2008 – 2013 the Mwandi Region
- Having been made aware of the high infant mortality rates and appalling medical facilities in a remote cluster of villages on the outskirts of the Mwandi region, the Project renovated a rural medical clinic, which provides medical services to a population of 5,700 people. When the trainees first arrived, the clinic was in a decrepit state, but is now recognised by Zambian medical administrators as the most developed rural clinic in the district.
- Between 2008 and 2013, a specialised maternity ward, together with separate sanitation facilities were built by the trainees in conjunction with the local community in the Mwandi region. The Project has also brought a consistent supply of running water and solar electricity to the clinic and maternity ward.
- From 2010, the Project began to focus on addressing food instability and the lack of nutritional variety in Zambia by developing the Lutaba Agricultural and Rural Development Centre (“LARDEC”) in conjunction with local Zambian partners. From humble beginnings LARDEC now provides training in farming practices and crop diversification to over 380 families over six outpost villages; this number continues to grow on an annual basis. A training centre, agricultural training plot, bore hole water supply, sanitation facility and a maize milling machine have been provided through the Project.
- In 2010, the Project began an initiative through LARDEC to empower farmers reliant on maize to grow rice for the first time. Rice can be produced in the fertile floodplains of the Zambezi River and provides greater economic benefit to the farmers of the region than maize, which would typically be farmed in the area. As a result of the Project’s efforts a new rice industry has been created in the area. Over 150 farmers are now involved in the rice project and this number continues to increase with each passing season. Due to the strength and success of rice farming in the area, the Project provided a mechanical rice polisher to increase the quality of rice produced. A maize dehuler was also provided to assist maize farming activities.
- Annual funding has also been given to local institutions in the Mwandi region such as the local schools, an infant-feeding programme, a biogas initiative, and an orphanage. The Project has also assisted with the purchase of new beds for the regional hospital.
- In accordance with the Project’s focus on sustainability, the exit and handover to the local communities took place in 2013. As hoped, the initiatives supported by the Project are growing organically with the communities at the helm.
2014 – 2017 – the Chikuni Region
- In 2014, the Zambia Project moved to a new phase in a different part of rural Zambia, called Chikuni. The Project’s focus is now to build radio schools in conjunction with the Canisius Secondary School (one of the earliest and most respected centres of learning in Zambia) and Chikuni local radio.
- The Radio Schools provide a government-approved curriculum to children who cannot attend formal schools due to geographic and financial barriers, tackling poor access to education which is one of the most recognised impediments to development.
- Lessons are broadcast over wind up radio and facilitated by locally trained mentors The first school in Hakalinda village was completed in 2014, , and will provide primary education to children from surrounding 13 villages. It will also operate an adult education and agricultural training programme. Ablution blocks and agricultural plots are built alongside the schools to improve sanitary conditions and provide agricultural training. Solar panels have been supplied and provide electric light to support evening adult training programmes, as well as homework clubs for the school children.
- It currently is planned to build up to five schools by 2017.
By taking part in the project, the trainees learn about everyday life in Zambia. When sharing their experiences to date, many trainees have described how taken aback they were by the fact that what we deem to be simple tasks in the western world, are extremely difficult tasks in rural Zambia. Some examples they have offered include the fact that water needs to be pumped and carried incredibly long distances on a daily basis, and disease, injury and hunger are too often a part of everyday life in rural Zambia.
More striking than this hardship was the dignity and beauty of the local people that the trainees have met over the years. From the songs and music around the fire at night to the smiles and laughter of the children playing football, these incredible people have left an impression on each trainee that will last a lifetime.