One of the projects that we partner with in Zambia is the fantastic Nsobe School established by Fiona Tomlinson. Below is the latest update that we have received from them.
Thank you for your support of Nsobe Community School, enabling us to keep on educating our community’s children, despite lockdown and the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19.
All schools in Zambia closed in March, and we have been waiting for the impact of COVID-19 to hit us – so far so good, although there is little testing and reporting so it is difficult to know where Zambia really stands with infected cases and related deaths. Currently our stats are showing only 42 deaths. There has been no lockdown and very few basic restrictions besides schools, bars and churches closing – all shops are still open, crammed intercity public buses travelling and packed local markets servicing the grassroots who need to trade each day to survive and feed their families. There is no social distancing being practised in most areas, masks are worn only in the formal urban shops and public areas, but mostly around the chin with the mouth and nose exposed! In the rural areas people are living as they always have - and we can only hope that our outdoor living, young sparse population, and robust immune systems can keep us safe. Thankfully our area has had no reported cases and everyone we know is still as healthy as life within poor rural subsistence living allows. Our big worry is that the malaria meds and HIV ARV’s are not getting to the clinics, which potentially is a much greater worry here.
As a school we are deeply concerned about our vulnerable rural students not being in school and besides not progressing academically, not receiving the interested care, support and nutrition that the school and our loving teachers provide. Coming to school each day gives them a focus and peers and teachers to be accountable to, or to share troubles with. Without a constant full school day, children are free to roam the villages and markets unsupervised. We fear for an escalation of drop outs, experimenting with drinking and drugs, pregnancy, and general demotivation and loss of hope.
To try and combat this we have initially held outdoor classes for critical grades (3, 6, 7, 9) in small village homegroups, but it is impossible for us to cover all grades in this manner while respecting COVID-19 preventative and precautionary measures with mask wearing, social distancing, and handwashing.
Our teachers continue to put a lot of effort into preparing and handing out learning worksheets and materials so that our children can continue to study as none of them have access to any online platform, TV or books at home.
From the 1st of June exam classes (grade 7 and 9) have been permitted back in school and are taught in smaller class shifts, and our outdoor learning for other grades continues. We doubt that school will be permitted to fully reopen until September. Nsobe Community School is most grateful to Teacher Aid and all our donors for faithfully continuing with support, despite times being tough for all, that has enabled us to continue to pay our teachers and offer extra home support (food hampers and clothing) to our most vulnerable children.
Through Teacher Aid and Wales for Africa, using our Solar Computer Lab, we have recently held a 2 week computer training for students and staff with Camara. Camara gave very valuable training, upskilling both our students and teaching staff, and installing valuable ICT and Maths learning packages that the students can access to learn and boost their own learning and skills for their exams and life.
This slower time has allowed us to get stuck into building projects, and we have been very blessed to have a number of projects through awarded grants all going on at the same time. The Beit Trust has funded the building of a Dining and Assembly Hall. Rotary International has nearly completed our first ever flushable water borne ablution block (toilets, urinals and showers!) at our secondary school. Reece Projects and Seeds of Hope Australia have sunk a borehole and installed a solar water pump and massive tank stand that will supply the water needs for the secondary school, teacher housing, feeding scheme and sports ground, plus donated a container from our Australian friends which was full of preloved clothing and other goodies for our children and community. Beyond Ourselves Charity have funded a single teacher accommodation unit housing four teachers. Our final secondary school 4 classroom block build (to complete our School up to Grade 12) will begin soon funded by Diaconie PKN Drunen and Wilde Gansen and our Irish friends of Cuala.
We are determined to continue building and upgrading the ways in which we can teach, and uplift our community’s children and keep them safe and engaged in their education and potential. Our next projects that we are currently writing grants and seeking funding for are Safe Houses, Vocational Workshops and a Primary School Ablution Block.
We feel the need is great to provide Safe Houses to accommodate some of our most vulnerable teenage girls to ensure that they are given the support, care and protection they need in order to complete school and guarantee their educated futures. Through Teacher Aid and TWAM we will be receiving a number of sewing machines and carpentry equipment thus Vocational workshops are needed so we can increase the skills and practical learning to allow our students the tools and capabilities to create their own incomes through hands on skills training. It would be wonderful for our Primary school to have a hygenic water borne ablution system as currently all out toilets are pit latrines.
Thank you for helping us to continue to build our school and educate and care for our community’s children for a brighter future.
With gratitude and best wishes
On behalf of the teachers and children of Nsobe Community School.