As another productive year at Baraka draws to a close, I wanted to get in touch to keep you updated with what we’ve been doing over the last 12 months.
I particularly wanted to share with you what has been happening at the Learning Centre we've established in Central Province, Zambia.
What a year!
The Learning Centre (LC) is progressing very well and creating quite a stir locally. We are being approached regularly by local schools for help, and children are coming in every day. Local dignitaries are also starting to take notice and we have the backing of the local council and the Provincial Minister.
Our focus continues to be improving the standard of education in the area and maximising the number of children who have access to this learning resource. To help deliver this we have appointed Michael Phiri, formally a Baraka sponsored student, to run the educational programmes. We are very proud to be able to appoint Michael in this role and it reflects our self-help philosophy and promotes ownership of our projects to local Zambians.
Joining Michael will be our new Education Programme Manager, Eleanor Mitchell-Heggs, who has just arrived in Zambia from the UK. Michael and Eleanor will be supported by a team of four, which we will be expanding as we improve the infrastructure and add more programmes.
This year we have completed construction of the IT Centre, which was officially opened on 29th November, complete with 30 donated laptops. Work has also been finished on the caretaker's house, now occupied, and the store room is fully functional.
We have also recently erected a water tower, installed some vegetable beds, planted trees and bushes, built a compost area, and added a small outdoor, shaded classroom that has proved very popular with our children.
The Learning Centre has already received over 2,000 visitors...but this is just the start! We are estimating that 10,000 visitors will benefit from the Learning Centre in 2020, and fully anticipate getting up to 20,000 visitors within the next two to three years. We feel we can make a dramatic impact on the education standards in the area.
We have been concentrating on basic reading and writing, as these skills are essential for all Zambian children to master in order to pass their grade exams. Raising teaching standards is also very important. We've already run a number of successful teacher training sessions, led by UK teachers, and will be developing this aspect of our programme.
In the coming year, we hope to be able to purchase the land next door to grow our own crops. This will help reduce our operational expenses but will also be used to develop our Young Farmers Club that we have just started. We also plan to support and strengthen the local community by targeting vulnerable and illiterate adults with basic literacy sessions as well as workshops, such as financial management and entrepreneurship.
All of this progress, and what we have planned for the future, costs money of course, and none of it would be possible without the generous support of the people who donate to Baraka. If you have donated over the last year, or been involved in any of our fundraising events, may I take this opportunity to say a huge thank you.
If you feel that the work of Baraka is something that you would like to support, and can spare a little something at this festive time of year, you can make a donation by clicking on the button below. Every single penny will make a huge difference to the lives of children in Zambia, and will be very gratefully received.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and all the very best for the New Year.