News from Zambia

Missionary Newsletter July 2018

Dear Church friends,

Here are a few of the events this year.

In December / January we experienced a severe Cholera outbreak in Lusaka with deaths rising to 3 figures. As a result all schools and colleges were stopped from opening in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease. The reasoning behind this was many schools over here have boarding facilities and the movement of people would exacerbate the spread of germs. At one point it was even considered to stop church assemblies, but that was too much for most Zambians so the ban was just restricted to not shaking hands after church and all schools and colleges were inspected to ensure they had enough hand washing facilities and adequate toilets.

A level 3 tailoring student
A level 3 tailoring student

The knock on effect of this was we could not start our new college year till late February, with the new sponsored courses for Level 3 in Tailoring, Food Production and Carpentry. I am pleased to say all those who took the exams in Carpentry and Food production passed, but of those in Tailoring two people failed. This was under exceptional circumstances though, and if given a re-run (Level 3 only does practical not written exams) I am sure they will pass. This is because the exam piece of work they had to do (a pair of trousers) was not on their curriculum and is usually taught at the higher levels 2 and 1.

The houses we were building in 2017 were finished in March but as yet unoccupied. This is because Zesco, our national electricity company has no electricity meters ….. despite many complaints we have to wait just like everyone else.

The girls dancing in the
Gothia cup parade in 2016
The girls dancing in the Gothia cup parade in 2016

April saw a visit from four of our German partners from Dortmund who spent some time looking round and talking to us about Chodort. It is evident that we have to make a number of changes to the way we do things as if TEVETA are continuing to sponsor free training to vulnerable people twice a year, this only covers 6 months of the academic year. Also people are reluctant to sign up for a year and achieve levels 1 or 2 if they can hang back and get free training, so our numbers of year students are greatly reduced.

Our volunteer Jakob Zenger is making his mark, not only for his skill in mechanics and starting up our facebook page, but now in bee keeping. We have 2 hives in the garden and around October I am told we can look forward to some lovely honey, I continue to be delighted with the way Jane is running play4all. This year sees another round of the Gothia Youth Cup. Some of you may remember her touching letter about the 5 young girls who went to Sweden in 2016 as part of the Zambian team. Well. This year 3 of our boys have been chosen. This is a remarkable feat for a small no-nothing little township where half the inhabitants have no electricity or running water. The tournament is in July and I am sure we will be hearing from Jane about the further adventures of Play4all’s footballers. Here are the links:

On a sad note, today I am going to the funeral of Muchinta Mukupa. He was a 21 year old who was top of his class in last year’s computer intake. He had been complaining of stomach pains for about a week and a few hours after being taken to hospital died at the weekend. I can’t help comparing to the health care in the UK where I am sure this sort of event is extremely uncommon, partly because of the facilities in our hospitals but partly because we are generally much more aware of health issues and have better access to doctors than here in Zambia.

Jet (left) by the gate with Rocky
Jet (left) by the gate with Rocky

Finally to the events of last night, when I was woken by Jet barking, I got up to let him out and immediately he ran to our 3 meter high gate and I saw a youth straddled on top of it. What are you doing I shouted (trying to compete with Jet) amazingly instead of running away he stayed and pleaded with me for several minutes just saying he was hungry and wanted food. Now I am not so naive as to think he was going to raid my radishes, but that sort of excuse speaks volumes in itself.

Items for Prayer:

  • That the play4all boy’s trip to Sweden will be as fruitful as the one in 2016
  • For the grieving Mukupa family and many like them.
  • That we will be successful in our tender for a 3rd lot of sponsored training
  • That our houses will soon have electricity metres and be ready to rent!
  • For the improvement in healthcare in Zambia
  • For a reduction in inflation (currently 20%)

Items for Praise:

  • The completion of the new houses (almost)
  • For the inclusion of Chodort in the first TEVTA programme in 2018
  • For the good work of the guard dogs ( both at home and at the classrooms)
  • For the new Chodort website by David Horch (last year’s volunteer)
  • For the positive influence Zambia has had on Jakob and vice versa

With every good wish to you all,

Jenny Featherstone

UPDATE (Sep 2018): Since this newsletter times are getting tougher for Jenny as Principal at Chodort College.
  • Last week the Vice-Principal was buried after a short illness - imagine the grief and the gap in administration.
  • TEVETA, a body that sponsors and funds training for vulnerable people twice a year, is not going to do so for Chodort College for the next session. People have been holding back on enrolment, hoping for free training so, now, there is a shortage of students - imagine the fragility of the tutors' jobs.
  • The government of Zambia has just increased the minimum wage (normally a good thing) and this means that for employers in a charitable foundation, this presents an almost impossible burden each month - imagine the effect of this good/bad news.

Please keep the mission in your heart and prayers.

UPDATE (Oct 2018): Jenny spoke to the congregation on video on Harvest Sunday covering the situation at Chodart College.
  • Regarding grants, she is trying other sources of support.
  • Regarding courses, she is looking to buy sewing machines for the Tailoring Dept. and is hoping to be given authority for early Nursing Training.
  • Regarding the vacancy now of vice-principal, there is interest from someone with experience in church work as a bishop and in accountancy, both of which would bring expertise to the post.

Jenny anticipates returning to the U.K. next summer and would be happy to meet with us. She is to retire at that time but will settle into a consultancy post-on the campus (in fact , in bungalow no. 8 built by the Construction Dept). With her long service in teaching, admin. and social care, and with many contacts all over Zambia over the years, she will have much advice and guidance to offer.

Proceeds from the offering taken on Harvest Sunday came to just over £519, more than enough to cover the purchase of the desired sewing machine, estimated at £300. Jenny has acknowledged the gift from Bennochy with great gratitude and will up date us with developments in next Newsletter.