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!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Election Fever - Zambian Style

At the moment Zambia is awash with colour, noise and lots of speculation as the country goes to the polls on August 11th to choose, not only the next President, but the next Government, Town and City mayors and, for the first time in Zambia, there is a referendum.

Since 1964 when Zambia gained its independence there have been 6 Presidents starting with Dr Kenneth Kaunda followed by Frederick Chiluba, Levy Mwanawasa, Rupiah Banda, Michael Sata and the present incumbent, His Excellency Edgar Lungu. The Presidential elections are held every 5 years so I hear you asking why if President Lungu was only elected in January 2015 is Zambia having another election. The answer comes with the sad fact that Mr Sata died in office in October 2014 having been elected in September 2011. President Lungu was elected to continue the term of office of his predecessor. 

The Zambian voting system broadly follows that of the UK system in that it is a first past the post system with everyone over the age of 18 eligible to vote. Votes are cast in secret at a Polling Station very much like a UK one, often in a school but always in a “Government” building. The polling stations will open in the morning at 05.00 and close at 18.00 often with very long queues. The main difference it that here, besides your constituency MP, you will also vote for a President. Also at the same time you will have two more ballot papers, one for Mayor and one for Town Councillor, plus this year a referendum on amendments to the Bill of Rights or Constitution. To ensure that you only vote once you have to put your thumb on an ink pad and I have been told it will not come off for several days despite how many times you scrub it.

President Lungu is a member of the Patriotic Front (PF) party while his main challenger appears to be Hakainde Hichilema (popularly known as HH) of the United Party for National Development (UPND) who came a close second at the 2015 election.

I started by saying that the campaigning is a colourful and noisy affair. Around Ndola and the Copperbelt area large posters, banners and people’s clothes are bright green, the colour of the PF party, that appears to be very strong in this area. However, there are also banners over the roads and on cars of the bright red which is the UPND party colours and also it seems, the Rainbow Party colours as a few large banners are visible from them. The noise comes from the open backed vehicles carrying supporters from the various parties and huge sound systems playing music in support.

Large banner signs on the roads in the Copperbelt for the various parties

In the main, as usual, it has been a very peaceful contest so far but there have been a few reports of trouble in one area or another. The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) suspended campaigning in Lusaka and a few other places for a short time recently to allow things to calm down. Many of the Political Parties have called on the churches to organise a National Day of Prayer before the elections to ask for a peaceful elections. This of course is what we would all hope and pray for.
The election rallies that have been held here in Ndola all seem to have been very peaceful and fun. Many fantastic costumes and clothes were seen being worn by the various party supporters

Colourful bands and costumes

Like all elections it would be fantastic if it can be a peaceful and fair election with the best man and party coming out on top.