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zambia hope international

Zambia Hope International (ZHI) Takes Hope to Mutakwa Village

By Laura Mushaukwa, Sunday Post – December 3rd 2006

To the north of Lusaka in the bushy landscape of Chief Mungule’s area lies Mutakwa, a village endowed with beautiful flora. As dawn breaks, sound of birds singing and grasshoppers chirping ring through the village, 24 kilometers from Lusaka. It is a special day for the children in this village because the newly constructed nursery school is being opened. The children are very happy because they are going to be accorded a chance to have early childhood training. Many children in many rural Zambia miss out on their childhood because they are sidelined in the provision services such as education. Early childhood training is very cardinal and deprivation at this stage can have serious repercussions on the development of the child.

Countries around the world have coalesced around a set of initiatives known as the millennium development goals (MGDs) in order to reverse the situation for children. Though global progress towards the goals since 2000 has fallen below aspirations in some regions and countries, there is broad consensus that they can still be achieved provided the necessary political will is demonstrated and appropriate action is taken. If the MDGs pertaining to children are realized, they can provide a vital kick start in child development. The move that Zambia Hope International (ZHI), a non governmental organization dealing with the plight of children and the vulnerable groups in society, has made is in line with MDG 2, which calls for every boy and girl to have universal primary education by 2015. Achieving the MDGs, though not the solution to the problems of children, would be an important step in making the world a better place for them to live in. ZHI is the brain child of the nursery school land vocational skill training centre project in Mutakwa Village. ZHI International President, Adamson Musonda explains that the NGO is engaged in other projects aimed at empowering the local community to be self sustainable. “In 2002, ZHI acquired 10 hectares of land indeed to be used to build a nursery school and secondary school in Mutakwa Village”, he says. Musonda points out that the construction exercise has been completed and includes a three classroom block. “85 children have been enrolled at the nursery school, the children were previously housed in a nearby church,” he points out. Musonda adds that a training centre to offer vocational skills such as tailoring and knitting has been constructed just next to the nursery school as a way of empowering local men and women.

The successful story of Mutakwa Village can not be fully told without the mention of Jayesh Tailor, British national, who has been offering financial support to ZHI in a bid to help the people on the fringes of society come out of the shadows. Tailor donated over US$110,000 in cash and material. He has also shipped containers of supplies including a new 440 Massey Ferguson Tractor valued at US$17,500 as well used computer monitors. Tailor has also donated to the children of Mutakwa Village, bicycles, toys, shoes, books, chairs, desks, uniforms and sporting equipment. But what prompted him to come all the way to come all the way from the United Kingdom to help the children in rural Zambia? Tailor says he wants to help out because somebody helped him when he moved from Kenya to United Kingdom.

Education Deputy Minister, Lucy Changwe, who visited the newly constructed nursery school in the village, pays glowing tribute to Tailor and ZHI on the development, saying early childhood education is key to sustainable development. Community Development Deputy Minister, Nicholas Banda describes the move as a positive step in ensuring that vulnerable groups in society live with dignity. In many countries girls are less likely to attend school than boys particularly at higher levels of education. Gender parity for all levels of education, a key target of MDG 3 is an essential component of transforming gender relations and guaranteeing that boys and girls are provided with equal opportunity to reach their potential. The latest United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) report on the state of world children points out that in 2005 54 countries were found to require additional efforts to achieve this goal and need to be supported to undertake the initiatives aimed at achieving equality in education by 2015. Ensuring that every child receives a primary education will require additional resources but goal can not be seen as optional or unattainable. The report suggests that putting every boy and girl in the world in a good quality primary school would cost between US$7 million and US$17 million per year. The benefits of such investment would be immeasurable in terms of the health, productivity and social being of the children. The UNICEF report suggests that only deeper approaches to child development with special attention given to the vulnerable children will enable Zambia fulfill commitments to children and ensure that the MDGs benefit the poorest people. The exclusion of children such as education are un-acceptable and Governments all over the world and other stake holders must not merely pay lip service to these principles but take action. The millennium agenda must therefore be seen as a driving force with 2015 as a stepping stone to providing universal access to essential services. Countries falling behind the MDGs broader aims must work hard to meet them for the sake of the children. Similarly, those countries considered trading the path of meeting specific goals of the MDGs should not rest on their laurels but strive to go beyond the dead line targets to meet the challenges of eliminating disparities in children’s access to education.