Friday, March 27, 2009

The wider impact of the Zambezi International School

We will not only educate and empower our own students at ZIS. We will also seek to working partnership with neighbouring community schools and communities. We will seek to establish an out of school hours adult education programme. This will include courses in basic literacy, numeracy and basic financial skills but also agriculture and environmental studies. Local farmers will be taught to explore the wider implications of the use of artificial fertilisers and GMO seeds and encourage to farm in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sunset over a Zambian Fishing Village

The extraordinary thing about Ngwanzi village is that the villagers do not have any access to running water. The women and children have the duty of fetching water from the river as and when it is required. This task is not only onerous and backbreaking but is incredibly dangerous. Crocodiles lurk in the water and on the river banks and the simple task of fetching water can be a life threatening pursuit. This may sound over dramatic but only last month one of the elderly villagers in the village  was eaten by a crocodile.

Moreover although the life of a fisherman may look idyllic for a young man it is also a life fraught with danger. A young fisherman, and many of them are very young, will face the perils of life on the river. Hippos, as you may know, are responsible for the deaths of more people than any other animal in Africa (besides humans!) and the hippos lurk in the waters of the Zambezi. Get between a hippo and her young and your life is on the line.

Besides these dangers there is the ever present danger of malaria - Africa's biggest killer. The village lacks any form of health care facility. There is not even a simple clinic.

The people of Ngwanzi village may life a happy life for the most part but there is no doubt that access to running water, basic sanitation, electricity, basic health care and education for their children would dramatically improve their lives. The Thembinksi Foundation hopes to make a difference in the lives of these people. By providing education for children and adults, providing access to running water, basic sanitation and health care we hope to make a difference to children like the one's we met in Ngwanzi.

Monday, March 09, 2009

In search of Chief Sekute and the death of a President

On 19th August 2008 President Levy Mwanawasa passed away. I heard the news of his death in Ngwanzi village which is on the shores of the River Zambezi in the Kazangula District of Zambia.

We had spent a whole day travelling throughout the Kazangula District in search of Chief Sekute. The Chief was travelling from village to village in his Chiefdom visiting his subjects but he had agreed to give us an audience provided that we could find him! We were travelling with two of his nephews, but as our mobile phone signal only worked in certain areas out in the Bush we were finding it very difficult to actually find him.

Eventually, almost as the sun was setting, we found out that the Chief would shortly be arriving in Ngwanze. We made our way to the quaint fishing village and awaited his arrival. Whilst waiting we were shown around by the Headman. The village was a hub of excitement. It was a time of great anticipation awaiting the Chief's arrival. As we waited we heard the Zambian National Anthem being played on a distant radio. At the time this didn't seem unusual but with the benefit of hindsight we realised the significance of this event. Nearby to where we had parked our hired 4x4 vehicle we huddled around a small radio, that barely picked up a signal, and heard the news that the President had died.

People had long speculated over the health of the President and some had quietly speculated that they suspected he would never return to Zambia from his hospital in Paris. Logic dictated that this was a reasonable hypothesis. However, there was always hope. Hope had ended with this radio broadcast though and now all had fallen silent.

Soon Chief Sekute arrived, but to a much different atmosphere to the one of only an hour earlier. Upon his arrival he made his way to the centre of the village to be greeted by the senior villagers. The mood was sombre as Betty and Constance made their way to pass on our condolences to the Chief. We had sort out the Chief in order to discuss the possibility of acquiring land in his Chiefdom but now our trip had taken on a new perspective.

President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa was an honest, decent and humble man who sort the best for his people. He fought corruption in Zambia and upheld the rule of law and the principles of democracy. He is sadly missed by the people of Zambia and by many others in Africa. May he rest in peace.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Monthly Update March 2009

Thank you so much to those of you who have joined our cause or one of our groups on Facebook and for helping us in our project to build and sustain a school in Zambia. Please keep on inviting (and reminding) all your friends to join so that our 'cause' continues to go from strength to strength.

Breaking News: I will be travelling to Zambia during the Easter holidays. During my trip I will be working hard to ensure that we can start building our school in the near future. We have thus far secured a prime piece of land on which to build our school on the banks of the Zambezi and we potentially may have secured additional land on which to develop aspects of our outreach and community projects. We are very grateful to Constance who is working so hard on our behalf in Zambia.

Breaking News: We have been in regular touch with the Charity Commission and fingers crossed we should be a registered charity within the next week or so. Gaining the status of a registered charity will open up several additional channels of funding so the sooner we are offiicially recognised as a charity the better!

Breaking News: You can follow the progress of our project through Twitter

We will be back in touch as soon as we have anymore significant news to report. In the meantime please feel free to utilise our discussion boards, sign our guestbook on our website, add us on twitter and plurk and keep spreading the news about our project by inviting everyone you've ever met to do the same.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Eathship Living and Sustainable Development

As part of our commitment to the principles of sustainable development the Zambezi International Green School will include many of the principles of Earthship Living. Unlike the Earthships shown in the video we will not be using tyres in the building of our school (as waste tyres are not readily available in the African Bush!) but we will be utilising whatever we can recycle in our natural environment. Furthermore, we intend to adopt many of the principles of Earthship Living. We will harvest and recycle our own water, partly from rain water and partly from the nearby river, and we are committed to generating all of our own energy without any recourse to fossil fuels. In fact most of our power will be generated through the use of water with perhaps some solar energy where necessary. The reason for this is primarily that through the effective use of water we can be 86% efficient in generating power compared to the approximate 16% efficiency of solar panels!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Permaculture in Africa

In this video clip Bill Mollison surveys some of the permaculture projects he helped to establish in Africa. The clip features a grade school with a schoolyard garden that produces food for the children's lunches and provides a tool for teaching the techniques to the students, most of whom come from farming families, an African plant guildcompost pile and beekeeping.

It is our aim to emulate these practices and other aspects of permaculture at ZIS. All students will study Agriculture at our school and will be empowered to use sustainable methods of farming in their adult lives. Moreover, ZIS will offer a programme of adult education to the communities with whom we will co-exist. Our students, teachers and all others involved in our projects will work together to experiment and develop 'best practice' in sustainable farming.