KT Newsletter No 3

KT Newsletter No 3

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I’m too old to love rollercoasters as much as I do, but I can’t help myself. They have the incredible ability to take you through almost the full spectrum of human emotion in less than two minutes; apprehension, fear, excitement, jubilation, joy, peace, terror. They take you to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. They are fast and they are slow. They will cause you to scream one second and burst into uncontrollable laughter the next. They take your breath away and then quickly give it back to you. They turn you upside down and throw you around a little, but the tossing and turning doesn’t last forever. Eventually the ride is just a memory… and in my experience, always a good memory.

I’ve come to discover that living in Mwandi is like riding the most insane rollercoaster ever built. I experience more emotions in the course of a day than I knew existed. There are high highs and low lows. Sometimes things happen quickly and unexpectedly… like losing electricity. Other times things move incredibly slowly… like trying to get your electricity connected again.  But at the end of the day everything stops. The ride is over and peace reigns. The sun sets over the river and I take a deep breath on my verandah and am excited to ride the rollercoaster again when I wake up in the morning.

You haven’t heard from me for too long… for this I apologise. It’s been a busy several months in Mwandi and Australia. I headed back to Australia in early June for three months to embark on a speaking tour around the country. I drove over 10, 000km in my Dad’s car (thanks Dad!), from the Sunshine Coast to Yamba to Sydney to the Snowy Mountains to Melbourne to country South Australia (via the Great Ocean Road) to Adelaide to the Sunshine Coast to Rockhampton to Brisbane and eventually back to the Sunshine coast for a week of sleep before heading back to Mwandi.  Thank you to everyone who hosted me along the way. I told stories and sang some tunes in churches, lounge rooms, businesses and schools. It was a wonderful time of connecting with people who have supported the OVC Project faithfully for many years (as well as with new supporters)… and it was my pleasure to bring some stories from Zambia home to Australia. This will be something I do every year, so if you are interested in hosting an event next year feel free to drop me a line so I can include you on my next speaking tour. We’re hoping I can make it to America next year also, so please get in touch if you’d be interested in having me come to share about what’s happening at the Project.

The Project is venturing into the world of social media and we hope to be able to connect with more people more often via this medium. If you are on face book I’d love it if you tracked down our page and gave us a like. You’ll find us at “Mwandi UCZ OVC Project”. We launched the page a few days ago and have already managed to connect with about 250 people. This will be a great platform for sharing photos and stories as things happen day-to-day in Mwandi. We’d also really love it if you could share the page with anyone you know who has visited the Project in the past, or anyone who might be interested in the type of work we do.

I’m really saddened to report that one of the rollercoaster lowest of lows happened to our Project family this week. Makasa Ngowani (14), one of the original 20 children on our feeding program when it began 11 years ago, passed away on Monday in hospital. His health had been up and down for some months, but it was a shock to our staff and children when we heard the news. I attended his burial this week with staff and children from the OVC Project, where we celebrated his life and mourned with his family. Makasa had been with the Project since its inception, and we give thanks that he got 10 years of life which he may not have had if the Project was not around to support him nutritionally and medically. It was a stark reminder to me of how important it is that we continue to offer nutritional and medical support to vulnerable children in Mwandi. Thank you to all who faithfully support this part of the Project… unfortunately there is much still to do so we ask for your continued support and prayers as we move forward.

Other things on the ground here are moving along in their usual way. Our vocational training facilities continue to operate well (we had a graduation ceremony for sewing students while I was home in Australia). These courses offer valuable skills to anyone from the community and continue to empower (especially women) people to become self-sufficient. Although our numbers of students are low, the services are still of great value to the community. This month, our sewing and carpentry teachers are embarking on a PR campaign to make the community aware of what we offer and to invite people into these courses.

Our counselling team (led by Giblet) has been leading some exciting initiatives in outlying village areas. Their most recent outing was to the Sooka Community School where they led a workshop with the community about sexual abuse and exploitation. Giblet will be looking for more opportunities to run workshops in other areas… This is a growing part of the Project and we are still seeking funding to cover Giblet’s salary. Our counselling service provides a vital role in establishing healthy futures for our children who have suffered abuse, and who battle with the stigma of disease every day. Without trained professionals to help guide them through these issues, children will never come to understand that they have the right to a healthy and happy future. Please consider joining us in this important work.

Our education support program needs a little help. We have had some sponsors who have had to drop out and so we are seeking funding for college and university students. Some students only have a year left to get their degree/diploma and we’d love to be able to support them in this. Education really does change the course of people’s lives over here, and not just their life, but their entire family. We have seen it time and time again with students graduating and being able to support their families. If you’re able to support the Project in this way, Sandra Pugsley would be delighted to hear from you: sandrapugsley@gmail.com.

WORK IN PROGRESS –

Transforming old Bakery into new Administration Block
We have a few building projects on the go. These are always fun for Edward to manage. And when I say ‘ fun’ I really mean ‘wonderfully frustrating’!! The old bakery has been transformed into an administration block. It is 99% completed and so we hope to all move in there very soon. This will see the majority of our staff working out of the same building for the first time and will assist us greatly in our communication efforts with one another. The flats that we are building as an income generating activity are slowly coming along. It will be great to have them finished and tenanted to provide some income to cover staff wages.

Our farm is struggling a little and we are in the process of implementing a plan to increase our pig production in the hopes that the farm can become sustainable, and beyond that, that it can become a good income generating activity for the OVC Project. The increase in the price of food stock and the continued devaluing of the Zambian Kwacha makes this a lofty goal. We would really appreciate your prayers for the farm, and for the Zambian economy in general. With the presence of the drought and ever-increasing inflation (the Kwacha has inflated 100% to the US$ this year), people are really beginning to struggle.

On a personal note, I’ve been back in Mwandi for a month and am happily settled back in after a whirlwind trip to Malawi to see Fiona when I landed back in Africa. I continue to do the best I can to support our local management team as they run the project. It’s starting to get pretty hot here, and we now have the added bonus of 8-hour power-outages most days of the week. This could extend to 12-hour outages in the near future, so that’ll be fun (I use the word ‘fun’ loosely again!). We’ve developed a nice tradition of Sunday lunch BBQs, so I generally have 10-15 people on my verandah for lunch every Sunday. It’s wonderful to be surrounded by my Mwandi family in this way.

Thank you all for your continued support. None of this happens without a whole host of people responding in love to the needs of the world. You are so important to us over here in Zambia, and the door is always open if you’d like to come over and be part of what we’re doing in Mwandi.

Until next time… Cheers

kt xo

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