Fiona Newsletter – Aug 2015

Fiona Newsletter – Aug 2015

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Dear Friends,

I hope you are all well.

We are just back from nearly 6 weeks in Zambia, exhausted but glad to be home.

It was a really busy time for us all and good to see everyone, although we didn’t get to see Katie as she is currently in Australia visiting many churches, school and home groups to spread the word about the Mwandi OVC Project.

A few days we before we left to go to Zambia, Lucy’s school and Cora’s kindergarten closed for the long winter break. Lucy’s school had sports day a week before they closed and it was a real fun day. Her team “Domwe” won the competition. It was a really nice time for parents to get to know each other better. It is a small school and really feels more like a big family.  Cora’s kindy had a lovely concert and all the little kids from all over the world were so cute. Cora’s class was teaching us about shapes.

When school begins in August Lucy will start grade 1 and Cora (who will be turning 3 in September) will attend kindy 3 mornings a week.

We met up with Keith and Ida at Lusaka who were up for meetings and the girls were so excited to see their Famor and Papa. We ended up taking them back to Mwandi with us as their car was in the garage. We took the girls to the cinema in Lusaka as there are none in Lilongwe and they loved it. Cora and Lucy were hilarious with their 3D glasses on and pigging out on popcorn and drinking slush puppies.

Ruairidh is really busy at work and is travelling a lot. He is enjoying the challenges and travelling to the USA to attend conferences and training.  He hasn’t been playing Rugby as he’s been so busy travelling – but is planning to get back into that as soon as he can

I continue to keep busy with daily duties, gardening, running around with the children and Mwandi OVC Project work. We are happy with the Church we are attending and hopefully when school starts this term I will be able to attend ladies Bible study. While I was in Australia I had a steroid injected in my spine and that has really settled down the pain related to my back issues.

Mwandi area is extremely dry for June /July winter season (no rain) and that was the reason why we were in Mwandi as Ruairidh’s work are running a drought relief program. World Renew in partnership with UCZ and The Canadian Food Grains Bank will be supplying general food relief in the form of Mealie meal, beans, cooking oil, and salt to 23,000 people in the Mwandi catchment area. The situation is quite dire and when Ruairidh was out in the bush, some people didn’t have any maize in their granaries and were surviving on bush fruits. Attendance at the areas community schools has dropped considerably as the families haven’t the food to send along with their children to school or let alone the water. The program will also be supplying a daily ration of porridge with peanut butter and sugar. The program will also help to establish production units at each of these schools to sustain the feeding programs once the drought response stops.

Bevan Hancock is back in Mwandi again this time helping with running the water, agriculture and production unit aspects of the World Renew drought relief program. He is really excited to be back and spending time out in the bush and he is in his element.

Mwandi itself isn’t struggling like the bush. Obvious the elderly and OVC will struggle as usual, but with the fish, river and passing trade coming in and out of the village all day there is a steady flow of income.

From “ashes to a palace”, our new Store room it is looking great and is a really good working space for our stores person. It is really well organised, clean and cool. I am so proud of how far our stores person has come. We sponsored Sishwati at Sheheke high school but she got pregnant straight out of school. We employed her at the farm in 2010 as our sales lady and then she moved to OVC stores person early 2014. She had little in the way of computer skills and some of our visitors from overseas who had come a few times to Mwandi spent time with her down at the farm on an ancient laptop. Sishwati is now running her stores inventory computer program well and keeping up with all the appropriate book work that is required for the stores dept. Last year she went for training in Livingstone and did really well. It would be great to send her again next year for support and encouragement.

The decision to have a fulltime counselor at the project has just been so fruitful to all the programs that are run out of the project. Giblet and a team of volunteers are making positive relationships with the schools in Mwandi and now are working close together, keeping an eye on the students. Giblet is volunteering at the hospital one day a week at the ART clinic as HIV counseling is very different to Child and couples counseling and he wants to keep his skill up to date while also serving the needs in our community.

We are still seeking financial support for Giblet’s salary for the very important work he does at the project. If you are able to help or need more information please contact us.

The Nutrition Support Program now 10 years old!!!!  It is amazing thinking back on how we started the program, the many hours spent planning with the large groups of community representatives – who are now our Management team members. We used to meet in the hospital chapel long before anything was built at OVC.    A long time was spent planning for the program from the results of a base line survey that was conducted by the social worker based in Mwandi and myself.

We started feeding just 20 children, we had no power or running water and it is amazing to see those children now, alive, strong, completing school and beyond. The program has really shaped these children with spiritual support, an outlet for their aggression through sports, higher self-esteem through counseling and help with personal hygiene, strong minds and bodies from good food and education and most importantly the opportunity to feel LOVE and that someone does care.

I met a young woman at the Project one day who I recognized.  She attended the feeding program when we just started the program.  She is, and was back then, HIV positive, and now her 2 yound children are on the program too.

To be able to offer support to those most vulnerable and HIV positive children is a sign that the community need and trust the Project.  But with regards to behavior change with HIV I just pray that people are trying to look after themselves, and think ahead for their children’s future, and not just taking advantage of the Project.

This is going to become a long term focus for the Project in the coming year.  More about this soon.

I just want to thank you all for your prayers, financial support and hard work to keep this program running to give these children their basic needs and dignity every day. This is something we really take for granted. It’s hard to express the feelings I have with regards to this program – the heart-filled love I have for every one of those children who have come and gone on the program and to see those kids and who they are today – ALIVE and LIVING to the best of their capabilities and making the most of what life offers them.

The Sewing centre students graduated the week we left Mwandi and what a nice group they were. I was so impressed with the lovely clothes they made for the children on the feeding program. They were beautifully made, the best team of students I have seen so far and that is wonderful. It is a real credit to them and to Anna our teacher.

The annual Blankets distribution has been completed this winter for the Orphans and Vulnerable children in the community registered on our program. The cooler weather was late this year probably due to the drought. We really appreciate your support with this very important program and pray support keeps coming for this annual program.

Now, an update of our graduating students;

Mwandi UCZ OVC Project Sponsored University and College graduates so far in 2015

Bryan Mwiya – Degree (Msc) in Metallurgy – merit.

Kaliluka Kalama – Degree (Msc) in Engineering in Environmental Engineering -credit- majored in climate change sciences.

Annie Liboma – Diploma (BDip) in bio medical Sciences

Webby Kabisa – Diploma (BDip) in Bio Medical Sciences

Sibeso Mutelo – Diploma in Nursing

Stella Matakala – Diploma in Social Work

 

It is a huge commitment to keep supporting our students in University and College as the duration is long and we thank all the sponsors of our students. It is truly a wonderful and blessed gift and the students certainly do not take their education for granted.

Elais Phiri, a very bright young man (who you may have heard of or met in Mwandi if you have visited), has been on the feeding program since the program started and has just been accepted into a Zambian University doing a BA in Religion. We  are seeking ½ support for a 4 year commitment. Please let me know if any of you are interested in helping Elias.

His sister Kanchule is also applying to university to do nursing. It would be great if we can bond her to the hospital in Mwandi. She is a very bright young woman. If anyone is interested in supporting Kanchule please email me – she has a very bright future ahead of her. Both Elias and Kanchule have attended the OVC youth group since we started a long time ago.

We are still seeking support for Mwandi High School students and some of our University students whose sponsors are struggling and we still need partial support from some students. Your support would be greatly appreciated.

The Mwandi OVC Project Support Team (Based in Port Lincoln, Australia) recently Incorporated, they now have an Australian ABN and an Australian Charity Number. Judy our treasurer has spent many hours working on the application for the Charity status and it has been a real learning curve, thank you so much Judy. The next challenge for the Support team is to apply for the tax deductibility status so we can receive tax deductible donations.

Thank you for your continued prayers for our family and for the Mwandi UCZ OVC Project family of children, staff and volunteers.

 

Till next time.

Be well and be blessed.

Grace and Peace

Fred (Fiona), Ruairidh, Lucy and Cora xxxx

PS  Fiona’s 12 year old faithful friend, her beloved dog Bucky passed away, for the last 4 years he has had three legs owing to an accident, but succumbed to pneumonia on Wednesday 20th August – a very sad day.

Please pray for :

  • Ruairidh as he is working long hours on the Mwandi Drought Relief program but also on all his other work too.
  • Our family – for good health, protection and to continue to settle in Lilongwe.
  • Bevan, Rients and Margaret as they work hard on the Drought Relief Program in Mwandi
  • Katie as she is traveling long distances to reach groups to share the stories of the Mwandi OVC Project
  • Edward, Marina and their family
  • That the financial support keeps coming forth for all the programs that are being run at the Mwandi OVC Project
  • Mwandi OVC Project Support Team members (based in Australia) for working hard to administer funds and fundraise for the Project.

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