News from Zambia

Missionary Newsletter December 2013

Dear Church friends,

It has been a while since I last wrote to you. My 2 monthly letters have now slipped to 3 monthly, but I am hoping to improve in 2014! Many things have happened over these last 3 months, not least is a visit from some of our friends from Dortmund Germany, who came to see how the UCZ projects they fund in the Choma district are getting on, and to spend a little time sightseeing. We were pleased that they could spend nearly a whole day with us at Chodort and hope they returned with a positive picture of how things are going here. For those who don’t know, the Dortmund consistory has been our main funder since Chodort’s inception 10 years ago, and has helped us most recently with funding to finish houses 2 – 6 on the estate which in turn will fund the building of the new college. Whilst they were here we visited the largest crocodile farm in Africa, near the shores of Lake Kariba – and just in case you didn’t know ...crocodiles are very smelly!

We have also had a number of other longer term visitors who came over to volunteer. Micke Rosen came from Sweden to use his IT and marketing skills. Andrew Potts from Canada has joined us for 2 days a week in the carpentry workshop. He and his wife are over here for 3 years with the Mennonite Church. Moira Lee from Newmachar Scotland returned for almost 3 months this year to support me in the office and consolidate projects such as days for girls and Chodort clerical clothing. Her husband Dave joined us for about a month, and returns home on the 11th,whilst Moira will follow on the 21st. Way to go Moira, I guess Dave has to do all the Christmas shopping now! Roger Johnson supported by Challenges Worldwide and the Church of Scotland paid us a much briefer visit than expected (only 3 weeks) and had to return early for personal reasons, but still managed to get a lot done on the building site whilst he was here. We are also expecting Mr Malcolm Evans from Challenges Worldwide to arrive for a 3 month period shortly after Christmas and help us turn our production unit into a profitable concerns.

We expect houses 3 & 4 to be available for rent late in December. The walls are up to window level on house 5 (which is a 3 bedroom detached) & house 6 has a solid base. We hope they will be occupied by August of next year. Yesterday I was thrilled to hear from Beit Trust that the grant we put in for in August 2013 has been approved so building work on the new college block may begin in 2014. Beit Trust has given funding for a block containing 2 classrooms, 2 teachers’ studies and toilet facilities. So it is possible that we could have classes on our new site in 2016.

One thing Micke Rosen is keen to do in 2014 is to set up a programme for student meals. Many of our vulnerable students come to college without breakfast and occasionally without a meal the night before as well. During the run up to exams I have organised a sandwich and drink at lunchtimes, and Micke wants to make this a regular feature for the new college year, and has asked some of his friends in Sweden to sponsor this. This will be a great help to our vulnerable students who struggle from day to day for life’s basics.

This weekend (7 -8 December) Moira and I are going to Kitwe to attend the Theological College Licensing ceremony for the new Ministerial graduates. This will be a good opportunity to test the waters for Chodort Clerical Clothing, a small venture where we are targeting UCZ ministers with a Zambian style mail order service. While in Kitwe we will also have a play4all Board meeting on Friday, and get a chance to express our gratitude to Jane, the project manager. She has done a stalwart job maintaining and developing Play4all with very little support from Rachael and myself as we have been preoccupied with our main jobs.

Finally I would like to introduce a worthy new project we are setting up called “days for girls” This indicates that many girls spend one week a month less in schools than boys because they have very limited access to hygiene facilities, particularly in the rural areas. The days for girls pack uses soft cotton / flannelette with a special one way liner. The pads can be washed through and used for up to 3- 4 years. We have been received with enthusiasm at the schools we have visited and even the teachers are keen to buy our product. The small drawback is that many girls cannot afford the K60 (£7.50) it costs to make the pack. We are currently thinking how we set out the criteria for a subsidy, and are looking for sponsors to sponsor a girl / group of girls at £5.00 a pack (we think they should still pay a little too). If you are interested and want to have more details please contact me at my email address below.

Two teachers & three pupils from Macha school where we
visited recently to publicise days4girls
Two teachers & three pupils from Macha school where we visited recently to publicise days4girls

Items for Praise:

  • For the positive way all our volunteers are contributing to the life of Chodort.
  • For the progress on the building site.
  • For a grant from Beit Trust to build the first classrooms for the new college.

Items for Prayer:

  • For the students, who have exams this week and their graduation on the 13.12. Specifically that they can use their new skills to get a job, when so many remain unemployed.
  • For the Dowiza widows group in Ipusukilo as they look for funding for their farming project.
  • For Play4all as it nears its second anniversary in January 2014.
  • For days for girls and clerical clothing projects. These have been started as social rather than money spinning projects, and will need a lot of organisation to get off the ground.

Wishing you all a very peaceful and happy Christmas,

Jenny Featherstone