Despatch number 5
Wednesday 24 May.
On my last trip Stephens two dogs managed to keep up a barking symphony most of the night, now they have developed a constant howl which would not have been out of place in the Hound of the Baskervilles – sleep what sleep?
Today was spent visiting two of the four primary schools in our area where the orphans are being educated. Starting at Chambawa Primary where we have 10 children attending it is not surprising the results are so poor. An uninspiring head who only has 3 teachers and himself, trying to educate 300 children ranging from grade 1 to 7. I say this because there are 2 reasonable classrooms, a church converted into a classroom and a grass hut. Teaching is done in shifts with mixed grades in lessons with periods of 4 hours between changeovers. That the school managed to achieve 27 out of 30 exam passes for children in grade 7 at the end of the first term is nothing short of a miracle. The last time this school was visited by a government education official was 2013! I left the school feeling really despondent and so sorry for the lack of official support.
Onto Kalembe Primary which is a beacon of hope. An outstanding head and deputy and three other teachers plus 3 unpaid community assistants. Again we have 10 orphans attending and in most cases they are doing reasonably well. The head had them all in the office for a pep talk but from my point of view I wanted them to recognise my admiration for the teachers. Again government support was dire with the last official visit in 2014. Considering both schools are less than 25 miles from the capital of the province does not provide an excuse except for the diabolical tracks to get to these schools. I had received a comment from the education department that the house we
had built at Myzangulu primary was on the small side and so wanted to see what the government provided. I leave you to draw your own conclusions from the comparative pictures below! This subject is a difficult one as my vision for Zoe was an orphan programme and I don’t want to get drawn into peripheral issues but the quality of the schooling has an impact on the children who are so kindly sponsored by you folk in U.K. Equally the quality of the water the children drink is diabolical if there is no borehole and if the water source is miles away from the village they live in you can bet if water needs to be collected it is those at the bottom of the “pecking” order who do it – the orphan. Further, clean water has an incredibly important impact on good health. Equally the initiative to form cooperatives and grow vegetables for local consumption and sale and ginger to fund these projects benefits the orphan families who are so desperately poor. It’s Freedom day tomorrow (Thursday) so administration, budget planning and a rest before we visit the remaining 2 schools on Friday.