Friends of Monze, a Bridgend based charity that is linked to the Monze area in southern Zambia have just rebuilt a fourth school and started building a fifth school.
Deana Owen a retired Health Visitor and School Nurse from the Bridgend area who manages the charity was approached by the local community and Department of Education to look at ways in which the community could work together with Friends of Monze to rebuild the schools.
Deana said: “The five schools were in serious need of rebuilding. By working in partnership with an organisation called Zambia Women and Girls Foundation and with the local Department of Education we were able to bring the community together to help rebuild their own schools, but this was just the start.”
As well as rebuilding the schools Friends of Monze and their partner organisations have been working to develop sustainable food gardens at the schools to make sure that the children are fed properly. The pupils work in the permaculture gardens, so they also learn food growing skills.
Friends of Monze have also teamed up with Cwmbrân based charity Giakonda Solar Schools last summer to install solar powered computers in two schools and provide laptops, projectors and Raspberry Pi computers.
Deana explains: “The Raspberry Pi computers act as Wi-Fi hotspots and are loaded with remote learning information, Wikipedia, science, health, agricultural information which the schools use where there is no internet access. The solar panels also power LED lights, so the schools are also used for adult literacy evening classes.”
A local teacher said: “I’m amazed children in rural schools without even proper roads can touch computers, now the whole community can learn from computers.”
The charity also works with several Monze based organisations to promote menstrual hygiene management, cervical cancer awareness and women’s rights. This is aimed at making sure girls can improve their status in society.
The work of Friends of Monze was supported by Hub Cymru Africa which is funded by the Welsh Government’s Wales for Africa programme.
Cat Jones, Head of Hub Cymru Africa said: “Friends of Monze’s work means that the children in this area are still able to access education, food and even Raspberry Pi technology – which is critical in a country with one of the world’s fastest growing populations*.”
Friends of Monze are now fundraising for books for the schools. Bridgend Quakers held their annual Garden Party on 1st September and generously gave money raised to buy books. They had a stall at Roots Street Festival in Bridgend on 15th September. They sold crafts made in Zambia and crafts made and donated by people in Wales, to raise money to buy school books.