News from Zambia

Missionary Newsletter August 2011

Our Mission partner, Jenny Featherstone, continues teaching a Social Work Diploma course in the U.C.Z. college - United Churches of Zambia college. She is also engaged in many local projects, one in particular with the name DOWIZA - Domestic Widows in Zambia. The aim, essentially, is to develop a sense of independence and pride among the village women as they try to work out initiatives to generate funds - some projects meeting with a measure of success, others failing for various reasons, all aiming to move away from the "dependency syndrome" and build a sense of "own enterprise".

Jenny writes - In 20 years, Zambia fell from being one of the richest nations of Africa to being one of the poorest, and its people came to rely heavily on handouts. So much so, that this mentality has become ingrained in some people, particularly among the poorer communities, that we, in the developed world, are often seen not for whom we are, but what can be got from us.

We, in Bennochy Church, have taken on board one such project, namely the up-grading of their meeting place, the NSAKA, as seen in the photos.

This picture was taken at the end of last year’s
rainy season (2010)
This picture was taken at the end of last year’s rainy season (2010)

It is there where projects and work are based:-

  1. a new grass roof is badly needed before the rainy season from October onwards, see picture below. Grasses must be collected in September, then laid to dry out, otherwise all grasses are burnt in preparation for sowing crops.
  2. the circular wall needs to be raised and plastering done.
  3. the floor needs to be concreted.
Damaged hut roof
Damaged hut roof

We would also support the renting of some land "across the river" for growing vegetables. Negotiations are proving difficult at present. We await further news from Jenny. When agreement is reached, the women would need to invest in seeds and fertiliser, also some tools for the job.

We have no complete set of costings, always a slow business there. However, Jenny reckons that a sum of about £200 would cover everything: e.g.£75.00 approx. for concreting of floor, raising of the wall to sit on, and plastering. e.g. £3-£4 approx. for a hoe. The thatcher has still to quote. The acquisition of land will require cash in hand, then the size of ground will determine the number of bags of fertiliser, tools etc.

All this, not as a hand-out, but as an investment in a harvest-type project to start up a business. Our monies raised over our Harvest Thanksgiving weeks would be held secure in Jenny's account and designated for this two-fold project. Monies could be used immediately and/or held in reserve as deemed necessary. Jenny will report on progress. We keep Jenny and all such initiatives in our prayers.

Further news from Jenny:

I have just met with Agnes and Joyce and they have found someone to improve the Nsaka before the rain sets in. Unfortunately they did not get a quote for the roof! But they say the concreting of the floor, raising of the wall to sit on and plastering will cost around k600,000 (£75.00 approx.) including labour.

I have asked them to go back and get quotes for the roof. It is essential they do it now as the grass used is seasonal, and will not be available from the end of this month as they burn the fields in preparation for cultivating. – very different from our methods! Hoes and other implements for farming are usually around k25,000 each, but they have not yet been able to negotiate a price for a piece of land to rent across the river. As well as implements and seeds they also use fertiliser, how many bags depends on how big the land is.

Here I am demonstrating how to make
body lotion (I think!) 6 months without rain means your skin gets very dry
Here I am demonstrating how to make body lotion (I think!) 6 months without rain means your skin gets very dry

With very best wishes to you all,