An Outing with KF Students

I am a student at Ibex Hill School who recently wrote the national Grade Nine exams and am being sponsored by the Kucetekela Foundation. Our country, Zambia is one of the poorest countries in Africa making it difficult for its citizens to support their children in school. Nevertheless, not all hope is lost. At least a light is twinkling at the end of the tunnel with the introduction of such an organization as Kucetekela Foundation. Young people can now breathe a sigh of relief for the new dawn of civilization has clocked.

The foundation is headed by Mr. Oliver M. Barry, Mrs. Florence Nkowane (the Executive Director) and Mr. Simasiku Mukena (the Finance Officer). Their mission is to develop leaders and create hope in Zambia by empowering academically promising but financially disadvantaged children with high quality education and guidance to enable them contribute and compete successfully in life.

On the second day of January 2007, I had a rare privilege of attending one of the fun days out at Fountain of Hope, located in the heart of Lusaka. Fountain of Hope is a home and school for orphans and the less privileged in the society. One of the objectives of our visit was to help restore hope in the children at the center and letting them know that they are not the only ones in that situation.

On this tour, Mrs. Vasco was our tour guide. First he took us around the classes where he explained a number of things to us. He said that there was a shortage of classes and the furniture was also very old. One shameful reality was the fact that three grades had to meet in one classroom. This cuts down the number of learning hours and lengthens the time in which the syllabus has to be completed. We later moved to the dormitories. The center has two dormitories. The first dormitory is used by the new recruits from the streets. It has twenty-two beds nicely made. The second one was the main dormitory with twenty-four beds, which were also nicely made. The sad thing was that on Saturdays and Sundays, this dormitory is turned into an entertainment hall.

We proceeded to the kitchen where we met the cooks, Mrs. Banda and Mrs. Siyanga. They told us how they prepare the meals and what kinds of meals are prepared on which days. For instance, on Mondays, they prepare porridge or bread for breakfast, Nshima and kapenta for lunch and Nshima and soya pieces for supper. The cooks later took us to the dining hall of the centre, which accommodates forty-six students. They also said that the dining hall will be expanded in future in order to accommodate more students.

Mr. Vasco then took us to the clinic, where street children with minor illnesses are attended to. Whilst at the clinic we were told that serious cases are transferred to Kamwala Clinic where the children were treated free of charge. We were also told that the clinic also treats minor illnesses in the community at a fee of one thousand per patient. This money is used to purchase more medicine for the clinic and the rest is spent on food for the street children.

We were then taken to the most beautiful destination, the library. Before entering the library, we were asked to wash our hands for hygienic purposes. Inside, the books were neatly arranged is levels. The first level was the learners’ stage, which consists of books with more pictures than words. The second level consisted of books with 50% pictures and 40% words and then the last level had novels for the students who were better readers. Mr. Vasco later told us that the books once used, were to be placed in a basket to make it easier for the library staff to place them back on the shelves and in the right sections.

While in the library, Mr. Tanda gave a short but inspiring talk on career guidance and his life history. He was quick to state that it was good to have a dream and set goals in one’s life. As they say “Everything starts with a dream.” Even big companies like Barclays started with a dream. As we were going out of the library we saw a puzzling sight. We found a boy who was acting strange, to be honest; he gave me quite a scare. Mr. Vasco later explained that he had sneaked out of school of sniff a drug known as Bostick made from glue. The drug keeps the street children warm and confident in everything they do but unfortunately, it has rather diverse effects.

After this we went to the art room where we found beautiful paintings done by the street children themselves. Some to the paintings are sold to the Lusaka tourist at an amount as high as K10, 000.00 that is used on necessities such as food, paint, drugs and other commodities. While in the art room, I made friends with a local street child named Robby but his friends call him “Midso”. He told me that paintbrushes were not enough to cater for all the students. We later played some basketball with street children. We thought because these children came from the streets, they would be a walk-over but we had a surprise coming. We lost ten baskets to nil. After saying our goodbyes, we proceeded to Arcade’s shopping Mall for our lunch and later went to watch a movie.

The whole experience gave us a chance to see how other children who are less privileged go on with their lives. I would love to see a situation where the government partners with well wishers in most areas of Zambia and not only in Lusaka to form centers such as Fountain of Hope.

I would also love to take this opportunity to thank Kucetekela Foundation for the good work they are doing. Most of us would have been thieves or even worse if it weren’t for them. I wish you and your families God’s blessings and good health so that you can continue with your good work. I also thank Mrs. Nkowane, Mr. Simasiku and Mr. Lumbama for planning such a nice and educative program for us.

Dennis Kayebeta