by Athena Boulgarides, ChildFund Development Officer
When ChildFund supporter Dee Barbash and her daughter Brooke Siem organized a festive gathering of friends and fellow ChildFund sponsors in Reno, Nevada, Dec. 28, 2010, they kept one little detail up their sleeves — the honored guest.
The group gathered to ring in the New Year and celebrate the joy of sponsorship. They enjoyed a presentation about ChildFund programs around the world with special emphasis on Zambia since several members of the group currently sponsor children there.
Anne Stilwill flew in from McCall, Idaho, and Sandra Ray Morgan made the trip from Travelers Rest, S.C., to join Joyce Patterson, Allan and Kathy Fox, and Brent and Eleanor Begley from Reno. Eleanor celebrated her 94th birthday with us! And guests were delighted to see their sponsored child’s photo on their dinner place cards, thanks to a thoughtful touch by Dee.
But the biggest surprise of the night came when Dee and Brooke introduced their friends to their former sponsored child Magdalena Krasicka, who was visiting from Poland. Hearts were overflowing as Magdalena shared the compelling story of her challenging childhood in post-communist Poland and the impact that ChildFund programs and Dee’s sponsorship had on her young life. [Note: ChildFund no longer works in Poland.]
“Dee’s letters introduced me to a different world, a better world,” she told the group. “I could not believe that there was a place like America and that there were people like Dee who cared enough to invest in my life.”
As the evening continued, it was my honor to share a special update from ChildFund board member Thomas Weisner, professor of cultural anthropology at UCLA, about his visit to ChildFund programs in Zambia last summer. This helped set the stage for an energetic dialogue about current needs in Zambia and ways the group can work together to do more. The consensus: “Let’s go to Zambia!”
Guest post by Arthur of Zambia
My name is Arthur and I am 15 years old. I am HIV-positive. I tested positive in December 2006. I live in Kafue District of Zambia with my parents, older sister and aunties, and I am enrolled in ChildFund programs.
World AIDS Day is a very important day for me as people the world over come together to show their support for those living with HIV. When AIDS was discovered in the early 1980s, all the people in the world were shocked and filled with fear. A lot of stories trying to explain the cause of this deadly disease were being told.
After much research was done it was discovered that this disease was caused by a virus called HIV, which attacks the human immune system and is found in human blood. It was also discovered that one can get the disease through sexual intercourse, and this caused a lot of stigma and discrimination to the people infected. Eventually, people began to realize that everyone could be affected, as a lot of people were dying from AIDS.
Many children were left orphaned, and people were losing friends and relatives. The world again realized that even if you were not infected you were affected and decided to come together to fight this deadly disease called AIDS. Other discoveries were made on the mode of transmission such as mother-to-child transmission.
To show world unity, people began to commemorate World AIDS Day in December 2000. This is one of the biggest days for people living with HIV because it helps them to feel recognized, accepted and supported. They are not excluded but included.
AIDS has widely spread through six continents and 54 African countries. With so many people affected, there is no reason for a negative attitude toward people who are infected.
World AIDS Day is a day to show love, care and support to people who are infected. Despite AIDS not being curable, medicines have been produced to boost one’s immune system and give hope for the future. If one is infected, it does not mean it’s the end of world. With ARVs (antiretroviral medications), one can live their life to the fullest.
World AIDS Day is a day when the infected and the affected can celebrate the end of stigma and discrimination and continue fighting the good fight of faith. One day, we will win.
Reporting by ChildFund Africa
As with most successful projects, this one in Zambia began with the community coming together.
Parents in the Mumbwa district’s Shikapoli community started talking about their children’s future. They agreed their children needed more preparation before starting primary school. With 15 children age 3-6, the community found a teacher and temporarily set up class in a church compound in 2006.
When the church could no longer accommodate the school, the parents didn’t give up, instead they moved the children under a large mango tree. As the pre-school continued under the tree, the Parent Committee continued discussing other options. They approached the chief of the community, who, after some convincing, gave a plot of land to build a permanent pre-school.
With the help of a government child development agency and ChildFund Zambia, the parents were able to build a one-room school. ChildFund Germany donated materials for a playground. Soon attendance increased, and enrollment reached 45 students (25 girls and 20 boys). Children attend class daily from 8 a.m. until noon. The school is not able to provide snacks, but a few children bring drinks from home sometimes.
ChildFund ensured that the teacher received the necessary training to teach pre-school. Initially, the teacher received a minimal monthly salary from parents’ contributions to the school. But some of the parents are not able to make their monthly contributions of US$2, which means the teacher is not receiving a regular monthly salary. What motivates her to continue even when she is not paid? Giving support to her community gives her happiness, she says. She knows what it means for children to be without schooling.
Though they are happy to reach the stage they are at now — from the shade of a tree to a classroom — the Shikapoli Parent Committee notes that challenges still remain. The number of pre-school children is increasing, and the single classroom does not provide enough space or desks to accommodate all of the students who wish to enroll. In addition, the school lacks water and restroom facilities.
Once again community parents are coming together to address the school’s financial constraints. They are discussing how to approach the government and possibly other nongovernment organizations to fill the funding gaps. They are committed to keeping the school going for their children.
In Zambia, 78 percent of the rural population lives on less than $1 a day, says Ely Keita, ChildFund’s National Director for Zambia. The impact of HIV/AIDS has heightened pressures on poor families. To help reverse the extreme poverty in this country, ChildFund programs are focusing on educational opportunities, health services and livelihood training for youth.
Hear more from Ely in this video interview:
by Priscilla Chama, ChildFund Zambia
In Zambia’s Kafue district, the Tithandizane community is home to numerous children who come from broken homes or live in child-headed households. Some have never heard a kind or encouraging word. They grow up feeling unloved and, likewise, fail to show love or appreciation to others.
Fortunately, many of them have joined the ChildFund Children’s Committee in Kafue.
Observing the lack of positive reinforcement in these children’s lives, committee leaders sat down to find a way of reassuring each child just how precious and valuable he or she is.
In the game known as Mutayilepo (“give it to her/him”), each child receives a blank piece of paper on which to write his or her name. The paper is then passed on to other children who are asked to anonymously write on the flipside one good thing they would remember about that particular individual.
At the end of the exercise, the children receive their original piece of paper and read all the good things written about them by their peers. This activity helps children feel appreciated and valued, and they become motivated to develop better relationships with each other.
“I come from a broken home, was abused and totally lacked confidence in myself,” says Auxilia. “After joining the committee and participating in this game, I feel very much appreciated and it has helped me to love myself again.”
by Virginia Sowers
It’s amazing what people can accomplish when they work together.
In just three months, 22 generous ChildFund supporters have raised $62,588 to reduce malaria in Zambia, feed malnourished children in Kenya and bring fresh water to rural communities in Timor Leste.
These supporters likely will never cross paths, but they all shared a common quest through Fund a Project, which identifies critical needs in ChildFund program countries.
For the project in Nambala, Zambia, five ChildFund contributors and one major donor have put up more than $41,000 for malaria prevention and education. The program will significantly increase the number of treated bed nets in Nambala. A much larger trained force of malaria agents will also educate households on prevention and management.
In Kenya, ChildFund’s successful Pamoja nutritional support program will continue and expand to the Mukuru informal settlement in Nairobi, thanks to the generosity of a major donor and 10 contributors who gave more than $18,000.
The program will supplement the nutritional needs and reduce the levels of malnutrition in preschool children within the settlement. Funds will also cover the costs of transporting and distributing the supplement, employing cooks to properly prepare foods for the children and monitoring children’s progress to ensure the reversal of malnutrition.
In Timor Leste, children will no longer have to walk up to 40 minutes to reach a source of potable water and then carry a supply home to their families. With more than $2,800 from five contributors, ChildFund will be providing a nearby source of clean water for approximately 15 rural families. Without such long treks for water, children will have more time to study, play and help with other family chores.
All three projects should be under way this spring and summer.
More worthy projects await funding. So, what else can we do together?
By Chola Chifukushi
During the first 10 years of the country’s independence, Zambians of all walks of life participated in the annual independence celebrations, which were characterized by dancing, eating and other forms of merrymaking. The government then used Independence Day as a time to engage children and youth in many social and cultural activities as a way of identifying and promoting their various talents in sports, music and dance as well as other creative activities. Children and youth were also taught the virtues of being a good Zambian citizen. During this day, the government also promoted feeding programs in schools, as a means of improving children’s nutrition.
“Our government made independence celebrations a joy for all, as it marks a memorable day in the history of our country,” says 75-year-old John, a former counselor during the UNIP (United National Independence Party) Government. “Our policy of inclusive participation in the celebrations of independence especially for young people was based on the understanding that the future of Zambia lies in the children and youth of the country,” he notes, adding that the country should not lose sight of this premise.
However, over the years, the diminishing economic fortunes of the country have made it difficult for Zambia to continue with the celebration of independence in the manner it was originally celebrated. Today, very few children and youth, if any, participate in the celebrations of their country’s independence. The anniversary has now become a symbolic gesture restricted to few people fortunate enough to be invited to the statehouse, where the president hosts some dignitaries and cadres, mostly from the ruling party.
It is therefore no surprise that although Zambia’s independence forms part of the curriculum for both primary and secondary schools, very few young people know well the facts and figures about their country. For some children like Taonga, a 10-year-old student at a private school in Lusaka, Independence Day is only a “holiday.”
“Teacher only told us that Independence Day is usually a holiday,” Taonga says innocently.
As a part of its strategy to help children understand some significant days on their country’s calendar, ChildFund Zambia plans to start holding community-based celebrations on days like Independence Day. It is envisioned that once implemented, such a strategy would contribute to the preservation of Zambia’s historic heritage as well as contributing to bringing up knowledgeable children, thus contributing to ChildFund’s achieving two core outcomes — educated and confident children as well as skilled and involved youth.
For more information about our work in Zambia, click here.
More on Zambia
Population: 11.5 million
ChildFund beneficiaries: More than 810,000 children and families
Did You Know?: Zambia’s national flag holds much symbolism: Green represents the country’s abundant natural resources; red symbolizes the blood that was shed during the liberation; black stands for the people of Zambia; orange represents the country’s rich mineral deposits; and the eagle is the national symbol of unity and Zambia’s resolve to “rise” above all social, political, economic and other challenges.
What’s next: Timor-Leste, where independence is still quite new.
By David Hylton,
Public Relations Specialist
In July we thanked you for following us on Twitter; now hear it from those you helped – a family in Zambia. A couple of months ago on Twitter we promised to send items from our Gifts of Love and Hope catalog to areas that needed them the most – for every 200 followers during the campaign, one gift would be given from an anonymous donor who went above their usual giving amount.
As part of our campaign, we promised to share with you video of children and families receiving those gifts. After a small delay, videos have arrived back at our International Office in Richmond, Va.
The first video features Phiri, chairman of a goat restocking group in Zambia who talks about the benefits of goats to the families. These goats will help a family make money that can be used for school uniforms and provide nutritious food and milk. Also on this first video are Cement and Mary with some of their grandchildren thanking you – our Twitter followers – for helping provide the goats. Cement and Mary have seven children and 10 grandchildren.
In addition to the goats in Zambia, the other gifts made possible from the Twitter campaign are two sets of chickens in The Gambia; three sets of 15 grafted mango trees for Kenya; and three sets of vegetable seeds in Ethiopia. Once we receive additional footage, we will share it with you.
Once again we want to thank everyone for following us on Twitter (@ChildFund) and helping make a difference in the lives of these children and their families.
By David Hylton,
Public Relations Specialist
It has taken just a little longer than we anticipated, but the gifts for children and families in four African countries made possible by our Twitter campaign in July are in transit.
To give you a brief recap, the Twitter campaign worked like this: every 200 followers @ChildFund received during two weeks in July meant a gift from our Gifts of Love and Hope catalog to one of the countries. The gifts were made possible by an anonymous donor who went above their usual giving amount. You can read more about our campaign here.
When the campaign ended July 27, we had more than 2,200 followers, which meant 11 gifts. Two sets of chickens are now headed to a school in The Gambia; three goats are going to families in Zambia; three sets of 15 grafted mango trees will be planted in Kenya; and three sets of vegetable seeds will soon arrive in Ethiopia.
These donations are about much more than the actual item. Each item represents a livelihood for a family, income, responsibility, and, most importantly, an opportunity for a brighter future thanks to each of you.
Small video cameras have already been shipped to The Gambia and Zambia and we expect footage from those areas in the coming weeks. As the videos arrive back in our U.S. headquarters in Richmond, Va., we will share them with you. Due to delivery issues to remote parts of the world and technology issues with slow Internet connections in many areas where we work, getting information from our program areas takes time and patience from everyone involved.
Thanks to everyone for following and helping to change the lives of 11 children and their families.
For more information about ChildFund International, visit www.ChildFund.org.
By David Hylton,
Public Relations Specialist
Thank you, thank you, thank you! We can’t say it enough! On July 10 when we launched our Twitter campaign, we didn’t quite know what to expect. We knew we’d get a lot of new followers, but perhaps we underestimated the generosity of people out there. For everyone who lent a hand in this – THANK YOU!
As the campaign ended at noon today, we had more than 2,200 followers – that’s 11 gifts to help deprived, excluded and vulnerable children and families in The Gambia, Zambia, Kenya and Ethiopia. (For more information on the campaign and how it worked, click here to read our initial post and here when we reached 1,500 followers.)
Now that this campaign is over, what’s next? Thanks to anonymous donors who are going above their usual giving amount for this campaign, children and families will receive the following gifts:
• Chickens for a school in The Gambia
• A goat for a family farm in Zambia
• Mango trees in Kenya
• Vegetable seeds in Ethiopia
Over the next few days, we will ship the items to the program areas so they can be put to immediate use. During this process, we are working with ChildFund International employees in those countries to film video and take pictures so that you can see how following us on Twitter helped children living in poverty. It’s a commitment from us to hold an accountable dialogue with you.
We expect this process may take a couple of months to complete. Due to delivery issues to remote parts of the world and technology issues with slow Internet connections in many areas where we work, getting information from our program areas takes time and patience from everyone involved.
Now that the Twitter campaign is over, it certainly doesn’t mean that our presence there is disappearing. We’ll continue to post updates about ChildFund, answer questions followers may have, retweet others’ posts on topics we find relevant and much more. This campaign is only the beginning of our conversation.