Inverness County Cares

Partners in Development

Author: Inverness County Cares Page 1 of 5

January 2020

Inverness County Cares (ICC) is a local charitable organization, founded in 2012 and based in Inverness County, NS, with a mandate to assist children who are in desperate need.  Their current project involves supporting two schools for albino and visually impaired students in Northern Zambia.

These children face many life challenges. They are constantly in fear for their lives because their bodies and body parts can be sold to witchdoctors for very large amounts of money. Because of the hopeless poverty in this country many people are desperate enough to resort to murder to earn money in the marketing of albino body parts. In addition to these dangers they are often shunned by their families and the entire village because of witchcraft superstitions which lead people to believe that albinos are ghosts or enchanted. Paternity is often questioned especially in a community of colour, since they appear to be of a different race.

Albinism brings health problems that make life very difficult. Because of the lack of melanin, their eyes are very sensitive to light, they have poor depth perception, lazy eye (strabismus) and often are legally or completely blind. People with albinism have skin that is very sensitive to the sun. Sunburn is the most serious complication because it can increase the risk of developing skin cancer. A 2011 article published in the journal Dermatologic Clinics states: “Within Tanzania, less than 2% of albino children were expected to reach 40 years of age.” In order to protect persons with albinism from the sun’s UV rays sunglasses, protective clothing, hats and sunscreen are required. Some individuals may also need prescription eyeglasses to correct vision problems. Sunscreen is too expensive for many in sub Saharan Africa, forcing persons with albinism to stay in the shade or risk developing skin cancer. Albinism is a very misunderstood condition. There is a great need for education to de-stigmatize the condition, mitigate sun damage and correct public misconceptions.

With this appalling combination of circumstances most persons with albinism avoid leaving their homes during the day and fear being abducted if they venture out at night. Taking into account all of these challenges, persons with albinism are forced to live a very isolated life. 

Individuals who wish to donate can use the donate button on our website http://invernesscountycares.com  or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, Box 99, Judique, NS, B0E1P0. Tax receipts provided. For more information contact ICC members John Gillies 902 787 3441, John MacInnis 902 787 2475 or Colleen MacDonald MacLeod 902 787 2251.

December

Inverness County Cares (ICC), founded in 2012, is a charitable organization, based in Inverness County, NS. Our mission is to provide for the needs of children in desperate need. Our current project is to assist two schools in Zambia where children with albinism (albino) are provided with food, shelter and an education.

In 2015 Inverness County Cares recognized there was a need for a global partner to provide assistance with accounting, taxation receipts, auditing and onsite supervision of projects. A decision was made to work cooperatively with Chalice Canada, a Nova Scotia charity based in Bedford, NS. Chalice is a Catholic international aid organization focused on child, family, and community development. Children and elders are selected for their sponsorship program based on need and family circumstances, regardless of race, age, ability, gender, or religion.
Chalice has 57 sponsor sites, spanning across 15 developing countries. In October 2019 Chalice was chosen by McLean’s Magazine as the top Canadian International charity for 2019.

This year ICC is currently working toward a fundraising goal of $30,000, to provide the schools with:

  • School programming resources: large print books, optical aids, audio-books, laptops, school supplies, etc.
  • Medical needs: payment for medical examinations, medications, sunscreen, sun hats and sun glasses, long sleeve cotton clothes etc.
  • General support for the needs of the schools. 

 

During this Christmas season consider giving someone on your list, a gift which will bring joy to the lives of albino children and embody the true meaning of Christmas. Individuals who wish to donate can use the donate button on our website http://invernesscountycares.com

or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, Box 99, Judique, NS, B0E1P0. Tax receipts provided.

For more information contact ICC members John Gillies 902 787 3441, John MacInnis 902 787 2475 or Colleen MacDonald MacLeod 902 787 2251

 

This YouTube video gives a very realistic view of the challenges faced by persons with albinism in sub-Saharan Africa. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiriyOxuKg0 

“Attacks on people with albinism are particularly prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa due to superstitious myths surrounding their nature. Albinos in these regions are often shunned by their communities, and viewed as non-human spirits or ghosts. Some believe that minerals within albino body parts bring wealth and luck. Many albinos, including infants and children, are killed or dismembered for these parts.” -(insideover.com)

 

Refundable Beverage Container Fundraiser

Inverness County Cares (ICC) a local volunteer society was formed in 2012. Since then ICC has worked to support children in the third world by providing food, shelter and education.

Initially after our previous Kenyan project was completed in 2018, ICC cooperated with ‘Wishing Wells’, a community organization in St Andrews, Antigonish County, to provide a Ugandan village with a water collection system.  (Story details later)

Our current project is to provide food, shelter and an education to children in the St. Odilia

 and St Mary schools in Zambia. These schools are refuges for children with albinism (albino) and visual impairment. People with albinism in Zambia live in fear for their lives because of the high value placed on their body parts by witch doctors. This leads to abduction, dismemberment and death at the hands of believers in witchcraft. The schools are one of the very few places where people with albinism can live without fear.

One of our most successful fundraisers is the collection of refundable beverage containers. Collection depots are located in a cube truck box parked by Ted and Hermina Van Zutphen’s lane at the Corner in Port Hood and a similar truck parked in the Freshmart parking lot in Mabou.  We sincerely appreciate the generosity of Ted and Hermina Van Zutphen, and Wayne and Karen Beaton at the Mabou Freshmart for providing the parking spaces for the trucks.

Thank you to the generous local people who drop off their refundable beverage containers at the trucks. The bags are arranged and stacked by Ted Van Zutphen in Port Hood and Raymond DeBont in Mabou, a task much appreciated by ICC. When the trucks are full, the beverage containers are sold to the local recycle depot.  

The proceeds from the present load will be donated to our local Knights of Columbus Food Banks in Mabou and Port Hood, to help during the Christmas season. The rest of the year the proceeds go to support the current ICC projects.

Guide to beverage container collection

  • Drink boxes plastic, glass or tin juice containers 
  • Soft drink containers 
  • Alcoholic beverage containers
  • Water and flavoured water containers 
  • Any other sealed drink container except milk and milk products 
  • Please remove the caps

Zambian Schools for Visually Impaired Children

Inverness County Cares (ICC), a local charitable society was formed in 2012 with the goal of providing for underprivileged children in the Third World. In their most recent project, ICC will continue to work with Chalice, an aid organization based in Bedford, Nova Scotia. (www.chalice.ca) This current project will provide support to the Kawambwa group of two schools, which are located in the Northern part of Zambia. The first school Saint Mary’s, located in Kawambwa, was opened in 1961 by Dutch sisters and partnered with Chalice in 1997. The second school Saint Odilia, located in Mporokoso, is 200 km away from the Saint Mary’s school. This school opened in 1962 and partnered with Chalice in 2012. These schools cater to a large number of children who are born with Albinism. In addition to this, many of the children have physical handicaps, HIV positive status, hearing disabilities, epilepsy, hydrocephalus and high rates of visual impairment.

The schools are home to a large number of children, often with parents living in distant communities of rural Zambia, Southern Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. These children who have found refuge in the Kawambwa schools, are sent to the schools for protection from the dangers faced by persons with Albinism. They are in grave danger of kidnaping, mutilation and death from individuals who use the body parts of persons with Albinism for witchcraft rituals and other sorcery practices. This is common in parts of Zambia, Tanzania and some parts of the Congo and is one of the reasons many children escape their villages to find safety at the Kawambwa schools.  They cross dangerous rivers and walk through dense tropical forests to access the school’s protection. Sadly, many are lost on the journey, but those who succeed are finally in a place where they are protected and valued. The numbers grow every year because the persecution doesn’t end and is not likely to stop soon. The schools now have 420 children who are sponsored by Chalice.

For more information please contact ICC members at 902-782-3441, 902-787-2251 or 902-787-2475

Inverness County Cares Begins New Project

Inverness County Cares  (ICC) was founded in 2012 to address the wants of a disadvantaged school in Nairobi, Kenya. Throughout our journey with this school ICC has worked to help them acquire agricultural skills, with the aim of providing a means to develop sustainable garden practices and self-reliance. In 2015 ICC began a three-year partnership with Chalice, an aid organization based in Bedford Nova Scotia. Through the combined efforts of our two associations ICC was able to provide the school with a foundation on which the school is now able to continue to grow and move ahead independently. With the wrap up of this project in 2018, ICC has been researching to find a new project on which to focus our energies.

In July 2019 Inverness County Cares members met to choose a new Chalice partnership project. A consensus was reached to support the St. Odilia and St Mary Schools for Albino, blind and visually impaired children in Zambia.

Albinism is a genetic condition that results in the absence of melanin, a pigment that is responsible for giving color to the eyes, skin and hair. This lack of melanin means that people living with albinism are more susceptible to specific health conditions.

According to the Albino Foundation of Zambia, a great challenge facing more than 25,000 Zambians with albinism is over-exposure to sunlight, which has led to an increase in skin-cancer cases, especially in rural areas. Sunscreen, hats, corrective and dark glasses, long sleeved cotton shirts/dresses and umbrellas are desperately needed to protect them from the sun.

Persons with albinism also have personal safety concerns, stemming from social prejudice driven by harmful traditional beliefs, and connected to the trafficking of human body parts near the shared border with the Republic of Tanzania. Deprose Muchena, a spokesman for Amnesty International, said deep-seated cultural traditions persist, including a belief in mythical powers of people with albinism and a conviction that their body parts could change lives, bringing fabulous wealth, power or good fortune. Some believe that albinos are not human, and their only value is monetary and that they have gold in their bones.

These two schools are situated in Northern Zambia, an area bordering on Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania where these unsubstantiated cultural beliefs threaten the safety and well being of albinos.

The sisters of the Child Jesus, a local Zambian congregation, who are dedicated to protecting and educating these children, run the schools.

ICC looks forward to learning more abut the school and providing support to these needy children.

Completion of Kenya Project

In 2012 Inverness County Cares (ICC) came together with the purpose of providing for the daily needs and delivering education opportunities for children in the developing world. The St Charles Lwanga School in Nairobi, Kenya was the first beneficiary and a relationship was created, which helped the school get a good start and laid the foundation for sustainability. This happened in cooperation with other partners in Vermont, Puerto Rico and the Netherlands. 

Three years ago ICC and Chalice Canada developed a partnership working on a Community Partnership Project (CPP) with the St Charles Lwanga School. The three-year CPP with the St Charles Lwanga School is now complete. This project saw ICC provide the school with approximately $250,000 toward operating expenses and supplying the children with the necessities of life. Chalice in turn contributed more than $60,000 annually to this project, for each of the last three years. It was an honor, to be chosen to work with Chalice, and we want to express our sincere thanks. We are deeply grateful for their guidance, accounting expertise and presence on the ground in Kenya. 

 ICC has approximately 15 core members with many others who are always willing to provide assistance during fundraising projects.  ICC is forever grateful for the selfless people who have given so many hours of their time to ensure that the daily, weekly and yearly responsibilities of the organization were taken care of. 

ICC also wishes to thank those who supported our fundraising projects, donated to our fundraising, and to the corporate donations we received. A special thanks goes out to the students at Dalbrae, Bayview, Inverness and NSCC. We want to thank the Reporter for their continued support in sharing information concerning events at the school and keeping readers up to date on the activities of ICC.

We also wish to thank our Honorary Board members who lent their good name to our cause.

Although the project is over, individual relationships continue, as many of our ICC members had frequent contact with the school and actually spent time on location at the school in Kenya.  

ICC is presently contemplating our next steps and looking toward a similar project in the future…and will continue to collect recyclables in the truck trailers in Mabou and Port Hood.  Many thanks to the very generous people of Inverness County, and surrounding areas. You have made this project a resounding success. 

Betty Jane’s Report

Betty Jane Cameron, West Mabou, NS has just returned from her third consecutive trip to the St Charles Lwanga School (SCLS) in Nairobi, Kenya. This year she was there for three months and visited the SCLS as well as many other areas all over Kenya.

Betty Jane reports:

It is good to be back, but hard to leave the school, students and teaching staff. I also met many wonderful people in other parts of Kenya who welcomed me into their lives, their homes and their work.  Those I lived with are so caring for each other’s needs and supportive of all efforts to help their communities grow, their parishes flourish and support their children’s education opportunities. The students in turn strive their best and plan to help their families and communities to grow beyond poverty and live with peace, dignity and security.

There are often enormous obstacles to overcome. We try to help drug addicted students at St Charles Lwanga, but we have no medications and limited counselling. They tell us that most have been addicted since age 8 or 9 years old. I spent a little time in the large Mukuru slum visiting drug addicted primary students, mostly ages mostly ages 6-10. These children are in a program at school where they are housed and taught separately for one year with their own teachers, counsellors and social workers, with their families getting support and help. Talking with these children gave me new insight into the reality our students face in their struggle. With the dream of a new school getting closer we at St Charles Lwanga will be able to provide similar programs and perhaps use the current school as a rehab centre. It is so important that the new school will be in a small rural community away from the city, closer to the homes of many of our students in HomaBay County. It will be in the beautiful highlands of Western Kenya near Lake Victoria, with fertile land for agriculture, recreation/sports field and in every way a much healthier environment.

There are so many stories and memories that crowd my mind. Everywhere we visited there was laughter, tears, hugs and promises to return to try help and always remember. It is the friendships formed that keeps me returning to this special place – and I feel blessed, privileged and grateful to be a part of their lives.

I am lucky to have a young girl Tracey planning on coming to live with me and study engineering at STFX. She volunteered at our school after graduation in December. It is a good opportunity for all of us to meet and welcome her to our homes and share our culture as she and her family have welcomed me.

Working Toward Sustainability

This spring Inverness County Cares will revisit their long-range plan for their involvement with The St Charles Lwanga School. As all guardians we hope to see our project ‘grow up’ and become independent and self-sustainable. To realize this, the school needs to move to an area where there is ample space for the school compound and areas for gardens and fields for crops. The present day St Charles Lwanga School in Ruai, Nairobi had developed a reputation as an excellent educational institution. With this status they will be able to attract fee-paying students and continue to serve the students who cannot afford to pay fees.

The school administration has identified an area in Western Kenya in the Lake Victoria vicinity where the soil is fertile and rainfall abundant. Purchasing land in this area would take children from the influences of the city of Nairobi, and most importantly enable the students to concentrate on agriculture, which will supply the school with food and an income to support the needs of the school.

The University of Vermont and volunteers from GoGlobal have developed a program where students from St Charles Lwanga School will work cooperatively with the Perma-Culture Institute of Kenya and form alliances with the University of Nairobi. It is the intent of the Vermont delegation, to train students at SCL in organic farming practices, in order to provide the new school with guidance and expert help to develop their agricultural program. It is the expectation that this program will transition into a community agriculture college where the students from SCL will be able to acquire post secondary diplomas in agricultural practices. Following this trend it is the belief that this college and its graduates will be able to disseminate and share the agricultural expertise with the nearby communities. Sharing this knowledge of agricultural practices will enable residents to take part in community based initiatives to improve the agricultural knowledge and increase their standard of living.

Thanks to the generosity of their supporters Inverness County Cares has been able to reach their goal of $60,000 per year for the past three years. The new school land requires an additional $30,000 of which generous supporters have already donated $16,500. When the land is purchased, other funding partners (not ICC) will begin negotiations to determine the specifics of the new school and the funding particulars.

Betty Jane Cameron will return home on the 29th of April with many stories and new insights into the St Charles Lwanga School. We thank our supporters who make all this possible. For more information see our webpages.

Need for a New School

Inverness County Cares (ICC) is a community aid organization based in Inverness County, Nova Scotia. ICC has worked to provide for the educational and daily life needs of the 280 students at the St Charles Lwanga Secondary School (SCLSS) since 2012. The students of SCLSS are housed in dormitories on half acre on which the school and all buildings are situated. For many students this is their only chance to obtain a secondary education. Mostly all the students had a history of sporadic school attendance due to lack of money for school fees. Because of this they truly appreciate the opportunity to learn and are very serious about this opportunity to gain a secondary education.

The conditions at the school are crowded, with classrooms and living areas past the maximum occupancy. Their diet is simple and nutritious, mainly, beans, corn, Sukuma Wiki (collard greens), cabbage and occasionally tomatoes, with meat as a rare luxury.

The school is located close to the Nairobi International airport. This is an area that is rapidly being encroached on by the city of Nairobi and the influence of the Kibera Slums which are nearby.

The climate and growing conditions in this area are not suitable for farming or even small garden plots. The school grounds are very crowded and there are two seasons of very little rain, which turns the ground into a cement-like terrain with deep cracks. Water is supplied by a rainwater collection system (supplied by Living Water Africa), channeling rainwater from the roofs of all the school buildings into an 80,000 liter tank. Drinking water is supplied by Nairobi City Water, which is stored in a tank on the school grounds. There are no showers (bucket water bathing) and six, two-stall pit latrines provide the 280 students with toilet services.

Plans are in progress for a new school in the HomaBay area of South Western Kenya, near Lake Victoria. This new school will be located in an area with a climate much more favourable to sustainable farming on a 10 acre plot of land. Although the need is critical there are many obstacles that must be overcome before the new school is a reality. Anyone who wishes to financially support these student and school initiatives may do so by sending a cheque to Inverness County Cares, PO Box 99, Judique, NS, B0E 1P0.

Next month’s newspaper article: plans for a new school and the process of educating the students, teachers and communities near the school on farming methods that will work toward making the school self sustaining.

For more information please visit   http://lwangachildren.com/

 

1st- Betty Jane Cameron (second on right) with Dutch visitors. 2- Exam time in classroom, 3-Classes held outside, 4- Students, 5-Sustainable farming lessons.

Report From Betty Jane Cameron

On January 8, 2018, Betty Jane Cameron, Inverness County Cares member and extraordinary grandmother, nurse, midwife and music teacher departed on her 3rd trip to volunteer at the St Charles Lwanga Secondary School (SCLSS) in Ruai, Nairobi, Kenya. She checked in to Halifax airport with very minimum personal baggage but brought 9 bags of clothing, personal items and many musical instruments donated by the generous people of her surrounding communities. Betty Jane at 80 years, although very fit and energetic, finds it much more convenient to travel through the airport in a wheel chair. Imagine Br Kennedy’s dismay and surprise when on their first meeting three years ago, she arrived in a wheelchair. Much to his relief she proved herself exceptionally fit and is blessed with amazing stamina. This January her flight was diverted and Betty Jane and her 9 bags took separate flight paths. After several days of anxiety all nine bags arrived at the school.

Communications from Betty Jane.

January 11/18. I got here about 4pm Wednesday and was royally welcomed by the entire School with cheers and hugs. It was worth the whole very long trip. There is no sign of any baggage but a tracer is hopefully working its magic. Today is day 4 in the same clothes, but I did wash in a bucket… I feel right at home both here and home in Mabou where (due to power outages) there was no water for three days.  I am doing more medical work this year. I also am sharing the small dorm with the assistant administrator who is a good friend and it feels like a palace! I am so pleased that I remembered almost all the student’s names when I arrived.

January 17/18. Hi everyone, I’m halfway through week 2, very busy and very happy to be here. I am constantly tuning string instruments. Today I did a wash to everyone’s surprise. The Form 1’s have arrived and I have taught them health, geography, and basic music beats with drums, percussion and dance. We had lots of fun. I also teach health and PE to all classes weekly. We have music after school daily – so far recorder and guitar. The choir director is going to live here and study, and we are working on theory and each instrument so he can carry on all year. This Friday I go to another parish to do pastoral visiting and counseling

with the sick and elderly, and will be there a week. I miss you all but really feel that I belong to this community too and love the people and the work.

January 24/18. I was away all week visiting a parish. The pictures give some idea of what we did. I taught young children, visited many elderly and sick folk, conducted a marriage encounter class, attended the anointing of a dying man, two baptisms followed by their wedding two days later and worked with the catechists They wanted me to stay, but back at SCLSS they greeted me like I was gone a year! Say hi to all. Love Betty Jane.”

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