In October 2013, a group of St Mary's Calne girls flew out to Zambia to help with the building of a new school in the North-Eastern Tembwe district of Chama. This is a region where girls have, until now, had little or no opportunity of a secondary education. Instead, many girls are forced into child marriage at ages as young as ten and eleven. The school is situated in an incredibly rural area and the students who went out to visit the school in 2013 were the first Westerners many of the locals had seen.
For many years the Zambia Government has had little money to put towards its Education Programme and, whilst the District Education Boards do their best, they struggle with a budget that is inadequate to meet the needs of the growing population. Schools in rural areas suffer from a shortage of classrooms, with their existing ones usually in need of significant refurbishment. Often teaching is done in shifts, with some classes coming in the morning and others in the afternoon, but in spite of this many classes are still overcrowded. Educational resources such as text books and teaching aids are in short supply and often out of date and it is not unusual for there to be just one text book for the whole class.
Father Katete, Director of The Anglican Street Children's Programme, has been central to the setting up of St Mary’s School for Girls, Chama. He aims to build a good quality school for vulnerable girls and orphans in an attempt to provide them with the necessary education that will protect them from child marriage and provide them with the opportunities they need to earn a living. Since the construction of the school began, The David Livingstone Bicentenary and Livingstone 2013 initiative have provided enormous funds towards the project, raising a total of £20,000! In 2013, the St Mary’s girls physically helped construct the buildings and, after their visit, the ablution block and most of the first 24-bed dormitory had been completed - an enormous achievement.
However, the school is still in need of two boreholes, one block of four classrooms and a science lab. A borehole will supply fresh water for the very first time to the villages in the district and will replace the small, deep and muddy well, currently the only source of water in the area and for the new school. When the borehole and water pipes have been installed the first block of classrooms will be able to be completed, and then the school can open.
The girls in Poore Company have decided to support this charity in the hope that our fundraising will contribute to what is needed to open the school. In order to raise money, we will we be selling 'purple tickets', which are scratch cards! Each ticket wins something but people who have 'lucky tickets' will be entered into a prize draw in the hope of winning bigger prizes, such as gift cards.
Plans to re-visit the school on a community and conservation trip in 2020 are underway as well. This will involve helping to complete the building of the school or, if it is finished, helping in lessons, sport and in the boarding houses.