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Zambia Field Trip

Zambia Field Trip

Crusaid and Wig Party Monitoring and Evaluation Visit (2009)

In September Josh Rafter (Wig Party Chairman, MD of Outlet) and Steven Inman (Crusaid Head of Programmes and Partnerships) flew to Zambia to meet with the communities on the ground that are going to be supported by the Wig Party’s generous  support and to visit new proposed projects for the coming year.

The first half of the first day was a chance to meet the significant players in Zambia.  Meetings were held with the national coalition for people living with HIV and AIDS as well as government and voluntary agencies who represent community needs across the area that we have identified to support.  From here we attended a meeting with the Director of ZNAN who recently undertook a fact-finding visit to support the projects work.  At this meeting she was able to present her findings and provide reports of the community and the focus groups work held on our behalf.  To round off these meetings we met with the Country Director for Action Aid to look at a partnership working in the region and plan the best way to maximise our long-term investment.

The second part of the day was more hands on, and a real chance to meet the people we are hoping to support.  We journeyed out to meet James and his wife Nahlia.  James is a lab technician in an HIV clinic in Lusaka, with facilities and resources to support 50 people a day. However in reality they actually test and support 300 people every day, 6 days a week.  Nahlia is a nurse and she provides home visits to local people too ill to make it to a clinic or hospital.  Together they have turned their house into an orphanage.  They started by taking in a child whose parents had both passed away suddenly to AIDS and now they have 23 children in a small cramped space.  They use what money they can pull together to feed and cloth the children and to pay for a part time teacher to ensure the children do not fall behind on their schoolwork

“The only hope children in Zambia have is to get an education.  They will be the future of our country, if we are to have a future”

Nahlia

The biggest problem for the house is that they have a small two ring cooker, limited clean water and no real storage facilities.  Three of the children now need to take HIV treatments themselves and there is nowhere to store the medicine efficiently.  The first thing that strikes you about the house, as indeed everywhere you travel in Zambia is that through the adversity, the poverty and the devastation HIV and AIDS is reeking on the community, everyone smiles. As James said “Life is too short to be miserable”

Crusaid and the Wig Party are looking to see if we can replace their kitchen with a usable and safe stove, storage facilities, a fridge and a water filtration system.  Small steps but making a significant difference.
The journey from Lusaka (Zambia’s capital) to Katete, is approximately 6 hours by car along roads which in places are well maintained but on the whole are worn out tracks with well hidden potholes.  Along the way you pass countless shells of cars and trucks which have fallen victim to the poor road infrastructure.  This unfortunately is the same system that people must use to access legal meetings, employment, healthcare and economic survival.  A real challenge for one and all!

Once in Katete we had a number of visits to make.  We spent time with the staff and directors of Tikondane, a residential community site that is at the centre of the community.  Tikondane provides schooling and adult learning classesdas well as income generation projects and cultural teaching programmes.  Discussions were held around the ways in which we might support their growing HIV responses in a way that best suits the community.

We visited St Francis hospital, a large mission hospital which does tremendous work across a vast area but in harsh circumstances.  We met with the director and discussed her biggest fears for the future.  Perhaps the saddest of these is the need for schooling for the ever-growing number of children orphaned by AIDS and facing a bleak future.  It costs just £80 to clothe and send a child to school for a year.  Currently Crusaid and the Wig Party are looking at how we might set up an educational response as part of the Point of Light scheme to put a significant number of these children through school and thus secure them and the area with a brighter future.

The main emphasis of the visit was to spend time with the numerous landowners, contractors and communities who will become the backbone of the Katete Point of Light project.  We spent time with the children and their families, talked though what they want to see, what they need, what are their dreams for the future and how we can we help them to achieve those dreams.  We met with the local Zambian Network for Positive People and discussed with them the security of our project and the setting up of income generating schemes so that the programme can become self-sustaining and grow to its full potential.

Finally from here we went to meet with the District Health Commissioner and the UNAIDS Director for Zambia.  This was the chance to get political and government approval and support for our programme.  They were more than happy to endorse the programme and even cancelled meetings so as to travel with us to the proposed site and meet the community members.

Now back in the UK and starting the task of making these plans a reality we continue to be struck by the joy and the “true community” of Zambia.  Gone are the images of bygone days where charities pushed photos of children with distended stomachs, barren fields and adults dying in the street.  Zambia is indicative of a new and vitalised Africa.  Communities ready to step up to the plate to educate, learn and build sustainable futures for existing and new generations.  The only thing they need is support.  There is a will to succeed that hits you from every angle and makes you both excited and proud to be a part of their journey.

Every penny donated to support points of light in Zambia is an investment in the communities’ future and one which having visited first hand we know will not be wasted.

Dontaions can still be made on line at: www.justgiving.com/wigparty

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