January 2005 Newsletter

Dear Friends of Makeni

In this newsletter:

Primary School Student top in Zambia!

One great piece of news to report to start the year is that one of our students, Leroy Mumba, scored the highest aggregate mark (85%) in the country in his Grade 7 exams. These exams are used to decide which students will find places at secondary schools around the country, and which of these schools they may qualify for, so this is an important result for Leroy and also a great success for the primary school staff. Another student at the school, Samson Phiri, also scored one of the highest marks this year. Mr Ledson Chipwalu taught the class and is also the Head of the school. Warm congratulations to the students and staff for this fantastic achievement!

We are also very pleased to report that our three children from St Nicholas' Village for Orphans, sitting the exam this year, have passed and qualify for secondary school places.

Support groups around the world

Three new support groups have been created in Belgium, Canada, and the Netherlands.

The Belgian group, MEC Friends from Flanders, under the leadership of Mieke and Miel Claus, volunteers in the 1970s, raised 740 Euros in February and US$1600 in November 2004. Most of the second contribution is going towards the upgrading of the Homecraft School, while the earlier donation was split between the orphanage, AIDS Prevention and Agricultural Settlement projects.

The Canadian voluntary group started by Pierre and Lee Ann Dil, is in the process of being officially registered. Two members of the group, Dr and Mrs Taylor, recently visited Zambia and Makeni. Dr Taylor is an administrator at a University in Canada and is interested in community health promotion. Mrs Taylor teaches English language at the same University and has been a VSO in Nigeria.

The Village Link group in Holland started by Dmitri Knobbe is setting up a link between the Dutch Benevolent Society and the centre's settlement villages. The Benevolent Society was created in the 19th century, when Holland was going through a period of great turmoil and poverty, with the aim of settling landless or unemployed people in agriculture.

The first national meeting of the Village Link group is taking place in January 2005. Two of the main speakers will be Jan and Truus Veldkamp, who visited MEC settlement villages in July 2004.

Later in 2005, the Village Link group is doing awareness raising work, which should include a visit by a Zambian artist, sponsored in part by the Dutch Embassy. Sincere thanks are due to Dmitri Knobbe for arranging this event.

We hope also that either or both Fr Mukuyamba and Mr Silwenga may visit Holland to promote this link and visit churches and schools. We hope that our Friends in Holland will be able to support this venture.

Veteran politician studies at Computer School

In November 2004, an article in the Zambia Daily Mail announced that former senior UNIP member and cabinet minister, Grey Zulu, was taking classes at our computer school. The article said:

"Veteran politician, Grey Zulu, 80, doing a beginners' computers course, yesterday said 'age should never be a limiting factor to education'. He said he decided to go back to school to learn computers so that he could write his memoirs, know how to use the internet and electronic record keeping."

"From the time he had been doing the programme, he realised that a computer was simply a fantastic piece of equipment where one could learn a lot of things. It was important to always strive to learn new things in order to move with time and live longer..."

"Zulu said although he was a very good typist in the pre-independence days as a civil servant, it was difficult to learn new methods. 'I was good at typing with two fingers, there was no shorthand then but I managed to keep the provincial office of the water development department in Kabwe in good condition. My hands were swift and the mind was quick, but that cannot be expected to be performed at 80 because the hands are stiff and shaky.'"

"Zulu's tutor, Towera Mukubu, described him as a determined student who was willing to learn. She said he had done Introduction to Computers, Word Processing, the Excel Program, and Internet Appreciation and had always been doing his assignments."

"'It is exciting to see someone over 80 years doing computers,' Mukubu said. 'I would like to encourage people to study computers because the world is changing, IT is growing.' Mukubu said Zulu's interest in learning new technology was a challenge to everyone as the world was getting computerised."

Upgrading of Computing Courses

We continue to look into upgrading equipment at the Computer School with a view to teaching the "International Computer Driving Licence" syllabus at the centre. A possible donor has been found for computers and several people have come forward to offer help with shipping costs. One obstacle is that the building housing the equipment would need upgrading. In addition, we would like our current computer trainer to receive further training to be able to teach the ICDL. It is hoped that the equipment could be used both for education and fund-raising.

Volunteers with experience of the "computer driving licence" or with good computer literacy are particuarly welcomed at this time.

Family Planning Clinic

Mrs Allen reports:

As earlier reported, the HIV/AIDS Project has been given over K24m for conducting educational and sensitisation seminars and worshops in Settlement Villages and other areas from ZINGO (Zambia Interfaith Networking Groups Organisation).

We have a problem with the Family Planning Clinic since the death of Mrs Chibesa, who was in charge of the Clinic. We have tried to get a replacement, but have failed to get a qualified person so far. All those who have come forward are asking a salary in excess of local scales. We have advertised the post in prominent places in the Makeni area.

AIDS Prevention Project

The project coordinator, Catherine Oreta, reports: HIV/AIDS prevention project activities at the Centre continued as usual, with individual and group discussion sessions, also reflecting on what the Gospel says about our lives. Activities included video shows.

Home visits were conducted on a weekly basis in homes within John Laing Compound including individual counselling sessions and also sharing a Gospel message.

Mrs Oreta attended:

St John the Baptist (Piddington, England)

We are delighted to welcome St John the Baptist (Piddington) in England as new supporters of the work of the Family Planning group and AIDS outreach program. Many thanks to the church members for their kind donation of £400 towards these important projects. This money will be used in visiting areas to identify where help is most needed and in assisting households where AIDS has taken one or more members of the family.

St Nicholas Village for AIDS Orphans

Mrs Allen reports:

The Orphanage is running well and we are very grateful to Dr Pierre and Mrs Lee Ann Dil in Canada and to all the groups they are working with for the wonderful gifts and many items we received from them. We give special thanks to the Africa AIDS Angel Project in Victoria, for their continued support and generosity. The children in the Orphanage are very delighted and thankful. They received a lot of presents ranging from clothing to toys and sportsware. We wish the supporters and the children God's continued protection, health and blessings.

The orphanage is also being helped greatly by an organization called Project Concern International, which has been giving high protein foodstuffs for some time now. This support has helped us spend less money on food.

The orphanage was also visited by a group of youths from Eternal Assemblies of God church here in Makeni. This group of youths brought gifts in the form of clothes, sugar, tea leaves, mealie meal and K100,000. They also entertained the children with choruses, hymns and sketches.

Little St Mary's support

Heartfelt thanks to Little St Mary's in Cambridge, England, for their continued and generous support of the Orphanage and of MEC's work in general. In December we received £1150 from St Mary's as their contribution for 2004, another fantastic contribution.

Baby Lucas Donation to Orphanage Children

Many thanks to Elles and Rutger de Geest and baby Lucas, who have donated more than Euros 700 to Makeni Centre. The money was raised when Lucas' parents asked friends to make donations to MEC rather than buy more gifts for Lucas. We are very grateful to the family de Geest for this wonderful gesture. The money will go to St Nicholas Village for AIDS Orphans, where it will be much appreciated both for everyday needs and for bringing some extra fun into the children's lives.

St Nicholas Day

The children visted Munda Wanga on 5th December along with visitors Deborah and Bruce Milano, long term volunteer Sandy Adam, house mother Judy Passmore and other staff from the orphanage. The celebrations were supported by donations from the children of the Kloosterkerk in the Hague, Holland.

Munda Wanga ("My Garden") is a popular botanical garden about 20km from the centre with a small zoo. The children very much enjoyed this outing and write:

"everything we set our eyes on was appealing to us. We viewed the animals when they were being fed. May the good Lord richly bless you in your endeavours."

Photos will be posted to the website in due course.

Deborah and Bruce Milano

The Milanos, from Maine, USA, travelled to Zambia in December to acquaint themselves with the work of the centre. Bruce and Deborah both hold nursing qualifications in Maine and are planning to return to Zambia in 2005 to take up posts working with the Family Planning and AIDS Prevention projects.

Where are they now?

We heard recently from Raoul Van Gaever, from Belgium, who was a volunteer at the centre in 1979-80. Raoul had been teaching at NRDC in Lusaka and delivered several agriculture courses at the centre. He also helped at Kafue Settlement village and was very happy to hear (via Mieke and Miel Claus) of the centre's continued success. It was great to hear from Raoul, and we invite other former volunteers to let us know what they are doing now.

Father Pierre Dil

Thank you to everybody for their letters of support and prayers at this difficult time for the Dil family.

Fr Dil was in Cape Town with wife Wenda for most of 2004 undergoing treatment for cancer. A visit to Lusaka had to be cut short when it became apparent that sufficient supplies of morphine could not be obtained locally. This problem means that travel back to friends and church in Lusaka, and work at MEC, though greatly missed, is not possible.

Fr Pierre has not regained his strength since the last treatment for pain and radiotherapy and is now only receiving pain medication. His eyesight has also recently deteriorated badly, though we continue to pray for recovery.

Wenda concludes with a new year message: "I do not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future."

Email Addresses

There have been several changes of email addresses at MEC recently, due to old ones receiving unmanageable levels of spam. Please note that no MEC addresses at zamnet are valid anymore. For the latest addresses please check the website Contacts page at http://makeni.org.uk/contacts.htm.

It is planned to remove most listing of email addresses from the website and to "munge" any displayed addresses (that is, insert irrelevant characters in them) to prevent their harvesting by spammers, so please check carefully any instructions on the website. However, for the time being, all previously publicised addresses ending "makeni.org.uk" should continue to function as normal. We apologise for this inconvenience.

Reconstructing our mailing list

This letter goes out to some extra addresses as we continue to consolidate various addressbooks and migrate the Friends of Makeni list from Fr Pierre Dil's lists to the website mailing list facility. This means that some addresses we have added may receive this mail in error, and that some people may not have received the previous newsletter, which is still available on the website at http://makeni.org.uk/newsletter.htm.

Please just let us know, by replying to this email, if you would prefer not receive the newsletter. Also please keep us up to date when your address changes!

Annual Donations

We wish you all a very happy new year, and hope that you will take this opportunity to make your annual Friends donation of 30 Euros, £20, $50 or K100,000 to the centre as faithful Friends of Makeni. This may be simplest by registered mail to Mrs Christine Allen, P.O. Box 50255, Lusaka, Zambia.

Mailing List

We hope the above reports are of interest to you. Please use them to publicise our work in your congregation and among friends. Its contents will be included also in our website which you may visit at http://makeni.org.uk. (There may be a delay between the newsletter and website materials being updated.)

Please let the webmaster (Anton Dil) know, by writing to postmaster @ makeni.org.uk:

·       If we are not using your preferred email address

·       If you would prefer not to receive the newsletter

·       If you know the address of someone else who might like to receive the newsletter

Yours in Christ

Fr Pierre J Dil, Wenda Dil and the staff of MEC