direction. Poor vehicle – we did feel sorry for her! Once at Butale we were warmly welcomed by a community eager for improvements to their school. It really does tug at one’s heart to see the school infrastructure – or better stated lack of infrastructure – as one moves away from the hub of Kalomo. We have also learned over the past 10 years that physical infrastructure is the easiest component of a school to put into place. The most challenging is to put learning into a classroom. Finding teachers who care about their pupils and take pride in their work is a challenge. As I type today there are two young teachers sitting in the living room. They are from Butale and they are here because the parents of pupils at Butale were supposed to give them K300 for the month of February. They received K200. So, this morning they hitched a ride to town and are here to complain. Not that they don’t have a complaint – they do – but classrooms are without a teacher today.
As a Board, we ponder over best approaches in these situations. We try to keep out of making decisions ourselves, and instead trust in the wisdom of those who live here. It would be easy to dig out my wallet and pay these gals the balance owing and send them on their way. But often, the easiest solution is not the best way forward. The people at Butale are what we would describe as poor, yet they are survivors. They grow maize, tobacco, ground nuts and sweet potatoes. If I had to live as they do I would last 24 hours, tops. They are resilient and strong – capable of much more than they realize.
It is lovely to live, at least short-term, without television, radio, or internet. This morning, though, the urge to check e-mail took hold and we headed to town. The 7 km road to Kalomo took nearly 30 minutes to navigate. We dodged taxis, bicycles and potholes and said ‘sorry’ to the car a few more times! Returning home we picked up some ladies at the junction to Namwianga. As we drove the 7 km stretch one of the ladies in the back informed us that the woman beside her was bringing a baby for care. I had noticed the bundle on her back and assumed it was hers. It was not. It was the 4 month old baby of her younger sister who passed away last Wednesday. Aunty’s English was not good and my Chitonga equally poor so I called ahead to Wilson and explained the situation. Providentially he was on campus and had time to meet the aunty. Aunty explained that the mother and her husband were working in the field last week when the mother felt something hit her. The husband also reported being hit, but was not badly injured. Could it have been lightening? The baby is lovely and healthy – plump and babbling as 4 month old babies do. She is now on her way home to Dimbwe with a caring aunty and formula – and a plan to feed her until she is about 18 months old. We tucked a few diapers (thank you Paulette!) and baby clothes (thank you Veronica!) into her bag and waved ‘bye’. The little girl is named “Kester” and is the 7th born to her mother. The older six children are now with their grandmother. I am a grandmother, too. I love my grandkids to bits but can’t imagine waking up one day to find that six are coming to live with me full time
A small snake found his way past the front door the other day and Steve quickly swept him out with a broom. Frogs have ventured into the house and met with the same sweep of the broom. The bathroom spider is maintaining his patch by the toilet. All is well.
My complaining teachers have stretched out on the lumpy sofas and are napping….sleeping off the lunch of leftovers produced by yours truly. It is a sweet scene!!