Newsletter from Friends of Makeni in Holland

I received the following newsletter from Truus Veldkamp on behalf of the Friends of Makeni in Holland – very nice reading!

Upon our return from Zambia, we are very happy and proud to announce you that the ITC project of Paul Jongeling is a complete success.  Paul, together with his wife Vera and their son Geert have set up a complete computer lab.  They worked together with two boys of the orphanage and with Andrew Mukuyamba.  As a result: 20 computers full of educational material, tuned to the Zambian educational system are functioning well.  From level preschool up to education of adults.  The full Wikipedia and hundreds of e-books can be consulted and can be used as from now on.

After only 10 days the whole system was working well.  From now on from the computer classroom and also from the library lessons can be given using audiovisual means. Four beamers are working; two of them are mobile and thus can be used in the different classrooms.  Six laptops and four desktops make it possible for the teachers to prepare their lessons from any place around.  All sets are connected wireless with printers.

Immediately training has been started for all teachers and members of the staff and also for 20 of the best students.  Apart from all this the usual computer lessons as of grade 6 have been restarted.  We do hope that this way Makeni can also attract more students paying for short courses.

Benjamin Zulu who last year already used audio education said: I’m afraid that I will get addicted to this way of teaching.  It offers so much more possibilities.  It’s unbelievable!

Makeni has a very big electricity problem going on during the raining season.  All the buildings are earthen but apparently not efficiently enough.  There is a constant leak of electricity and one feels it as soon as one is in contact with metal or water.  This was already known but the problem had been accepted as something related to the season.  Paul is an expert and has been working very hard to do something about it with good results but there was not enough time.  Too many buildings are loosely spread over the compound to solve the problem completely in such a short time.  They intended to try and send for somebody aware of solutions but we have our doubts about that.  Our full hope rests with Huib van Zessen, an electricity super expert going to Makeni in the month of May.

Another important issue of our visit was to take care of the fact that the pupils from grade 1 till grade 4 should get more hours of lessons.  Till now, these children only got lessons during 3 hours while the other pupils are going to school a full day.  After consulting the teachers Makeni started with the extension of hours and from now on and in the future all pupils from the kindergarten on till and included grade 12 go to school a complete day.

Of course, these very young children cannot a whole day only learn and be quiet.  Therefore we bought immediately play items and materials for drawing for different classes.  We learned very quickly that in Zambia the offer for these items are very limited.

Knowing that here in our country we have a lot of play material available for our own children,  I herewith make an urgent call to everybody to collect play and lessons material in order to send it to MAKENI.  Also our schools many times have a lot of items left over, things they do not use any more!

In fact, over there, they can use everything.  For the children playing with toys is a new phenomenon.  They would be so happy and thankful.  A container is on hold.  When exactly it will leave is not known yet but in the meantime we would be very pleased if you could collect toys and other (lesson) material that we can send over.

During our presence a lot of work was done concerning the roofing of the wash-place.  A complete new roof for the kitchen was not necessary.  The tabs not working any more in and outside have been replaced and so have the sinks.  The boiler has been reconnected and is functioning!!!  Now the stove can be used!

After a month of holidays spending with their families the children returned to the center.  For the first time the orphanage had been closed.  The few children without a place to go went together with the auntie’s.  Every auntie is responsible for a defined group of children.  This system should bring more specific care and attention for the children.

We also noticed a remarkable improvement of the atmosphere in the orphanage.  The children show they are better taken care of and they get better assistance.  They make their homework together and for the small ones there are small books and toys. The auntie’s must fill out evaluation forms and that gives more insight about what they are doing and what is going well or not.  It is a big step for them but we hope that through this system the care for the children still will improve.

There are three new girls.  In the beginning they were a bit lost but very quickly they were accepted in the group and enjoyed all activities.

Always, when you are at Makeni, you feel there is never a dull moment.  We, the Friends of Makeni, are in the middle of an exciting process.  We know that in the coming future important decisions concerning management policy will have to be made.  When exactly, we don’t know.  We are waiting together with everybody how the future will evolve.

During the staff meeting we noticed that from close by we have to follow the development in Zambia and consider in which way they can affect the development in the Makeni Center.  Zambia is on the rise and Lusaka is showing that effect: a lot of building is going on and a lot of new companies are established there mainly managed by foreigners.

As the number of pupils /students is shrinking we are asking ourselves whether all activities offered by Makeni center are still needed.  Everybody at the center is indicating one or other unit that according to them became obsolete.  In the future choices will have to be made and this not only regarding services offered but also concerning the quantity of personnel.  We are afraid that – regarding the financial issue – Makeni carries on too much with old practices.  They should get out of those habits in order not to bring itself unnecessary in financial danger

Thanks to the sponsoring by Friends and partners Makeni is offering a very good quality of education.  Now it is up to the teachers and staff to make choices and efforts who give the Center a dignified place in the Zambia of today.

The skill education still is not functioning, as it should.  The teachers oppose strongly to the fact that they should teach young students and no longer adults due to a lack of interest.  That means more work for them.

We discussed with the staff that in the future we will take more care of the settler villages.  They are very far away from the improvement we noticed in town.

A request has been made for three students: Audry in second year of social studies, Elisabeth for three years nursing studies and Ester for three years of pharmacy studies.  All three are from the orphanage.  In April we will learn the results of their final exams.  In June they hope that with the help of the Friends they will be able to carry on with their studies.  Ester would like to make studies to become doctor but expenses are twice as high as pharmacy studies.  Next year more children will make an application towards the Friends.  Of course we go on supporting the other children through the school foundation at Makeni.

As of today (February 29, 2012) we know that our Friends of Flanders, De Vlijtige Liesjes with Mieke Claus, gave their OK for Audry, Elisabeth and medical studies for Ester.  These Friends will be sponsoring the 3 students for the full duration of their studies on condition that they succeed and pass their exams and Makeni has made a contract with them.   They also sponsor 5 other orphans for school expenses.

During our visit we took also part in the official donation of the goats to Mwomboshi.  Now all the villages have goats.  The principle is that the young goats are distributed among those farmers who showed that they work hard and really participate in the community.

We are very sorry that we must say good bye to Marja Stam and soon also to Jan Kars as members of the board.   Marja and Jan we thank both of you very much for five years of hard work for a good case.  Keep well.  In the meantime we are looking for reinforcement of our board.

We will keep you informed through our website.  There you can also find the photo’s showing all new developments at Makeni.

With our best regards,

For the Board,

Truus Veldkamp

About Makeni Webmaster

I spent most of my youth in Makeni, growing up at the centre as it emerged from the bush, one building at a time. I now work in the UK as a lecturer in computer science.
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