In 2006, the Wye Valley School in Bourne End, Buckinghamshire – now Bourne End Academy – was invited to take part in a school exchange programme by the British Council for Specialist Sports Colleges.
We had previously been working in Jamaica, when I was asked if I would like to partner a school in Zambia. From that grew a partnership which has lasted for 13 years.
Libala Secondary School has 4,500 students. Initially we went out to train their students to be sports leaders to organise a sports festival for local primary schools.
Annual visits continued, each year with a different focus; science, IT and student mentoring, all linked to the sports leaders programme. In 2008, we took out some computers to set up a computer suite, and three years later we funded for a group of Libala students to visit the UK.
They came in February and had never encountered such cold weather. They visited the Rotary Conference and we also took them to the seaside. A new experience if you live in a land-locked country.
The Zambia Project charity was formed in 2013, since we had extended our projects beyond a school partnership.
We had developed a link between Chilenje School Special Needs department and Bardwell School in Bicester which had led to the involvement of Bicester Rotary.
When we went out in 2014, we took a teacher from Bardwell with us to support the teachers at Chilenje. While we were there we also repainted their classroom.
The Zambia Project charity was formed in 2013, since we had extended our projects beyond a school partnership.”
Our Interact Club bought two new wheelchairs for two students who desperately needed them and we took four children to have hearing tests which their parents couldn’t afford.
Several children who wanted to come to school couldn’t because the toilets were a distance away from the unit which they couldn’t access.
We saw a derelict building across the field which gave us a few ideas about creating a skills centre for special needs children to help them get a job.
Chilenje is a very poor area of Lusaka where the community needs to have access to training to improve employment opportunities.
Bourne End & Cookham Rotary linked with clubs in Cookham Bridge, Bicester, and St Ives, Australia, to apply for a Global Grant to build the skills centre in partnership with Maluba Rotary in Lusaka. Work has started to transform this building.
Libala Secondary School has been central to our programme.
They set up an Interact Club in 2010 which is still going well. They have run projects supporting local orphanages, children in hospital, environmental programmes and visiting primary schools to run IT classes for the children.
We have been able to help them develop their IT programme. After the first set of computers we have been able to send over improved machines.
The project has also helped Kabwata School. Thanks to a grant from the Openwork Foundation, and with support from Faringdon Rotary led by Linda and Tim Cowling, we were able to create a bright and fun pre-school room for young children as well as repaint and repair many of the classrooms.
The next challenge at Kabwata is to raise funds to purchase desks for the children. Many of the classrooms only have broken desks which are dangerous for the children to use.
The cost of a desk is £55 and we plan to challenge individuals to sponsor a desk or perhaps ask schools if they would be prepared to sponsor a classroom.
The next challenge at Kabwata is to raise funds to purchase desks for the children. Many of the classrooms only have broken desks which are dangerous for the children to use.”
The cost for a classroom is £1,375.
A programme which started as a school exchange programme back in 2006 has moved forward considerably.
We continue to send donations out to our schools with the help of the National Police Aid Convoys and Operation Sunshine.
We have a new Primary School joining our programme with a partner school in Lusaka and we continue to work towards our motto: making friends and changing lives through working together.
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