Sunday, January 11, 2009

Building a school in Zambia - we've secured land!

Things are moving on apace in Zambia in regard to our project to build and sustain a school. Constance has had several meeting with the Chief and his Headmen and reached an arrangement whereby we will be given 30 hectares of land, on the banks of the Zambezi, on which to build the Zambezi International School. All of us involved in the Thembinkosi Foundation are understandably delighted!

We first approached the Chief about the possibility of acquiring land in his Chiefdom, for the purpose of building a school, in August. Our progress was somewhat hindered by the untimely death of President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa and then by the subsequent Presidential by election but throughout this time remained in regular contact with the Chief . He has been very enthusiastic toward our project ever since we first approached him. He shares our vision of empowering his people and he is convinced that our project will be of great benefit to his subjects.

During our negotiations with the Chief and his Headmen it became increasingly apparent that our project has the potential to make a real difference to the lives of the people within the surrounding district. The land that we have been given is adjacent to a village which has its place on the banks of the river. The villagers live simply - sustaining themselves through fishing and by exchanging their surplus for mealie meal. The village lacks any form of infrastructure and the people are not only some of the poorest in Zambia but are among the poorest in the world. The Headman of the village sees the potential benefits to his people that will come through the building of our school adjacent to the village.

ZIS will of course be a fee paying institution. This is to ensure the financial sustainability of the project. However, part of the raison d’ĂȘtre of our project is the empowerment not only of the students who attend ZIS, but also the empowerment of the community of which we will be a part. In the first instance we have promised the community that we will provide electricity and running water to the villagers and subsequently we will bring the gift of education to the children of the village through our supporting of the building and sustaining of a local village school. Not only will we support the building of the village school but we will also share the facilities of ZIS with our neighbours. Thus as ZIS grows and develops the communities we are working with develop. And this development is multifaceted. The development will be tangible in terms of the infrastructure, water, electricity and roads but will also bring about employment opportunities for the villagers. Furthermore, as part of our commitment to our Outreach Projects our teachers, and older students, at ZIS will work with the children at the village school and beyond.

We envisage being a self sufficient institution within three to five years of opening our doors to our first student. Beyond this stage we would hope that any fundraising will be done with the aim of supporting our outreach projects rather than contributing to the sustaining of the school. By this stage we would also hope to have develop our land in order to have cultivated our land and introduced livestock in order to ensure that ZIS becomes a self sufficient institution. Now that we have land on which to build we are along way to fulfilling our dreams but there is still along way to go. The next stage of the project involves the legal process of the transfer of the land rights from the Chief to ZIS and then the employing surveyors and architects to plan for the physical aspects of the school.

The success of the project to date would not be possible without all the people who have supported us thus far. Everyone who has offered us words of encouragement, kept our project in their prayers, joined our Facebook group or visited our website has kept us going. When we reflect on the scale of the project we have undertaken and the difference that we have the potential to make it can sometimes be overwhelming but knowing that we have so many people who believe in what we are doing is so inspiring.

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