Tuesday, 8 August 2017

We Welcome Linda to the Beyond Ourselves Team!

Hi, My name is Linda Kaluba Zimba and I am pleased to be the newest member of the Beyond Ourselves Zambia team. I was born and grew up in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, and come from a family of four siblings in family of 4. My father died when I was 9 and my mum passed away a year later. I understood then that education was very important to enable me to look to the future. The four of us moved in with our Auntie and she made us all continue with schooling. Today I thank God for my auntie because without her maybe my story would have been different today.

In 2009, I married Archie Zimba and moved to Ndola where I started studying for my Law degree (long distance education) whilst working for an Organisation called Seeds of Hope International Partnerships (SHIP). I worked with them for 8 years and rose to the position of Administration Manager, before I left to join Beyond Ourselves in February of this year.

At Beyond Ourselves, am proud to say am the first Zambian employee and I do Administration and also community work. I have always had a passion for helping people in my own little way because personally I have also benefited from people that have assisted me through my life. My role at Beyond Ourselves connects me to many others I really enjoy having an opportunity to work within the schools. My goal in life is to leave this world a better place than I found it. With my experiences as a child and losing my parents I would love to inspire even one child in a similar situation and help them.

When not working, I like to spend some time with my family at home and visiting relatives. I take advantage of my free time to be with my 3 children playing and creating memories with them. 

I also love travelling and one day I would like to see other places in the world and especially visit UK, USA and Japan. I would enjoy seeing and appreciate other people’s cultures and learn from them. So far I have only visited South Africa and certainly enjoyed my time there.

My other interests are listening to Gospel music, watching movies and reading.

I don’t really have a favourite food but I do enjoy eating Nshima (Zambia’s staple food) with Ifinkubala (Caterpillars), something I am sure many of the people reading this would not try. When we all go out as a family on an occasional dinner out we really enjoy pizza.

One of my pet hates is when some one is filled with self-pity and to such I always encourage them to look to their dreams because no matter how tough life is, the sun will eventually shine in one way or another.

For me God has been the centre of my life and he has surely seen me through it all and for that I will forever be thankful for the kindness and mercies he has shown me. Hard-work and focus have also kept me going and wanting to learn more and more has helped me in life.

Linda Kaluba Zimba

Friday, 4 August 2017

Kawama Village

In the two years that Mike and I have been involved with Kawama School we have spent time, not only talking to Mary, the Headteacher but also many members of the wonderful community, about the development of the village and how it is to live there. Undoubtedly, the school and the community are linked, and often as one develops, so does the other.

New Kawama looking towards the "Old" area. Kawama School is the silver "cross" just right of centre 
So first a little of the history. Up until 1995, the area was simply ‘bush’ but as the nearby city of Kitwe started to grow, people began to look for more affordable housing around Kawama. Some people bought land to build their family home, while others saw a business opportunity to build houses to rent. There are still two distinct parts to Kawama, the old and the new. The “old” area is slightly more prosperous, with more 3-roomed houses, some with electricity and water and a tarmac road. Kawama School is situated in the new part, where most houses still have only one or two rooms, few people have electricity and water is still collected daily from a bore hole or well in the village. As you drive through the village, women and children are seen sweeping the area around their houses, keeping them as clean as they can. However, rubbish is often swept into the streets., rather than being burned. This can make the area appear more neglected to us than it is in reality.

An older home falling down but still lived in

A much newer and more modern home

Washing is often just hung over the shrubs by the street
There has been very little investment in the infrastructure in the area, which means that roads are extremely badly maintained and the drainage system is virtually non-existent. This is a huge problem in the rainy season as it often becomes impossible to walk around. We have heard recently that the council have plans to improve the roads and drainage system, which would make a huge difference to the area. 

Although houses are kept clean the rubbish is just thrown into the street

Cars use the roads in the wet season with difficulty

This is the "main" road into New Kawama with the Government School in the background
There are very few jobs around Kawama, apart from the local market where people have small stalls selling a range of goods from fruit and vegetables to second hand clothes. Some of the community have started up small shops perhaps doing tailoring or barbers and hairdressers. One or two of the younger people have also started computer or internet places that may offer photocopying or printing but of course these depend on the erratic electricity supply. There is an area on the road into Kawama that has timber yards and a newly built Zambeef factory. It can be very hard to find regular work in the area. Although some people commute to Kitwe, these tend to be the professional people, like teachers who have decided to rent in Kawama to save money.

Timber yards on the road into Kawama

The new Zambeef factory giving some employment

Most of the "shops" are this style

Shops and stalls sell many things

Vegetable sellers, mostly home grown

There are many bars and this is the local beer delivery
The area is developing quite quickly, with more people building slightly larger houses. However, as a consequence, the more vulnerable families were finding it harder to find a place to rent. Some families were moving out to a nearby village called Kamatipa, which is less developed and so more affordable. Mary has recently been asked to support the community school at Kamatipa, sharing her years of knowledge with less experienced colleagues. At the moment there are still many vulnerable children at the school, but with the developments that are happening, the time may come when more families have to move away. Both the schools and Beyond Ourselves monitor carefully the number of vulnerable children in our schools since these are the families we are committed to support.

Most children now attend school, but parents still do not always value education. Too many young children are kept at home to work, or sent to market to sell vegetables rather than going to school. Older boys often drop out of school as they start to roam streets, enjoying being with their friends rather than in school. Kawama school and church are doing a fantastic job within the community in trying to support these young people by running a youth group as well as a Boys Brigade group. There is no doubt that life is hard in Kawama village, but with the help of our school, there is hope for the future. 

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Meet Greater Joy's Administrator Memory

This week our profile interview is with Memory, an amazing young woman who has recently started work as the administrator at Greater Joy.

Memory has moved around Zambia more than many people since her father worked for ZRA, the Zambian Tax office, and was frequently posted to different towns. However, this didn’t hamper her education in any way. After graduating from school, she studied at the Copperbelt University for 5 years to study business administration. After graduating, she worked at the Intercontinental Hotel in Lusaka, which she says she really enjoyed. Unfortunately her father died in 2001 and Memory now lives with her family in Chimwemwe with her mother, grandmother, her brother King and her sister Hope.

Memory is very involved in the church at Greater Joy and each week she practises with the Praise team, whose role it is to lead in the singing. Although only 26, Memory is very active in helping young people, more especially women. She is part of a group called Alchemy, Women in Leadership (A.WiL)which aims to empower young women and her aim is to see Women compete equally (or in her words) to be more successful than men in gaining high positions in business, industry and in the running of the Nation. Memory is such a positive person with great leadership potential that I’m sure she will have an impact on the women she works with. Memory asked me to highlight the group so you can all see what it is about. Please take a look at www.awilz.org.

Memory was very involved in the Girls Leadership Summit
Memory explained that her group works to help young girls stay in Education and excel at school so that they will have better opportunities in the future. She is particularly interested in helping people who are not academic to learn a trade.

Every community needs someone like Memory, who just gets on with making changes rather than just talking about doing something.

Memory enjoys her job at the school as it is very varied. Not only does she check that the school fees are paid, but she keeps records of all children, manages the day to day finances and oversees the feeding programme. She has recently been given a computer so is currently busy transferring all the records to a data base. She said that she is enjoying setting up new systems for keeping track of all the resources that the school has and making sure that they are returned when the teachers have finished with them. 

Memory works closely with Maureen, Head of Greater Joy

Sorting out admin details with teachers

Helping with a recent visit by Roding Valley High School

When she isn’t working at the school, she enjoys listening to music and dancing. She would like to be a model, but has been told that she isn’t tall enough. Memory is always busy and in addition to working at the school sells Avon products to her neighbours. Memory is a great example of how some people find opportunities to help themselves and their families by being imaginative.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Reflecting on 2 Great Years in Zambia

As we come to the end of our two years in Zambia, we find ourselves reflecting on our time here. Overall, it’s been an amazing experience and we are both in no doubt that we made a good decision to come here and to work with Beyond Ourselves. There have been challenges of course, but more of those later. Let’s start with all the great experiences that we have had.

Living in a different country has been invigorating. Waking up every morning to beautiful blue skies and knowing that the sun will shine is amazing to those of us from the UK. We’ve loved being so close to nature, being able to live outside more often and learning about the wildlife. A highlight for us has to be having so many different birds, including eagles and owls in our garden at Cherry Farm, where we lived for most of the time, being able to watch them every day. Mike has taken so many pictures it will take another lifetime just to sort them out. Our plan is to make a photo book of best animal pictures that we have.

Some photos from our “home” at Cherry Farm

Woodland Kingfisher
Schallow's Turaco

Food on plate so 3 dogs appear

Spotted Eagle Owl
Jan walking the dogs on the farm

Best dog spot when braal is on
Roasting marshmallows
We loved having friends round
We’ve also taken every opportunity to travel whenever we have had a holiday. Since we’ve been here we have been to Malawi, Botswana and Namibia as well as South Africa. The travel has been great, but initially taking our car across borders with the typical African bureaucracy was a challenge. However, although it is still never easy, we now feel so much more able to deal with these situations. Just having the opportunity to learn these new skills has kept our minds active.

We’ve spent a lot of time in Game parks, including our favourite Zambian ones of South Luangwa and Kafue. It’s always amazing seeing predators in the wild, but getting to know individual animals over time, going back and see the young ones growing up, has been better than we could ever have imagined. We’ve loved seeing the bush change from the lush, dense green in the wet season, to the dusty parched brown of the dry season. We’ve learned to identify so many of the birds, reptiles and animals, even the different antelope, which initially all looked fairly similar. These are memories which will never leave us.


Mike is often found on the ground taking photos

Mikes photo of the wild dog from the ground

Jan helps Mike by holding the tail end
To get this shot of the snake
Jan with a Chameleon
Through Dan, Melissa, Emily and Malcolm, we quickly felt at home in Zambia. As we started to meet more and more people we really felt part of this great community. There are different groups here and we feel lucky enough to have know people who, although originally from Europe, call themselves Zambian, local Zambian people who have never travelled outside of their country and other ‘expats’ from all around the world who are here on a temporary basis. Each group has taught us something different about living in such a great county.
With Mary at Kawama School
Our friends at Kawama
We both feel that we have a much better understanding now of what it’s like to live in Zambia, particularly for those in difficult situations. We have also gained a greater understanding of how charity workers from overseas can both help and hurt the communities here. Before coming to Zambia, we had travelled in Africa and understood the dangers that people can do by indiscriminately giving out money or sweets to children or adults that they meet. We have now seen that where people work in partnership with local communities, keeping an open mind to the impact that they are having, much good can be done. We know that none of our schools would be providing such a good education without the support of BOZ. However, we have also seen the dangers of being too quick to try and solve other people’s problems for them. I’m sure as children, we were all told countless times that it’s OK to make mistakes, as that is how we learn. As parents we all had to learn to resist doing everything for our children to help them become independent adults. It can be hard to be in a position here where we could so easily give money or our time to help people, but have to think constantly about the bigger picture. People are so grateful when they are helped or given things that it can be hard to take a step back and think of the bigger picture. Although we want to help, we don’t want people to become dependent on us. This has been one of the harder lessons for us to learn.

Much as we have loved living here, some of the differences have tested our patience to its limits. Trying and eventually succeeding in importing our car is a story in itself, and one we have told many times. To us in the UK it seems obvious that when you are “fined” 5% of the import duty to be paid due to some customs official filling in the incorrect form, the “fine” is ridiculous. When you try to pay the duty and they will not tell you what it is because you have not paid the fine makes you wonder how anyone can succeed here. However, through the experience we gained a better understanding of the differences in our cultures and how people work in such different ways. We often comment that although English is the official language, it doesn’t always make it easy to communicate. We’ve learned how important it is to ask the right questions, otherwise you may never find the right answer. A friend recently recounted a story, which resounded with us. She had been to immigration to ask how much in advance of her work permit running out could she apply for a new one. The answer was simple; one month. However, it took some time and lots of patience before she found out that actually you can apply three months before it runs out. We’ve learned to keep asking questions rather than making assumptions. This is frustrating at times, but I love the fact that we are constantly having to learn and adapt to this different culture. Hopefully these experiences have helped us to grow as people and become more tolerant in our lives.

Many people have asked what will we miss about being here and to us that is a really easy question to answer…….

It is without a doubt the people….. The friends at Beyond Ourselves…. The friends we work with in the schools…. The friends we socialise with…. The friends we just meet. Yes it is The Friends as everyone has come to be.

Now a slightly harder question with more answers in what won’t we miss.

Well number one has to be the roads and the driving as they are both atrocious and after that it is probably dealing with the bureaucracy. It will be nice to go back and find a good restaurant with a good choice of dishes and perhaps a selection of wines and not to look out and see a grand view of…… The car park.

Before get back home to The UK we start a 4 month road trip covering much of East and Southern Africa that finishes early December and then we will leave to have Christmas in the UK with our family.

If you would like to follow our travels please take a look at http://mikejangreatescape.blogspot.co.uk We hope to update as often as we can.

Just a few of our friends here
It is difficult to say thank you without naming any names but it is a huge thanks from both of us to the Beyond Ourselves Family, Mechanics For Africa Family, Greater Joy, Janna and Kawama Communities for helping us when we knew very little about Zambian ways and most of all for being our fantastic friends.

Jan and Mike

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Beyond ‘Beyond Ourselves’!

Most people know Beyond Ourselves for the way we partner with community schools in Zambia, working alongside the local teachers and leaders to offer education to children who might not otherwise be in school; for how we support and develop the schools to a point when we will no longer be needed; or for the heart we have to see the communities and people we work with in Zambia flourishing.

But another large part of Beyond Ourselves’ work is here in the UK, where we also partner with schools. It might look very different, but the heart is the same - to see the students flourish.

The majority of primary and secondary schools across the UK raise money for at least one charity, more than likely they fundraise for several different charities at various points in the year. As a charitable organisation, we didn’t want to be just another charity that the students raise money for on the odd day in the year. We wanted there to be a meaningful engagement, an opportunity for the students to learn, to be inspired, to be challenged, to make a difference, now and in their years to come…

Because of that, we made the decision early on that we when we partnered with schools in the UK, it wouldn’t be about us, our name or the promotion of our charity. Yes, we need people to raise funds for us, but that wouldn’t be the focus of our school partnerships, it would be a by-product, an overflow out of a committed heart and culture of them going beyond themselves.

Rather than raising money for ‘Beyond Ourselves’, the schools develop an ethos of going ‘Beyond their School’, beyond their classrooms, in to their communities and far wider (including Zambia).

Many of you will be aware of the significant partnership we have with Cranleigh School, where since 2011 ‘Beyond Cranleigh’ has become embedded in the school family and culture. But they are not the only school who are going beyond themselves...

A few weeks ago we launched ‘Beyond Davenant’ at Davenant Foundation School. And just last week Roding Valley High School visited Zambia with a small team of students (You can read their blog here – well worth a read!).

From this coming September, we will also be embarking on a new partnership with St Paul’s School.

Like on the recent Roding Valley High School trip, some of the students at our UK partner schools are selected to go on a trip to Zambia. This isn’t like any other school trip. (We’re not a tour operator - if people want to visit a developing nation and volunteer to ‘do good’ there are options for that – we’re not it!)

 Trip after trip we see students challenged and changed by their visit. We continue to see how their experiences go on to impact decisions they make on their return to the UK and how they choose to go on living their lives. No longer purely centred on themselves but on living a life that goes beyond them.

That’s why we partner with UK schools. That’s why we do the trips. That’s the hope every time we welcome a team of students. The dream. The legacy. That we might influence beyond ‘Beyond Ourselves’.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017


June was the month of two UK fundraisers:

On 16th June we held our annual Golf Day at Bush Hill Park Golf Club.

It was our biggest golf day yet with 27 teams – 108 golfers! And the sun shone J We were a bit concerned that it would make for a very slow game with so many players, but Lee Fickling, our friend and wonderful golf pro, positioned the teams perfectly so that all went very smoothly.

Jodie and I placed ourselves in the Pimms marquee, by the 13th tee, ready to welcome the golfers with much needed refreshments. We had a great time! This is always a nice opportunity to have a chat and catch up with our supporters face to face which we love to do. The 13th is also precariously near the lake, and if we were smart and ‘fined’ people for hitting balls into the lake, BO would be very rich indeed!!

In the evening, we welcomed extra guests to the BBQ/Party. As it was a nice evening the band, Milo Max, were able to play outside on the terrace which was so nice, and they were SO good. This year’s cocktail was the Mojito which seemed to go down very well indeed!

We had our raffle, and Ben ran our auction, which he does with great expertise. Overall, the day raised just over £13,000 which is fantastic, and we thank everyone so much for coming and supporting us so well. We have such faithful friends and we are so grateful to all of them for their generosity and making this such a great day.

Next year’s golf day will be on Friday 15th June – so if you’d like to play, put the date in your phone now!

Two weeks later we had two teams of 10, mainly staff from Stephen James BMW/MINI, taking part in the Gauntlet Games in Trent Park – a 10K run with many obstacles along the way – monkey bars, inflatable obstacles with gladiator like giants seemingly beating them. Again the sun shone. I was very impressed at how quickly they did this. Over £600 was raised for Beyond Ourselves by the participants. There was a great atmosphere in the park and it is an event we shall definitely do next year. Our thanks to Stephen James for sponsoring this event.

Apart from the child sponsorship funding which goes direct to Zambia, our fundraising is key to keeping Beyond Ourselves operational from the UK. If you would like to put on an event, however large or small, it would be much appreciated – from a coffee morning, to a sponsored event. If we can help in any way, just give me a call on 020 8344 0984 or email Karen@beyondourselves.co.uk

Apart from raising money, fundraising is fun! We love meeting up with people who support and partner with us in the work of Beyond Ourselves. Thank you!

Written by Karen of Beyond Ourselves