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Malama Project - February 2017

Malama Basic School is located in a remote part of Southern Province, Zambia, about 60km from Pemba. There are 820 pupils attending the school, 335 girls and 485 boys. The catchment area is in a very deprived part of Zambia where most families struggle to make ends meet and they cannot afford to buy books or basic school provisions for their children.

Before receipt of funding from the INTO Solidarity Fund, there was a severe shortage of books and one book was being shared by eight pupils. There was only one teacher’s handbook for each subject which was shared by 3 teachers who waited in turn to use it.

The school had no sports equipment and the teachers found it very difficult to occupy the children at recreation time.

A grant of €2,500 was lodged by the INTO Solidarity Fund to our charity’s bank account on 11th October 2016. This money was sent to Zambia by electronic bank transfer the following day. The excitement was uncontrollable among the pupils and teachers when they heard the good news that their school had been awarded a grant. It was like a dream come true for them.

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Sr Macrina Lyaunda, Project Manager, immediately got to work planning a date for the shopping trip to buy the schoolbooks and sports equipment. The three people selected for this task were Fr. Michael Walsh C.S.Sp., Sr. Macrina Lyaunda and Mrs.Estelle Chiyombwe, a Companion (Caregiver) for the OVO Malama center. The three set out for Lusaka on the 15th November, 2016 to buy the books at Longman Zambia Education Publishers, Lusaka. The trip to Lusaka went well, without any problems.

On the 18th November 2016 Fr. Michael, Sr Macrina and Teddy Nyawali, a Companion from the OVO Spiritan Centre, set off for Malama Basic School to deliver the books and sport attire. It was scorching hot as the rainy season had not yet started. The road to Malama was full of stones, pot holes and sharp stumps of cut trees. The journey was not easy, and it was fortunate that Fr. Michael was a good jungle driver, well experienced from driving on these bad Zambian roads for more than forty years.

As luck would have it, the car developed a puncture on the right rear tyre when it was torn by a sharp stump of a tree which was just barely visible, protruding above the road surface. It was very difficult to remove the spare wheel which was jammed because it was such a long time since it was last changed. The tool for removing the spare wheel broke in two as Teddy and Fr. Michael were working with it. The area had no mobile phone network so it was not possible to call for assistance. The sun was hot and there was no shade to provide shelter. Finally, they managed to get phone network coverage by climbing the highest tree in the area. They called a mechanic from Pemba. When the mechanic eventually arrived, he did not have a suitable tool for the job and he struggled in vain to remove the spare wheel. News of the problem had spread and four men from the area came to help. Four hours later they managed to break the chain that was holding the spare wheel in place and the punctured wheel was replaced. A very tired trio eventually arrived at Malama School at 5.30pm, four and a half hours later than scheduled.

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They were met by a large group of children waiting expectantly with their teachers and local people, all dancing away, waiting to receive the team of shoppers with their precious cargo. They did not give up and had stayed hopeful despite the long delay. The children danced and danced in excitement. The principal teacher expressed his thanks to the INTO on behalf of the teachers and pupils of Malama school and he spoke of the difference the new books and sports equipment would make to the school. The local community also expressed their gratitude in words and dance.

Sr Macrina, Project Manager, reported that the visit to Malama Basic School was very touching, because the children had waited until it was almost dark without losing hope. It was a moment of jubilation, happiness and thanksgiving for the books and sports attire. It was like the sun was rising instead of setting down to bring on the darkness. It was a memorable experience to see the smiling bright faces of the children; it gave them hope for the future and at that moment anything seemed possible. After the speeches and dancing, the children, teachers and local people walked back to their homes in the dark. There was no complaint. The weary team of shoppers returned to Pemba, where they arrived around 22:30pm, looking forward to a good night’s sleep.

The staff and pupils of Malama School are very happy with the changes that have taken place in the school since receiving the INTO Solidarity Grant.

  • There are more books to share among the children so learning is not such a struggle anymore.
  • Each of the teachers has his/her own Teacher’s Guide so there is no need to waste time while waiting for a book to become available. This makes the process of teaching so much easier for the staff.
  • The pupils take great pride in the new books. They are showing a greater interest in their schoolwork and there is a noticeable improvement in the standard of their work.
  • Before the sports equipment and attire were purchased, the children had little to occupy them at recreation time and they tended to just stand around the school yard. They are now excited at the prospect of being involved in team sports and staff have observed that this has helped the children to socialise better with each other.
  • Some of the less academic children are proving to be good at sport and they have grown in confidence as a result.
  • Staff members have commented that the children are concentrating better in class and they believe this is because of increased sports activity.
  • Because they are proud of their sports attire, the children can now look forward to sports competition with nearby schools without fear of embarrassment.
  • In the long term, increased sports activity should result in improved physical and mental health among the children.

Mwapona Project - October 2014

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Construction of the two double pit latrines has been completed and they have been a necessary and very welcome addition to Mwapona Choma Primary School, Southern Province, Zambia. The School has asked us to convey its sincere gratitude for the grant awarded to build the two ventilated improved pit latrines.

The school principal reported as follows on 19th September 2014:

It was providence that the INTO grant for construction of the new pit latrines came when it did. Pupil numbers in our school have increased to 826 and having only 2 pit latrines in the school for all these children was a big problem. When the school reopened for term 3, the two old pit latrines were not in good condition and needed to be cleaned and disinfected to make them usable.

The new pit latrines have made a big difference to the school and the children all wanted to use them. However, priority was given to the younger children, especially those attending the pre-school and grades one, two and three. This is because they are more vulnerable to infection.

Ideally, the school should have 16 double latrines and it is hoped that in time, more will be built. In the meantime, the situation at the school has been greatly relieved. The new latrines were built to the specification recommended by the Ministry of Education. They are far superior to the older latrines and the fact that they are ventilated is a big bonus. The internal finishes are smoother and this facilitates cleaning. For this reason, infection control should be greatly improved.

There is great joy and jubilation among the children when they first saw the new toilets. Our school is indebted to the INTO donors for their generosity in providing us with this new facility.

Some comments from the children:
“Thank God for those who have donated for us-bless them.”
“It is nice to go into a clean toilet.”
“I never wanted to go to toilets because of stinking”
“School was bad because of dirty toilets”
“I want to learn to where toilets are enough and good.”
“Sickness is what I fear in dirty toilets.”
“Mummy tells me dirty toilets cause diseases like, cholera, am afraid I may get cholera from the the dirty toilets.”

Mwapona Project - May 2014

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The Spiritan Zambia Orphan Fund was delighted when, on 20th May 2014, it received €2,000 under the INTO Solidarity Grant scheme. This money will be used to construct one double latrine at Mwapona Community Primary School, Choma, Zambia. The money was transferred to Zambia on 22nd May and construction is due to start immediately. This school, which has 710 pupils, many of whom are orphaned, is located in a very deprived part of Zambia. Currently, there are 2 pit latrines, each with 2 holes. One is shared by the 317 boys and 20 teachers (both male and female). The second is used by the 393 girls. This is totally inadequate to cater for the needs of the school. Unsanitary conditions pose an infection control problem as overuse leads to serious difficulties keeping the latrines clean. Cholera and Dysentery are a problem, particularly in rainy weather. In all, sixteen double pit latrines are required by the school.

The cost of construction of one double latrine is approx. €1.827 so there will a surplus of aprox. €173. The charity has decided to add to this the balance (approx. €1,654) required in order to construct a second pit latrine. The school management has decided that the new latrines should be designated for use by the children in the younger grades as they are the most vulnerable to infection.

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