Monday, 20 March 2017

Transforming And Getting Stronger

This year I have set myself the goal of finishing the year physically stronger than I started it. (I failed last year so am even more determined this year!). Why am I doing this you may ask? Well, if I’m honest I faced the fact that I’m not getting any younger and if I want to continue to do all that I do, and more, in to the future then I need to make sure I am healthy enough and fit enough to do so. Who knows what the future brings, but whatever it does bring I want to be ready and strong enough to take it on…

And this is the very same reason we are making some administrative changes to the organisation of Beyond Ourselves this year as well. We started out life as a small family trust, but if we want to be ready for whatever the future holds, then we want to make sure we’re strong enough to handle it.

I am delighted that we are moving the governance of Beyond Ourselves to ‘Above + Beyond’, a new charitable trust housing several community transformation projects locally in the UK and overseas. This will enable us as a project to share and centralise some of the key ‘back office’ administrative and governance tasks required for running a growing charity. It also provides longevity to the project, no longer reliant on a few people but a wider board and group of people carrying the vision of Beyond Ourselves into the future.

We will continue to operate as ‘Beyond Ourselves’ and there won’t be any changes to the Beyond Ourselves team, who are just as passionate as they have ever been to see individuals empowered and communities transformed in Zambia. In fact, the changes enable the team to focus more on delivering the project and developing strategies for the future, rather than getting weighed down by admin. (Hooray!)

It is also my pleasure to be the Director of Above + Beyond as we develop the charity and transition Beyond Ourselves in to it.

Here is a letter from Ian Theodoreson - the Chair of Trustees at Above + Beyond:

Letter To Beyond Ourselves Supporters


Thursday, 16 March 2017

A Day of Football At The National Stadium

Football is so much more than a game here. These last few weeks Zambia has been hosting the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) for Under 20’s – and on Sunday Zambia won the final against Senegal! Although it wasn’t the most exciting of games, two sloppy goals in the first half for Zambia sealed the game early on, it did contain a yellow card for a Senegalese practicing witchcraft and throwing a ‘charm’ into the Zambian goal to try to turn around the game around. Not something you see in most matches around the world!

The same Ndola stadium that hosted international games for the AFCON was also the stage for our Grade 7’s last month when Beyond Ourselves organised a 7-a-side football tournament for 12 local Community Schools. Schools from across the Copperbelt with the same heart for orphans and vulnerable children as ours.

We partnered with Mechanics for Africa, a Mechanics college that trains up underpriviledged young people in Zambia, giving them a quality education and skills for life, who closed their classes for the day so that their 70 students could help facilitate the event. We were also assisted by visitors from the UK who fundraised for the stadium hire and equipment needed to run the event.

Aside from getting a chance to play football in an international stadium, the Grade 7’s were also excited to tour the stadium (especially the chance to ride in an elevator) and receive medals and an encouraging word from a former Zambian International player who was our guest of honour for the day.

All in all, it was a great success.

Here are a few photos from our day!

Team Janna in front of the Mwanawasa Stadium

Goal mouth action during a group game
There were many elaborate celebrations throughout the day
A bird's eye view of the finals

The final whistle indicating that Hope Community School were group winners!

All the children played a 'final' inside the National stadium

An MFA student celebrates a winning goal with the goal scorer

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

International Women's Day 8th March

Today is the International Women’s Day. Today we globally celebrate the achievements of women and advocate for gender parity.

Gloria Steinem says ‘The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights."

Over the last year we’ve been working together with women from other organisations to help us to be trained and to train others in some of the issues girls and women face in Southern Africa. It’s been so encouraging to see women coming together from all different backgrounds to examine and challenge the issues at hand but also inspire the next generation.

The strength and tenacity of women in Zambia never ceases to amaze us. We see women taking care of all facets of family life all whilst often providing for the family and caring for extended family. Their days start early and end late. Women’s work is crucial in every area of society and yet the respect they are given is often so little.

All of the head teachers at our partner schools are women and most of the teachers at the schools are as well. We love to see these strong women being leaders in their communities but also inspiring the girls at the schools we work with. This year’s theme is ‘Be Bold for Change’ and daily we see the leaders and teachers at the schools being bold as their stand in their roles as female community leaders. They inspire girls to pursue their goals and dare to dream big and change the next generation.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017


It’s the rain season and at this time of the year we experience heavy showers nearly every day or night. The roads have loads of water running down them with puddles everywhere. The children are having great fun playing in the water. However, many roads have become mud tracks, the puddles are deep thick brown sludge and the rivers have eroded deep gouges where the rainwater has washed away the ground and are full of rubbish.

The densely packed community of Kawama

The community has to walk through this and the children play in it. It is a breeding ground for many diseases including malaria.

Children playing in a rubbish strewn water channel
The road into Kawama with a Government School in the background
Malaria is found of many parts of the world and especially here in Sub-Saharan Africa. The disease is caused by a tiny single celled protozoan that cannot survive outside of its host (mainly humans). There are five species of this protozoa worldwide of which plasmodium falciparum is the one responsible for most deaths globally and unfortunately is the one most prevalent here in Africa. This malaria parasite can only infect two creatures, female mosquitos of the anopheles genus and humans.

The mosquitos breed in stagnant and dirty water and are more prevalent from dusk to dawn as they seek out a human to bite for blood and food. When they bite they transfer the malaria parasite and infect the person. The parasite then travels rapidly to the liver and from there to the red blood cells. These red blood cells are destroyed and at this point the clinical symptoms of malaria start to show. These can include fever, headaches, sickness, tiredness and one minute being very hot and sweaty then the next shivering and coldness. Severe malaria can manifest itself to a coma and severe breathing problems. Cerebral malaria is when the symptoms affect the brain as in a coma.

According the World Health Organisation there were 212 million reported new cases of malaria worldwide in 2015 and 90% of these were in the African region and the most shocking statistic is that there were 429,000 deaths worldwide and again 92% of these were in Africa. Children are recorded as being the most susceptible to the illness.

As the early symptoms are very general and are often found in many illnesses such as colds or general sickness, the usual reaction for the local population is that any illness is called “malaria” so often tests are not done. A visit to a clinic or local hospital is generally free or a minimal cost (as little as 1 Kwacha, about .08 pence). Malaria is often easily diagnosed with a simple “prick” test where a small drop of blood is deposited onto a pre-bought slide and the answer will be available within 10-15 minutes but this of course costs money so it not done routinely. Malaria, if diagnosed quickly, is easily treatable with several different treatments.

Mosquitos breed on damp and wet conditions and prefer dirty stagnant water. This is just the condition that is found around a lot of Zambia at this time of year. Rubbish is often thrown into the streets and this just gets washed into heaps as the rains come. There is very little drainage in the compounds where we work. Kawama is one example where there are very few if any tarmac roads and just gravel or mud tracks. Children are left to play in the roads and water.
Children sitting, playing and even drinking the water
Unfortunately it is not unknown to see people using the ditches and water channels as rubbish dumps, places to chuck dirty water or even using them as toilets. Children sit and play in them and as often they have no running water in the homes, these channels are used to collect water for the house and even drink it. This being said it is not surprising that the population suffers badly from all sorts of water born diseases.

Mosquito nets help a great deal, as long as they are used, as the female mosquito is more active from early evening until dawn. Many of the homes do not have nets to sleep under or possibly there are too many people in the home to afford nets. Of course many homes have one or two single rooms and culturally the cooking is done outside so most people including children, are outside at dusk.

Education is also very important in teaching people that malaria is a preventable disease. Trying to support the community and teaching them to keep the area clean and not throwing rubbish out into the roads would help, along with using a clean water supply and not playing in drainage channels. Sleeping under nets at night are also another great way to avoid being bitten. Education also is important in making sure that when any symptoms appear then the patient is given an early and correct diagnosis so that treatment can begin as soon as possible.

To help prevent children from contracting malaria we give out mosquito nets from time to time. If you’d like to purchase a mosquito net to be given to a vulnerable family, visit our Alternative Gift store here. (