Working with the School
Last week I sat down with the Head Teacher of Mbayi Middle Basic School ( the government was just starting to build it when I arrived ) to formally discuss how we - the teachers , you and I -could best work together within their daily program to improve the lives of children. I had approached the teachers in recent weeks with the proposition of supplying seeds/cuttings/suckers to them so that, on school grounds, tended by students, food could be grown to feed those experiencing hunger - which are many - on a daily basis. I was thrilled to find out that not only is land available, and the staff enthusiastic, but that the school curriculum in Zambia already offers classes and programs targeting survival skills, health and nutrition. ( I've noticed that the word survival appears frequently in literature and conversation concerning the needs of children here. Mere survival is a major worry! ) Our school in Mbayi, however, is lacking the funds to get something started in these areas of concern, so staff were delighted to hear that children at a Sunday Church School in Canada had raised money which they specifically asked to be put towards fruit and vegetable gardens.
Households in Mbayi struggle to grow enough food so, sadly, not being able to access the quantity and quality required means that hunger ( some do not eat daily ) and undernourishment are a way of life for many, children have trouble concentrating in school, and even withdraw altogether. In the section of learning called Production Unit pupils will be taught land preparation, planting and caring for crops and fruit trees. Teachers will identify malnourished and hungry children who can then be fed with the produce grown in their own field. Some will be sold in order to sustain the class and perhaps even purchase small school requisites for orphans and vulnerable pupils.
I'm eager to begin this exciting new intervention funded by kids in Canada and implemented by pupils in Mbayi. Soon the children will begin cultivation and the learning of skills that will improve their lives now and well into the future. Many, many thanks to these youths for caring and sharing.