Building Opportunities in Rural Zambia
In Zambia only two-thirds of primary aged children have the opportunity to attend school. In the remote region of Lukulu even less children have access to education. Estimates show 98% of the local population is impoverished. It is in this harsh environment that two courageous Loreto Sisters have lived for the last ten years.
Australian Sister, Elizabeth Donnan ibvm, works in Zambia helping local village communities build new classrooms and improve their educational capacity while Irish Sister, Patricia Hanvey, manages income generation and health projects, including one which gives a life-saving milk formula to vulnerable babies.
‘Community Schools’ are a recognised part of the Zambian educational landscape. Despite the odds, these schools, started by local untrained voluntary teachers using minimal resources, are gradually being absorbed into the government school network. This is a step in the right direction for the Lukulu District which is in one of the poorest and least developed Provinces of Zambia.
MWIA and the Loreto global network, have supported these schools in a myriad of ways. One of the most recent projects provides classroom furniture. Many students, if lucky enough to attend school, are taught in a building constructed by the community using materials from the local bush environment. The thatch roof leaks during the wet season, desks are unstable and the sand floor doesn’t help with stability.
Going where the need is greatest Sr. Elizabeth felt that educational opportunities would be enhanced greatly when the students had an iron sheet roof, a cement floor and well-made desks. Thanks to the generous assistance of one Australian family who continue to offer ongoing support, MWIA has helped to provide timber desks, chairs and blackboards, which are made by local carpenters using timber from the nearby area.
Setting out on this extraordinary journey it was hoped that communities living in this poor region of Zambia would be encouraged to become more self-sufficient and reflect the more recent Mary Ward International Call to sustainability. Sr Elizabeth is pleased to report that: “our role is decreasing as we see the government taking on more responsibility to address the needs of their nation’s most vulnerable.” A great outcome indeed!
Words: Communications Manager, Elouise Hahn