July’s Calendar of HOPE photograph features one of the orphan students of the Quarry School. On the day the picture was taken in May 2016, 86 students were in class and lunch was being prepared for everyone. It was a typical day at the school. As the photograph captures, students were happy and glad to be getting their education.
Recent days at the school have not been so carefree. Vandals and thugs from the area have targeted the school. The school’s water pump has been damaged beyond repair. The threat of violence has affected many orphans so school attendance has dropped from 86 to 30. School leadership is struggling to regroup to meet the needs of so many orphans that have no other opportunity to attend class.
Project HOPE is working closely with Widows International, our project leaders who run the school, to remedy the situation, get a security wall built and continue providing education for orphans. There is much work to be done. Project HOPE is trying to secure additional funds to solve these issues. It is going to take time to fix everything but local leadership and resources are being lined up to help bring stability to the Quarry School.
Please remember our project leaders and the orphans who attend the school. With your help we can save the Quarry School and ensure vulnerable children are given the hope of a future through education.
Four years in the making, over 100 local people from twelve different churches in Chipata were welcomed to the Family Centre for the start of the Chipata Community Impact Project. The project, aimed at reaching widows and orphans in the compounds surrounding Chipata, started with these people joining for three days of intensive training.
Geoff and Martha Muvumbo, Project HOPE’s partners in Chipata, hosted the gathering. Working with Executive Director Christopher Graves, the Muvumbo’s and the rest of the local leadership team, spent a year assembling the community care teams in preparation for the launch of this five year pilot project. “Geoff and I spent many years gearing up for this significant project” Graves said recently “without this incredible partnership with all the local churches this would not be possible”. The overwhelming numbers of widows and orphans in the nine compounds of Chipata lack any voice or advocate in the community. Hundreds of kids are just existing without school, connection or hope. The Muvumbo’s and Project HOPE knew they had to find a solution to start making an impact in the lives of so many vulnerable people and after much searching the Chipata Community Impact Project came to life.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us” commented Geoff Muvumbo “but Project HOPE and our leadership team, along with the many hands participating as community care teams has ignited a lot of excitement to start reaching the compounds”.
461 students and counting. That is an increase from 412 and another 150 still to be added. The classes are stacked with kids and there are three shifts of classes each day. The same five dedicated teachers volunteer to teach all these orphans. Still they want to add another 150 that would mean every orphan in the area would be in school.
It is a daunting task but the teachers are determined. The feeding program is still humming along but more plates, spoons and cups need to be added to meet the numbers and the rising cost of food in Zambia has put pressure on keeping up.
The joy at this school is infectious and children are doing very well in their studies. The commitment of the teachers continues to be a huge encouragement. There is much work to be done and we need resources to meet all the needs but the Saikalo School is caring for orphans and providing excellent education.
The promise was made last year. A 90th birthday party complete with a cake. That was the deal and Project HOPE Executive Director Christopher Graves made good on that promise. Louisa, a widow that Project HOPE has worked with for many years, celebrated her 90th birthday. Born in 1927 in Lusaka, she grew up in various areas before settling in Chipata with her husband, a prominent doctor.
Her husband passed away many years ago and Louisa set up house on a farm outside Kasama, Zambia. Over the years she has cared for countless orphans and widows dying of HIV-Aids. In the photo with her is one of the orphans she adopted when he was just young and now he, his wife and two boys still live with her. Together they maintain the farm and care for many other vulnerable people. Louisa has been an inspiration and steady encouragement to Christopher for the past seven years.
At the end of every meeting Christopher would say to Louisa “see you next time” to which she would reply “no, I’ll be dead before you get back”. Last year, knowing her 90th birthday would be in 2017, Christopher again said to Louisa “see you next year” to which she made her usual reply. This time though he told her “you have to be here since I am bringing you a birthday cake”. Several times through the year Louisa asked Francis Chileshe, Project HOPE’s manager in this region, if that cake was coming. He assured her Christopher would keep his promise and just recently the party was held. Cake, candles and lots of laughter.
This time before Christopher could tell her he would see her next time Louisa told him “you better promise to come to my funeral”. Again laughter all around but Christopher told her “I think we’ll be celebrating a few more birthdays first!”