Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Reflections From Cranleigh Students

As an introduction to Kawama Community School, we observed a Grade 5 class, taught by Barbara. The children were learning irregular verbs in English, and they were very enthusiastic. Every child participated and thoroughly engaged in the lesson. They showed great respect towards Barbara, and impressive determination. One girl achieved 10/10 on the verbs exercise, and it was inspiring to see her pride in this. We moved on to Grade 1 for their printing class, which is part of their national curriculum. Their energy was great, whilst also being rather chaotic! The teacher, Doreen, kept control of the situation, and remained a calm presence in the room. After lunch, we had the opportunity to interview the school director, Pastor Cephas, and two of the school cooks. We learnt more about them individually, in addition to Zambian life in general. Cephas explained that people’s approach towards education has been improving over the past few years and the Kawama community are beginning to appreciate the work the school is doing.

On Saturday, we went to “Mechanics for Africa”, an organisation that trains mechanics over a 2 year course, at the end of which they achieve a City & Guilds accredited Diploma. We met Jason, who runs the charity, and he helped us understand the aims and objectives of the project. After a short safety briefing we learnt the basic principles of how to service a car and the excellent tuition by MFA mechanics meant that everyone was confident on how to change a tyre, check and replace the oil, clean the air filter and check battery voltage. We found it interesting to speak with the mechanics as they all had aspirations of opening their own garage in the future. 

A statement from Jason stayed with many of us: “Africa doesn’t need help, it needs opportunities.” This really made us reflect on sustainability and how ‘charity’ is more about giving people the opportunity to earn their own source of reliable income.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Getting It...

After a trip to Zambia, I often get asked what was the highlight of the trip?

There were the obvious moments; being with friends and colleagues again after a few months away from them, meeting our newest addition to the team family (baby Charlie Isaiah Whitcombe!), seeing the teachers at our partner schools continuing to flourish in the classroom. And of course, there’s always the opportunity for bean sorting!

But often for me, when we have visiting teams, the highlight is always the same. And never was it more so than on this recent trip with Cranleigh School.

My highlight is journeying with people as they start to “get it”.

By that we mean…getting to grips with the big issues, the big questions that are part of the everyday when you are involved in development and not-for-profit life.

There is something so special to me about walking with people, especially young people, as they begin to grapple with the injustice in our world, the inequality, the pain and struggle and yet at the same time witness them be surprised and inspired by the hope, the faith, the development, the possibilities for the future.

To see them start to unpick what they had previously been told was true, what the media has shown them to be true and challenge it head on. To truly understand the land, its culture and its people.

To realise that we don’t have the answers, that we aren’t the ‘saviours’ coming to bestow all our knowledge and goodness on those who are less fortunate than ourselves. That in fact, historically ‘we’ have got it so wrong and caused more damage than good, creating dependency and not offering empowerment and sustainability at all.

It’s the main reason we do trips, we aren’t a tour company. If people want to go to a developing nation and feel good about ‘helping the poor’ then we’re not the organisation for them!

My heart for the students (and anyone) we have visit Zambia with us is that they might be challenged and changed. That they might take all that they taste, see, hear, smell and touch, and have it stay with them. So that, as people of influence and affluence they might make choices that impact others well.

That they might be part of the generation that truly makes a difference.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Forms And Fundraising!

Just a little summary of what has been happening in the Beyond Ourselves UK office this past 2 weeks.


As many of you know, we are changing our bank account – no mean feat! So all our dear supporters have been emailed asking them to cancel their standing order, and restart it with a different bank. I pressed the ‘send’ button with fear and trepidation. However, I need not have worried – our lovely friends have been very rapid in taking action. In life there are those who act straight away, and those who procrastinate (I fully admit to being in the latter camp with things that aren’t straightforward!). So we’ve had the first wave, and the procrastinators I am sure will follow shortly. But a big THANK YOU to you all for continuing to partner with us. It’s a journey we’re on together, whether you see the day to day running or not.


· This month one of my dear friends had a ‘significant’ birthday, and rather than have presents he very kindly asked for donations to Beyond Ourselves. I am delighted to report that, along with his generosity, we received £1000 which amounts to one teacher’s salary for the year. Thank you Dave!

· Jodie and Andy Kelman (from Big & Red Storage) went to speak about Beyond Ourselves at the Rotary Club in Edmonton. They generously donated a 2KG Easter Egg which I have raffled at Stephen James BMW today. We raised £283.00 which is a fantastic sum. Congratulations to Phoebe Clarke in our Enfield MINI Aftersales! And thank you to the Edmonton Rotary Club.

Congratulations to the winner Phoebe

· Yesterday, we had two runners in the Brighton Marathon! Philip Miles and Eve Makombera. Whilst I love the hot weather, I expect it was a bit hot for them! Well done and a big thank you to both.

Eve Makombera

Philip Miles

· And finally we have our annual Golf Day on Friday 16th June at Bush Hill Park Golf Club followed by a BBQ and Party. If you are interested in playing, do get in touch by email to Tickets for the evening party will also be on sale soon. A great day/evening not to be missed.

So thank you for your forms and your fundraising. If you think of any ways of raising funds this Spring, then please go ahead. We very much depend upon your generosity to keep the work in Zambia going.

By Karen

Friday, 31 March 2017

The Annual Beyond Ourselves BBQ & Party!

Our annual Beyond Ourselves BBQ/Party will take place on the evening of Friday 16th June (after the golf). Put the date in your diary – excellent evening either to bring friends to or come with your department from work. Tickets will be on sale next month. Good evening to support Beyond Ourselves – our Group charity.

BBQ/live music/raffle/auction/Kazza’s cocktails!

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.