Schools and colleges in Zambia finally re-opened on 5th August after the long Covid break and life could get back to normal for all the staff and pupils at FCTrelief. The pupils were only too glad to return and have their 5 lunches a week with us. We had handed out 2 food distributions for each pupil’s family during the break so that there was at least something to cook and eat at home and these were greatly appreciated.
A farmer's son in power
In mid-August a general election took place and mostly due to so many of the younger voters turning out to vote – many voting for the first time – the opposition party won and there is now a new president in Zambia, who was elected on his fifth attempt! Mr Hakainde Hichilema (known as HH) faces a major challenge to improve the lives of the average Zambian, fight poverty and corruption but has brought hope to the country and has already taken positive steps to make good on his promises of a better future – and to create many more jobs for the predominantly younger population, many well educated, who are seeking employment. There is such a potential in many spheres in Zambia and we trust the new president will make the most of this. He comes from a very poor farming family and was educated with help from sponsors through school and university, in Zambia and then England and became a successful businessman before entering politics.
Student loan despite corona crisis
Life has been particularly hard for many Zambians these past 2 years with ever-increasing food and fuel prices and many lost their jobs, partly due to Covid. Apparently about 40% of the adults could not afford even one simple meal a day! It is high time for a change and better government.
In all this, our work and support at FCT became even more important and appreciated. Those who completed school and are able to study at college or University with our support – we give student loans to be repaid once they have jobs – the future certainly looks brighter and these young people will be part of the generation to help make Zambia a better place in future.
Breakfast creates change
As well as teaching and feeding our pupils, we also take care of their health issues. Last Saturday we held the annual Health Check up and 79 of our pupils attended – only 6 were absent – a good turnout! Dr Winnice Nyirenda came once again to check on these pupils – which took her nearly 6 hours with just a short break! Racheal, who is now a qualified psychosocial counsellor and Tabea, who is a nurse worked together to do an initial check, taking Blood pressure and asking about any complaints for 3 ½ hours beforehand.
22 didn’t have any issues so didn’t need to see the doctor. Dr Winnice saw the rest and many needed to see a doctor. Everyone was grateful for this opportunity.
Tabea realises that most of the health issues are due to lack of a healthy diet and vitamins. The poor (or no food) causes many pupils to have ulcers and stomach problems at an early age and most do not eat breakfast, due to lack of food at home. If they could have a banana for breakfast this would already make a big improvement. FCTrelief is already making a big change in the pupils’ lives by giving them a healthy, balanced lunch 5 days a week which is greatly appreciated by everyone who comes to eat. As of 1st October, we will now hand out a banana to every pupil for breakfast five days a week and hope to see a difference by the end of the month.
Delay going to the clinic
Tabea also reports that pupils with health issues delay going to the clinic until it becomes unbearable – mostly because there is no money for medication and a long wait in queues, often all day, to see someone. A lot of issues could be solved if they could be treated earlier. At FCT we talk to them and insist that they come to us with any health issues and the last few months has seen a great improvement as we have been able to help them with creams, eye drops and medication. During the recent change of season from cold to hot, when it is often windy and dusty, many pupils had ‘flu and coughs as well as eye problems, which cause some of them to have headaches when studying.
There are some special cases that will need follow ups and 12 pupils will go for eye and dental check-ups and treatment on 5th October and a few will need an X-ray or scans. Tabea bought all the medication suggested by Dr Winnice and has given it to the pupils in question. The pupils trust us and are so grateful for all this help. Such a day is quite costly but it is certainly money well spent!
The health check-up lasted all day and for those pupils waiting their turn, the teachers organised sports after the youth meeting and a film to watch later. Our cooks prepared a “special meal” as a treat which was enjoyed by everyone. Well done to all the team for a worthwhile and successful day.