In Bulgaria Gordon has continued to deliver the last of the wood and food packages to people in need on his list, 36 families in total – everyone is extremely grateful.
Schools in Zambia were supposed to open on 4th January, earlier than usual, but this was postponed at the last minute to 18th and then changed again to 1st February, due to increased cases of Corona! Having about 80 children all day, normally they come in 2 groups for half a day when schools are open, proved a challenge for our teachers but they did a great job.
An interruption by Corona
Our Head teacher, Eugene reports:
The pupils sponsored by FCTrelief Zambia have been privileged to have tuitions and lunches, 5 days a week, since 4th January while their schools are closed. Teachers always emphasize the importance of social distancing, masking up and hand washing. We planned a timetable to accommodate all the pupils for tuitions and I was teaching and supervising the teachers by checking the work they prepared to teach. There is always so much to set up in a new year, with timetables, the new pupils, getting uniforms measured and handing out the new shoes and books etc.
We have been receiving applications and assessing the new pupils by giving tests and doing interviews to determine their vulnerability and decide whether we sponsor them or not. Some pupils need help to find places at new schools and it was important to meet the new Head teacher of Mount Makulu Secondary school, that most of our senior pupils attend. She was impressed with the work we are doing and promised to give our pupils places. All the staff were given new contracts for this year and these had to be certified at the Labour Office.
Despite taking precautions Samuel, one of our teachers, tested positive for Corona the week before last, so we decided to close all operations for this past week, to have all the infrastructure on the plot in Linda sprayed and disinfected and all the other staff members tested – thankfully they are all negative and Samuel has made a quick recovery.
We hope to re-open again on 1st February, when it has just been announced by the Minister of Health, that all schools and colleges will open. Now 2021 can start properly, while there is still plenty to finalise for the year. Once we have all the pupils in their schools then we can pay their school and exam fees for the year.
From the skinny orphan to the doctor
Tabea, who is responsible for the students we support after they finish school and their study loans, reports the following:
We have 2 students who will complete their college courses this year (nursing and business management), and a new student Memory, who completed her grade 12 with good results last year and is very grateful to receive a loan from FCTrelief to enable her to start her 3-year course in pharmacy.
3 others had their courses delayed due to the pandemic, but should also complete this year and once they find jobs, can start to repay their loans which will then enable other youngsters to study. Another pupil who has been with us for some years, Alex, completed his A-level course at a special boarding school thanks to a sponsor and will start to study medicine at the University of Zambia in February.
Tabea remembers him, a skinny orphan, falling on his knees in gratitude when we took him on our sponsorship programme originally and he now hopes to become a doctor! These young people are so very grateful for these chances in life.
The 4 students who completed their skills training at Chikupi foundation in December are now ready to start work – the 2 girls are helping Anni make the uniforms. She can monitor Bertha and Joyce before we give them a sewing machine and other items they need to start their own small business.
The boys, Kelvin and Richard, will also get some tools for welding and brick laying, so they can look for work and get more experience. Exhilda, who did a food production course, will get further help from her sponsor so that she can start up her own small business while she is waiting for employment, which is difficult to find due to the second Corona wave.
2 new students have started their skills training courses for this year and are very excited! Both these girls had challenging home situations and being away and learning to live independently is very important for them. Chikupi had to close for 10 days due to Corona but we hope it reopens on 1st February too.
We are all very motivated for the year ahead, despite the challenges of Corona.