Life in Zambia and the challenges its people face are changing rapidly and unpredictably. Because of this, my visit to Zambia in July was vital to allow SERVE to learn more about the work of our partners and the difficulties they encounter.
Upon arriving, it was a pleasure to finally meet Milimo Muchanga, our extraordinary liaison with Assumption Parish. The role Milimo plays in the community is crucial to the success of all the work SERVE does with Assumption Parish and his commitment to improving his community inspires all of us at Team SERVE. I was also delighted to meet Mrs Mutale, the Principal of Luyobolola Primary School (LPS), Cledwyn Hamoonga from Flamboyant Special School, Harrison Banda from St Patrick’s Secondary School, and of course team Young Africa Zambia in Lusaka.
In Mazabuka, LPS recently received funding from SERVE for 50 new school desks which have greatly helped in the learning outcomes for the local children. They noted the fact that these desks were tailored to the right size and their width supports two students comfortably but is not so wide as to reduce the number they can fit in a classroom.
Zambia recently made primary and secondary education completely free. This is a positive step forward for Zambia and school enrollments at LPS have significantly increased. However, Luyobolola Primary School is comparatively underfunded and so operate on a shoestring budget despite their overpopulated classrooms. Understandably, this presents more challenges, and SERVE is working with them to identify solutions.
Our focus with Assumption Parish is guided by SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all.
I also visited the Lukavilla Arts Centre. Many of our past volunteers will remember their beautiful arts and crafts. They have faced a number of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they are on the road to recovery, including setting up a poultry project. They have agreed to make a new batch of hand-painted cards for all occasions for us to sell and raise funds at Christmas markets and at events in 2023. You will also be able to buy them from our Ethical Shop on our website.
When I visited Young Africa Zambia, I saw the enormous untapped potential for volunteer placements with them. Specifically, these volunteers could focus on life skills and employability training for young people in the local community. SERVE volunteers of the ‘Think Global, Act Local’ programme have already shared their reflections on the fantastic benefits of Life Skills training with young people.
SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth is at the centre of our partnership with Young Africa and our volunteer placements, funding and advocacy are based on this Global Goal.
SERVE acknowledges there are myriad challenges faced by each of our partners and so our work continues with them. You can help us offer support where it’s needed through donations, fundraising, volunteering and advocacy programmes. While our partners in Zambia present unique challenges that they grapple with – at a government policy level, lack of resources, infrastructure, staff shortages, environmental issues and much more, I, like my colleague John McCarthy, who recently visited India, am moved by our partners’ hard work and resilience.