Monday, 9 April 2018

Introducing Ireen Kunda Mwanza, the New Headteacher for Janna Community school

Ireen Kunda Mwanza is the new headteacher for Janna. Ireen born from a family of seven (7) is married with two children both schooling at Janna community school.

Smiling Ireen
Ireen and her two children

Ireen who has been working for Janna for 12 years got her inspiration of becoming a teacher way back when she was appointed as sunday school teacher at church. It was then that she had a conviction of making a difference in the lives of children and just become a mentor through teaching. 

She is very excited about her elevation as head teacher and appreciates the confidence that people have shown in her. She adds that, ‘sometimes it feels like no one notices your hard work.’ She believes that all leadership comes from God and is excited to see how she will work with other staff members in her new position. She was quick to add that the new role entails a lot of learning which she was willing to do as she is always looking at making herself better with excellence in all she does.

Asked about how she feels about the high score that the school recorded in last year’s grade seven exams, she attributes the success to every teacher’s effort. She hopes that people will begin to appreciate the positive difference that the community schools are making in the educational sector in Zambia.

Asked where she sees herself in the next 5 years, she responds with a smile and says ‘definitely a better teacher and head than I am now, as am always looking at ways of becoming better each day that comes.’

In her spare time away from school, she loves to spend time with her family and teach her children how to bake.
Ireen's Daughter

Ireen's Son
Her favourite food is Nshima and Chicken.

She dislikes people who are always complaining because complaining has never changed a thing on its on without action.

By Linda Kaluba

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Delicious Donut Fundraiser!

Every year Beyond Ourselves awards secondary school bursaries to our former primary school graduates so the most academically gifted and the most financially unable students are able to continue with their education. We currently award 120 bursaries each year.

This year we took a look back on how some of the bursary students have grown since their time in our schools. It’s lovely to see the way these former pupils are maturing and it’s exciting to see them continue to pursue their academic dreams. Just this year one of the students we support had such high exam results that he was chosen to go to a more prestigious government school!

The bursaries given cost £75/$130CDN. They cover school fees to attend local government schools as well as help with costs of books and school uniform. These bursaries don’t come under our child sponsorship programme so we always fundraise for them separately.

Over the last couple of weeks a small group from Canada have been making donuts and selling them to raise money specifically for these bursaries. They made over 70 dozen donuts (840+ donuts!) and raised just over $4300CDN! Wow!! This $4300 provides the means for 33 students to attend secondary school! Amazing!

If you didn’t get a chance to eat any delicious donuts and make a donation but would still like to help support a secondary school student continue their education, you can make a donation by clicking here.

Thank you to those in Canada for making and eating so many donuts and for giving so generously!!

Thursday, 22 February 2018

A Big Thank You & The Beyond Ourselves Golf Day

Thank You

Well thank you so much to all those who supported our Christmas text book appeal. Many of you bought much needed text books which will be so helpful to the children at the schools we partner with. We hope that the cards we sent you instead of a physical gift were well received.

As much as dogs aren’t ‘just for Christmas’, alternative gifts are also definitely not just for Christmas. We have honed our Alternative Gifts page down as we have recently evaluated how best to partner with the community when it comes to Alternative Gifts and endeavoured to find a better way to resource and empower those in need.

To this end, we will be working in even closer partnerships with the schools to identify the most vulnerable individuals and families who are in a crisis situation, and resource them accordingly. Any donations that we have received for Alternative Gifts that have as yet not been distributed will be placed in this crisis fund for the community. If you have any questions about your previous Alternative Gift purchases then please do contact us.

Please do Click here to visit that section of our website for any alternative gifts you may like to buy. It’s great to send gift cards to those ‘who you can’t think what to buy for’.

Beyond Ourselves Golf Day

The days are getting lighter and that means that the fair weather golfers will start brushing down their clubs. We have the perfect occasion – the annual Beyond Ourselves Golf Day. We have changed the venue to Crews Hill Golf Club. Please save the date and either come as a team or an individual. Full details will be out shortly. 

Please contact for more details.

If you’re not a golfer, please come to the post golf party/BBQ. Always good fun and a great fundraiser.

BBQ, Kazza’s cocktails (!), great raffle prizes and an auction.

Tickets will be out shortly. 

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Introducing Sheba

At the start of this year we welcomed a new member of staff to the Beyond Ourselves team in Zambia. Sheba Kafwimbi Moyo is a Zambian Headteacher who has been working in Community Schools since she graduated in 2005.

Sheba is taking over as Education Empowerment Co-ordinator from Emily Pearse, who leaves Beyond Ourselves at the end of February after three and a half years in the role.

We asked a few questions of Sheba for this blog in order that we can all get to know her a little better.

Sheba, tell us a bit about how you came to become a teacher.

"I come from a family of teachers. My mother is a teacher of English and Religious studies and my late father was a lecturer at a Bible college for most of my childhood. In a way, they both inspired me to become a teacher.

When I completed Secondary School I received a scholarship to study as a Early Childhood Teacher Trainer at a college in my hometown, and I've never looked back since. Teaching, training and supporting teachers is my passion, and something that I see myself doing for the most of my career."

Tell us a bit about your family/home life.

"My husband, Donald, is a Pastor and also works as an accountant. Together we have three beautiful girls, Rhema, Lusako and Tikondwe who are 6, 4 and 2 respectively. We also live with 3 other girls, an adult and two teenagers whom we look after as part of our extended family.

Our home life revolves around parenting, serving as assistant pastors in our church and work. So as you can imagine, life can get quite busy!"

The Moyo Ladies

Sheba and Donald

Why have you joined Beyond Ourselves?

"I joined Beyond Ourselves because I have a passion for education, more especially literacy in disadvantaged communities. When I came to know of Beyond Ourselves, I discovered that the organisation had a similar passion. I feel that through Beyond Ourselves I have the opportunity to have a greater impact in improving literacy levels in Zambia.

This past week we've conducted literacy training with teachers and representatives from the Ministry of General Education as part of the Jolly Phonics Pilot we've been commissioned to organise. It's been quite an experience meeting the teachers and headteachers and seeing their enthusiasm and willingness to learn how they can be more effective in teaching reading and writing. These are the types of experiences that energise me and that I can look forward to being a part of through Beyond Ourselves."

What do you do for fun?

"I enjoy family outings, going for picnics and family road trips. My hobbies include reading, listening to music, cooking and baking. I am also a singer/songwriter."

By Dan Whitcombe
- Dan and his wife oversee the work of Beyond Ourselves in Zambia and have been living in Ndola since 2013.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Happy 2018!

It seems impossible to start a new year without thinking ahead to what that year will all entail. As I look at our 2018 wall calendar in our office here in Zambia, I see the school terms mapped out and the dates of teams and visitors and am aware of the work and planning that needs to be done, I have a sense of expectation of the various training events that will take place, I already feel the sadness of a colleague and friend who will be moving back to the UK, I anticipate the excitement of another colleague having a baby and so much more…

The first exciting event of the year has already happened for us as a team. We have had a new member of staff join our Zambia team as of the beginning of the month, Sheba Moyo. Sheba will be involved in improving standards at the schools we partner with but will also be facilitating the Jolly Phonics pilot this year. We are excited about what she will bring to our team and to the schools we work with.

As we embark on the Jolly Phonics pilot this year, we feel we are sailing into new territory for us as a team. We are well versed in mentorship and in the teaching of literacy but expanding this to 22 schools is a big project for us. But, we are convinced Jolly Phonics is a fantastic resource and with the right training and mentorship, this resource could impact thousands of children in Zambia. It’s worth venturing into unchartered territory when we consider the potential positive impact of this.

The ongoing mentorship and support we give to the three community schools we partner with, couldn’t be closer to our hearts. Every year the head teachers we work with grow in their roles and we have a sense of anticipation as we look ahead to this coming year as we think about their leadership. They continue to raise the standards in their schools and be leaders in their communities.

We plan on investing time and energy into making some culturally relevant reading resources this year. This is something we’ve chipped away at for a couple of years now but feel like this is the year we will put our heads down to get this done. Together with the Jolly Phonics resources, these reading books could really impact literacy. It is energising to think about this potential.

We have four secondary school teams visiting Zambia this year, two from schools who have never sent a team here before. Between the four teams there will be about 65 young people that will visit us. We look forward to seeing these pupils engage in new experiences and have their eyes opened to new ways of doing things but also have their worldview's challenged.

All that said, this year hasn’t started as we had hoped and planned! There has been an outbreak of cholera in Zambia. The outbreak has mainly been in Lusaka but there have been confirmed cases throughout Zambia, including the cities in which we live and work. The latest numbers are that there have been at least 2700 people infected with cholera. Because of this, all schools (nursery to tertiary) have been ordered by the government to be closed for the month of January and there are also restrictions on public gatherings of people for events such as weddings, funerals and church. With these measures in place, as well as several others, it is everyone’s hope that the outbreak will be contained quickly.

All of the schools we work with are closed for all of January and we had seven days of Jolly Phonics training planned for this month which have needed to be postponed. As a team we are continuing to work with the head teachers this month and are focusing on writing up some school policies as well as doing additional planning for the term ahead. We are also taking a bit of time to homeschool our own children who are also not in school this month!

If you are one to pray, please pray this outbreak is contained quickly so people stay well and so schools can resume in February. Thank you!

Here’s to an exciting and adventurous 2018!

By Melissa Whitcombe

Friday, 1 December 2017

Buy The Book

The teachers at the schools we partner with daily commit themselves to teaching their classes despite facing challenges of limited classroom resources. In 2014 the Zambian government made significant changes to the Zambian Curriculum and over the last few years the government have rolled out a wide range of textbooks to assist in its implementation. Unfortunately, textbooks are expensive for schools to purchase so teachers often only have one or two textbooks per class for up to 45 pupils. This means that children either crowd around textbooks that are available, or the teacher ends up using significant portions of the lesson copying large bodies of the text, including diagrams, onto the chalkboard for children to gain access to the exercise the teacher wants them to complete. 

This Christmas, Beyond Ourselves is running a campaign especially to help schools in Zambia purchase these most valued of resources.

One textbook for just £5.00 (

A set of five textbooks for £25.00 (

This Christmas, would you gift a book to Zambia?

Do it, Buy the Book, Change a Life.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Huge Potential of Jolly Phonics

We could be on the cusp of something significant.

In the last 18 months Beyond Ourselves has grown links with Jolly Phonics (a literacy programme based in the UK which has had significant success worldwide). In the past Jolly Phonics has given us some resources to use in the schools we’re working with, but last February the founder, Christopher Jolly, came out to Zambia to explore the potential for how Zambia could benefit from Jolly Phonics.

Long story short, in September 2017 Christopher and myself presented to the Permanent Secretary for General Education, who then commissioned a couple of pilots of Jolly Phonics in 9 schools in Ndola and further 9 in Lusaka. Beyond Ourselves is taking on the role of managing these pilots, making sure they happen and trying to ensure that the pilots are as effective as possible.

Meeting with the Permanent Secretary for Education about the Jolly Phonics Pilot we're overseeing in Zambia

           Chris Jolly explaining how Jolly Phonics could transform literacy levels across Zambia        
If things proceed on schedule (and that’s a big IF, the road to success is often bumpy and potholed here) we could be in for a significant year as we see an impact in the literacy levels of these schools.

Jolly phonics has already travelled this journey in Nigeria where it is now part of the National Curriculum after proving itself in a number of successful pilots. Therefore it feels as though it is not unreasonable to be excited about the potential that we could be involved with raising literacy levels of the nation.

As I said, we could be on the cusp of something significant.

By Dan Whitcombe
Dan and his wife oversee the work of Beyond Ourselves in Zambia and have been living in Ndola since 2013.