Thursday, 15 September 2016

The Term Ahead…

The Beyond Ourselves team here in Zambia are looking forward to a full and exciting term ahead. 

This term we will be focussing on our roles and responsibilities as a charity, as well as the Community Schools’ roles and responsibilities and how our relationship will develop. Many of our tasks and activities here stay the same but the longer we work together in partnership with the local communities the more we learn about what we can change and what is working well.

The Zambian government have recently produced some guidelines detailing exactly what schools, leaders and their supporting charity’s responsibilities are. This has been really helpful and so this Friday we will be meeting with our partner schools’ Senior Leadership Teams to go through these guidelines.

We see a large part of our role here as promoting sustainability in continuous education development. On Monday we are hosting a “Waste to Toys” workshop. This will be run by a South African organisation who are passionate about using local resources and waste materials to make toys and school resources. We have had the opportunity to offer this workshop to other charities and community schools in our area and are hoping to have 12 different schools and organisations represented on the day.

During October we play host to Cranleigh school 6th form team and then an ‘Admin team’. Both teams will help us to interview and collect information on all the children registered in our schools. We use this data - changes in health and weight etc. - to inform us of the benefits of the feeding programme and where there are additional needs.

In Zambia, Grade 7 is the last year of primary education and so the children will be taking their final exams in November. This term for them means plenty of extra work and hard revision. Passing means a chance to attend a secondary school and passing with a good result means a better choice of secondary school.

The 5th December marks the end of term and the start of the ‘Summer holidays’ for our schools. The Beyond Ourselves team will then start to look ahead to the new school year.

Keep posted for more detailed posts of our upcoming events…

Friday, 9 September 2016

Mama Mimi’s

At Beyond Ourselves we believe that to see people truly released from poverty there needs to be an investment in business and social enterprise. Our hope is that as these are set up in each school community they will provide the skills training, employment and finance that can not only help sustain our partner schools in the future but also contribute to wider community transformation.

So, as part of our exploration in this area, earlier this summer we were delighted to welcome a team from Mama Mimi’s, South Africa. Mama Mimi’s is a fantastic enterprise developing micro-franchise bakeries. Ross and Richman joined us in Ndola for a few days to demonstrate not only how their oven works, but how their business model operates and the impact it can have on a community.

We gathered some of our team and some key local people to be trained by Ross and Richman. Together we discussed the best recipes, crunched the numbers and checked the feasibility of running a pilot bakery at one of our schools. Oh, and we ate a LOT of bread!

It was clear to us that these bakeries successfully help to create an entrepreneurial mindset in the individual bakers. But more than this, as the baker will often spend their profits in their community it benefits the community as a whole. This ‘multiplier effect’ is the silver bullet needed for economic change.

Ross tells this story to explain the effect:

“Roughly it works like this. I have a gardener that I pay R100 cash to for his day’s work. On his way home he can now buy a pair of shoes from a township cobbler. On his way home the cobbler has his hair done in a container hairdresser using the R100. The hairdresser then buys two cooked chickens on the street on her way home with the R100. It’s all the same R100 but it had a multiplier effect of four, or the equivalent of R400.

If the gardener didn't get the work and the R100, none of the others would have benefited. In a South African Township the scenario looks like this: a baker makes R150 profit per day, 25 loaves of bread were bought by customers at R2 cheaper than a competitive loaf. This creates another saving to the community of R50, added together it equals R200. This R200 now gets spent within the community four times = R800 per day or R20,000 per month.

What if we had 20,000 bakers?

This all means that there now can be more hairdressers, cobblers and people cooking meat on the street...”

The success of Mama Mimi’s is not only in the profit that the individual bakers make, but in the long term effect it has on the entire community. We are excited to be exploring this model by having a pilot bakery starting at Janna School this term. The bakers involved have just this week completed a business course in preparation for their new venture. We are thrilled to be offering this opportunity to local people in the communities we partner with in Zambia.

Huge thanks to Cranleigh School for raising the funds to run this pilot and, if successful, to roll it out on a wider scale within the communities we work in.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Hellen B Muleya

Today we feature Hellen Muleya from Chimwemwe in Kitwe. Hellen lives at Greater Joy School along with the rest of her talented and hard working family. Her husband, Victor, is an architect and has designed many projects locally including the new proposed ablution block and kitchen area at the school as well as their new house just outside the grounds of Greater Joy School that they are all hoping to move into soon. Victor preaches in the church on site and the whole family have a strong belief in the Christian ethos. They have four children, Natasha, 18, who has finished school and is hoping to go on to university to study to be a Doctor. Victor Junior is 16, and is a really talented musician who plays many instruments including drums, keyboard and bass guitar in the church each week. He is hoping to go on to be a professional musician when he finishes school. His brother, Angel, 11 is also a musician who plays and sings in the church but he has high hopes of being a Lawyer. Angel is in Grade 7 at Greater Joy. The youngest member of the family is Grace, aged 8 and also at Greater Joy in Grade 3. Although still young and loves playing with her dolls, she has said she wants to be a nurse.

Hellen with her youngest children, Grace and Angel

Hellen is an exceptional dressmaker and Tailor and has opened a small shop in Chimwemwe where she grew up and where her Mother still lives. She was taught sewing at school so alongside the clothes that she makes to order and sell she also makes very bright and colourful clothes for the Praise Team at her Church and for the choir of which she is a member.

Finishing a brightly coloured jacket for the praise team at church
Because of this she was asked if she could make the uniforms for the children at Greater Joy School some six years ago when the school opened. Her busiest time for the school uniforms is November and December so that all the new children who arrive at the start of the new school year in January have a uniform to wear. Obviously uniforms wear out or are outgrown so some are made all year. Hellen goes to the material shops or the markets in Chimwemwe and Kitwe to buy her materials of which Beyond Ourselves pay for the materials for Greater Joy school. Each metre length for a shirt is K12.50 and for the trousers K15.00. With the extra money from Beyond Ourselves she has managed to buy a few extra “fittings” for the new house.   

Measuring and trying on the uniforms at school
Besides all the sewing, Hellen also looks after her home, cooks meals for the family and ensures that all is kept clean. On top of this both parents act as caretakers for the church so I would like to thank Hellen for taking some time out of her very busy day to talk to me about herself and this wonderful family.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Kitchen Workshop

Since starting to partner with Community Schools in 2007 we've helped the Head Teachers facilitate countless staff meetings and teacher training workshops, and have also created many opportunities for the teachers from all the schools we work with to meet their counterparts and spend time learning alongside, and from, one another.

It's been on our heart for a while to see the staff from the other areas of the schools get the same opportunity to undertake some professional development, and this week we managed to get the catering staff together for the day.

Disproving the proverb about too many cooks, we had a great day together. It was for a chance for them to share good practise, to troubleshoot different challenges they face and to receive some training on food nutrition and how to prepare healthier meals for the children under their care.
Rhi Cross from Arise facilitating the workshop with Joyce's assistance in translating
The participates really valued this time together and engaged in discussions with great interest, drawing on their experiences to support and advise one another.

In mixed school groups and whilst cutting up vegetables, the catering staff
talk through their menus and identify the different food groups present
Together we prepared our lunch using preparation techniques passed on by our guest from Arise, Rhi Cross. Arise work with orphans, vulnerable children and their carers in a community just outside Ndola. If you'd like to find out more about their work and ways you can support them click on the following link.


Margaret, Head Cook fro Greater Joy, enjoying looking on whilst
Rhi begins the scrambled egg
Kawama's Eunice, visibly shocked by how straight forward
scrambled eggs can be as Rhi strikes a finishing pose
Blackson, from Janna, gives a thumbs up of approval
Mary from Janna excited to try scrambled eggs for the first time
The catering staff from our partner schools getting ready to enjoy the results of their work
Smiles at the end of an enjoyable time together

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Getting Crafty

We’re always looking for ways to empower individuals. We do this largely in and through the schools we work with and in the communities that surround these schools. We had an idea a few months ago to start sewing some crafty things to help provide a bit of employment for local women but also with the hopes to sell these items to raise funds for Beyond Ourselves. 

There is a former pupil of Janna School, Norah, that I knew I wanted to give this sort of opportunity to. She has difficult home situation and is part of a family who regularly receives food parcels through Beyond Ourselves. I was interested in trying to teach her how to do some hand stitching as part of some of the ideas we had. We started with the basics and she has really taken off with it. She’s learnt a new skill and is earning a bit of money for her family as part of it. She seems to really be enjoying this work and we hope to get her paired with a local seamstress later this year so she can learn how to use a sewing machine as well.

We employed another woman part-time, Phyllis, to start working with us on a few different craft ideas, one of which is cushion covers. Norah does the hand stitching and Phyllis assembles the cushions.

We’ve been really excited about the results and a couple of months ago had a table at a local market day and have we have sold some items to some visitors passing through Zambia. We’ve also been making bunting, reusable gift bags, iPad cases and a few other bits and pieces.

We hope to start selling some of these items on our online store soon. We’ll be sure to let you know when they become available!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Second Term Visitors

During the second term of the school year here, we have had a constant stream of visitors here in Zambia. Each person brings something unique to the work here and takes away something different too. Here are some reflections from the Dulson family (l (who were on a 5 week sabbatical here) and Tom ( (an intern who lived with us for just over 2 months) on their time in Zambia.

What was the highlight of your time here?

Dulson’s: This is so hard to say as everything was a highlight. For us spending time in the orphanage was amazing as it was so wonderful to see the babies smiling and laughing. We really were blessed by being part of Ndola Christian Fellowship Church and we felt honoured to be included in the Beyond Ourselves family. Seeing Zebras and Giraffes on their turf was also pretty cool and we were also very fortunate to see Victoria falls - Gods creation at its finest!

Tom: My highlights of my time in Zambia cannot be put into a few lines. The experience is just amazing. One highlight that really shines through for me is Victoria falls, the whole area has a sense of greatness and it’s a really beautiful part of Zambia. I also got real pleasure from working alongside Zambians. We had a lot of laughs, mainly at my expense. In the schools especially, the staff brought a huge amount of joy and dedication to their work.

What did you think about the work Beyond Ourselves does in Zambia?

Tom: Beyond Ourselves provide so may benefits for the community schools, whether through professional support or through helping to empower the local community. For example, at Kawama, Beyond Ourselves have worked with the community to build classrooms, toilets and a borehole, not only benefiting students and teachers but the entire community, allowing fresh water access for all.

Dulson’s: We were impressed at how Beyond Ourselves are valued and included into the communities they work with and to see the varied projects they are working in to see the lives of Zambians enhanced. We love the fact that the Beyond Ourselves team don't just come in and takeover but instead empower the Zambians and work alongside them.

What was the biggest challenge during your time in Zambia?

Dulson’s: This is a tough question but we suppose it would be resisting the urge to see a need and instantly take over and feel we could meet that need, which then may not be sustainable. It was also a challenge not to bring one of the orphans home with us!

Tom: My biggest challenge whilst in Zambia was the fact that there are not very many people there that are my age who were in the Beyond Ourselves Zambia social groups. I also missed playing cricket!

What do you miss most about Zambia?

Tom: I miss the people of Zambia and of the Beyond Ourselves Zambia community, I love the relaxed and happy lifestyle, that you just do not get in London.

Dulson’s: Oh we miss everything. We miss the people we met and especially the Beyond Ourselves team and their friends, who made a real effort to include us and made us feel instantly like we were part of their family. We greatly miss the Zambian way of life and the friendliness of the people there. We hope and pray one day God will ask us to return!