Medical treatments are often unpleasant and yet a privilege. Memory, for example, has to have a tooth pulled. Tabea Kusongwa reports.

In September we wrote about the yearly health check that showed us what treatment various pupils needed.

Dental floss as a new discovery

October 5th was Teacher’s Day, which is one of the many Zambia Bank holidays, and we took the opportunity for 2 pupils, Felix and Memory to go to the dentist. We had made appointments for them in advance and were lucky that there was a special 50% discount on almost all services that week.


Felix and Memory needed their teeth cleaned and X-rayed to see which cavities needed filling.


Felix needed 3 fillings and the dentist noticed that he must be using toothpicks to clean his teeth, as the gaps between his teeth were quite big. Memory, who joined FCT sponsorship programme in January, had a large cavity in one back tooth, after biting on a Guava stone 2 years previously. The dentist recommended a root canal treatment or tooth extraction. One week later we returned for Felix to have the 3 fillings and Memory to have her tooth extracted as we had decided that the root canal treatment was too expensive for our budget. Because Memory was in so much pain, we had no choice but to have the tooth removed.

Apparently, it is common for people in Linda compound to clean their teeth with a toothpick or something similar as they grow up because they often do not have toothbrushes or toothpaste. Upon asking our pupils and teachers if they knew what dental floss was, they did not know it even existed! About 3 weeks later, I was able to distribute dental floss to each pupil who was present at my talk about dental health and explain how to use it. We are grateful to have money available for such expenses. My sister gave a similar talk earlier this year when she visited FCT relief and brought toothbrushes and toothpaste for all the pupils. We are always grateful for such donations for health expenses and the pupils appreciated this and should now have learnt how to look after their teeth properly.


Help with eyesight

The dental and eye clinics are in the same area in Lusaka and while Felix and Memory had their teeth checked, 10 other pupils were each seen by an ophthalmologist (eye specialist).


As usual there were a lot of people at the clinic and they had to wait patiently in the queue. After nearly 5 hours, everyone had been seen. Most of the pupils had allergies they did not know about and were told to watch their diet. They were given eye drops and were shown how to apply them and told not let things get too close to their eyes. It is often a challenge for many pupils as there is often no soap at home for washing, only cheap washing powder to use. What a privilege it is that at FCTrelief we have warm running water for showers and provide soap and shampoo for everyone who takes a shower.

Some pupils had to go for a review to see if their sight and eyes had improved after taking medication. In total this time 9 pupils needed glasses to improve their sight plus a few others received them earlier in the year.


One pupil named Chisanga has a squint which should have been corrected when he was much younger but no-one bothered. Now aged 18, the optician will try to help him with strong glasses and see how much they can correct it before he needs an operation. Chisanga is almost blind in one eye and the state of the other eye is not good so it is important for him to look after his eyes from now on. We also saw a surgeon who assessed the gravity of the squint. Without help from FCT this vulnerable boy, who joined us this year, would never have been able to see an eye specialist or get help.

At the beginning of November, we will get the new glasses for the pupils once the lenses they need are in stock, and they are all excited to be able to choose frames and finally see better with their new glasses!
Two other pupils, one of whom is taking medication for hepatitis, had chest pains (possibly heart problems?) and coughs and needed X-rays and an ECG and echo test. Thankfully, in both cases the results were normal and the pupils are grateful to know this.


Our new maths teacher, Ernest Mubanga, had his graduation from Evelyne Hone college on 22nd October. This is always a major event for the students who manage to complete their studies, often under challenging financial circumstances, making it a special achievement for many. Ernest was one of the best in his class last year and we congratulate him on his success and are very pleased with his work at FCTrelief since he joined us in April. Good luck for the future, Ernest.