The Easter weekend was a 4-day break. Due to the schools opening later this year, the school holidays did not begin until 23. April and last only 2 weeks instead of the usual 4 weeks. Therefore, we decided not to do the normal workshops but during the last week of school, the teachers and some visitors gave talks about certain important topics like peer pressure, dangers of social media, child marriages and pregnancies as well as alcohol and drug abuse. Our new maths and IT teacher, Ernest has done well during his first month with us and learnt what we at FCTrelief are aiming to do – there is far more involved than just teaching the pupils and he is impressed and very happy to be part of the team.
A stove for the wedding
Our English teacher and guidance counsellor, Racheal was married on 17th April to a fine young man she has known for a long time. FCT relief presented her with a stove for her new home and she and her husband, Danny are delighted with this gift.
On the Monday after the wedding, Tabea organised a card for all the staff and pupils to sign and a large cake as a surprise, so that everyone present could have a piece and congratulate her – she was delighted and wrote us a lovely thank you card.
The fate of the girls
Racheal has been a great help with various issues we have had with some of our older girls. I spoke on Zoom to our grade 12 girls, to encourage them to stay on course and be sure to do their best in their leaving certificate so that they are able to move on in life and achieve their career goals. We have a strong group of 20 grade 12 pupils this year and high expectations for them. They all know what they would like to do after leaving us and some will be grateful for our support for further education. 3 younger girls, despite all the talks Racheal had with them, were starting to be a bad influence on the others so sadly we had to part ways with them and can only hope they will find their way in future. It is always a challenge but the pull of life in the compound is real. In the end, it is their choice. Often the home situation and poverty are to blame and the girls especially should just find work or get married, so they are no longer a burden. Like this, the cycle of poverty will never be broken.
One of our new girls, Liness, was sent to live with her aunt, who did not want her, by her mother who could not afford to keep her, meaning she was in a very vulnerable position. Tabea took her to the vocational training school – Chikupi, where 2 girls started this January. There was a place for her to join the class and she was delighted to have this chance of a new home and to learn dressmaking like the other two. We gave her some clothes and underwear, as relatives had stolen most of her things, as well as food and bedding for her stay at the boarding facilities. This is clearly the best option for Liness and she deserves this chance.
Liness (left) with Stella and Bester, who is holding a top she made!
Visitors from Switzerland
During the last week of term, Tabea’s sister Hanna and her husband Manuel came to visit FCTrelief while on holiday in Zambia. They are both teachers and gave an interesting lesson on dental health care and showed the pupils how to clean their teeth properly. They brought the pupils toothbrushes and toothpaste, which were greatly appreciated. The pupils always enjoy these visits and talks, which help to open their horizons.
Success with five meals
On the last Saturday before the holidays, all the guardians/parents were asked to come to the plot in Linda, for the first distributions of the year. Firstly, those pupils who are now in the second year with us received a new mattress and cover, as most of them were sleeping on mats on the floor or sharing an old mattress with siblings. A good night’s sleep is so important and the pupils really appreciate the new mattresses. Eugene explained clearly that these are not to be sold (for food) or used by anyone else!
Then all the other pupils and guardians arrived for a talk by Eugene and Tabea, to encourage the guardians to support the children with their schooling and explain what we are doing to help them. They were given a food package each – 25 kg of mealie meal, 2 kg rice, 1 kg salt and 500 ml cooking oil. This is always greatly appreciated and helps the whole family.
Everything in Zambia has become much more expensive in the last year or two and families are really struggling to survive and “make ends meet”. The fact that all the staff and the pupils have 5 good meals a week with FCTrelief is making a huge difference to them and the teachers see a big improvement in the health and concentration of the children – this was an important step in the right direction.