Inverness County Cares

Partners in Development

November 2020

By: Sr Agnes Bwalya

Kawambwa Site is a project under Chalice, which works with,  two schools, catering to visually impaired children. St Mary’s is in the Luapula Province and St. Odilia is in the Northern Provence of Zambia. The two schools have one site director (Sr Agnes) who co-ordinates all the activities of the sites.

Dealing with disabled children or those with visual impairment, one should have a smiling face, though totally blind pupils cannot see you, one’s facial smile picks what is in the heart, it is something that one needs to learn. At first, my smile was not even felt by the parents, and society, because of their negative attitude. Whenever an albino child or teacher was passing, they would create a distance, and once asked, they could openly say, and I quote, “I’m afraid of having a disabled child.” My heart was filled with sorrow, and I could cry the whole night, my eyes always were full of tears. However, when I’m with the blind children we could laugh, dance and sing, the laughing, the dancing and the singing was from deep my heart and children’s heart.

One day, I fainted when an albino child was kidnapped during the evening study and taken to the witchdoctor (very possibly to be murdered). An old woman was coming from the river, where she went to fetch water and she saw a huge man with a sisal sack with something inside. She saw the head of a person. The watchman reported and the police were alerted, luckily enough, the police officers passed through her home and got the news, and she also narrated and helped in locating the house of the huge man. The police officers used their skills and an albino child was found behind the house. The man was arrested and jailed for 4 years. (The child is fine and still a student at a Kawambwa school). My heart and mind could not believe and be convinced that a normal person can do such a thing. It came into my mind that, “A child protection policy should be formulated and followed in the two schools.” It was created and learnt in a hurry and under a critical situation.

Outreach programmes were made and we asked the congregation and the diocese to help us provide a safe method of conveyance as transporting the children safely is a critical challenge. St. Mary’s needs a bigger bus for moving children. (Albino children are always in danger of kidnapping, so security is very important as they travel to and from school.) We started in our local environment district and provincial level and we also made use of our local radio station. We advocate for the importance of life of disabled children and also for an increased awareness of the Zambian disability Act of 2012.

As a site director, the issue of raising the wall fence at St. Mary’s Special School, and the construction of a wall fence at St. Odilia Special School are of great importance in the prevention of student kidnapping. We hope the fulfillment of this idea will be made possible by many people of good will. (Note: the walls are under construction, completion depending on funds available.)

Travelling from Kawambwa to Mporokoso is not easy, the road (144 km total) is not tarred and full of pot holes, when I start off, for my monthly monitoring of the site, it often takes me 5-6 hours to reach Mporokoso on a good day and if public transport is used and the vehicle is not in good condition, one must stop to sleep on the way and arrive the following day. I reach the place very tired and when it comes to outreach in Mporokoso (family visits), it is not also easy, the land is very mountainous and sloppy. I walk, ride a bicycle and I do not mind where I sleep, what is in me is to see that, parents appreciate the education of their disabled children. Long distances for me is part of my prayer for people with good will who are trying to help the two schools that I sacrifice myself, so that God can soften their heart and help these disabled children.

How will a smile be on the faces of the albino and blind children? The answer is that, “a shared smile lies in your heart and in my heart.” Let us all stand up and join hands.  I need your smile. God bless.

Inverness County Cares always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate, can use the donate button on our website https://invernesscountycares.com or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares Box 99, Judique, NS, Canada, B0E1P0. Taxation receipts provided.

Remembering Alex McKinnon

Duine uasal ioraiseal  

(Scottish Gaelic – A noble and humble man)

Alex McKinnon was loved and respected by many.  We are proud to have had his endorsement of Inverness County Cares, as an honorary board member. He will be greatly missed  but his legacy of hospitality, friendship and  pride of his heritage will live on.

On Friday, October 9, Alex McKinnon passed away peacefully at home at the age of 90, spending his last days as he lived his life – surrounded by family, friends, love and music. Alex’s life was guided by faith, integrity and generosity. He loved music, story-telling and was a voracious reader with a keen interest in military history, politics and the Bible. He had a lifelong passion for politics and he was the unofficial president of the Angus L. MacDonald fan club. Above all Alex loved his family, and throughout his life they were his number one priority. He adored his wife, Geraldine who was his best friend and the love of his life, and who patiently cared for him during his decline due to Alzheimer’s. Alex spent his early years on the shores of Melville Cove and enjoyed his summers with the extended McKinnon and Jamieson clans in Inverness. A gifted story-teller, Alex regaled family and friends with his youthful exploits during the Second World War working as a bellhop at the Carleton Hotel and his many adventures in war-time Halifax. Alex launched his career with Red Rose Tea, introducing the tea bag to Cape Breton. He later became Vice President of Sales and Marketing with MacCulloch Building Products. In 1978 he fulfilled his dream to open his own business and moved the family from Halifax to Port Hawkesbury, where he successfully built McKinnon Home Hardware with his wife Geraldine working by his side. Community service was a guiding force in Alex’s life. He dedicated countless hours to many boards and volunteer activities. An advocate for music education, Alex worked to ensure opportunities for his own children as well as the broader Nova Scotia community through his involvement with the Halifax School Board in the 1970s and the Board of the Gaelic College in Cape Breton in the 1980s. In retirement, Alex was an active and beloved member of two communities: Fleming Heights, Halifax and Broad Cove, Cape Breton. He and Geraldine enjoyed walking the trails of the Dingle and Frog Pond, the Inverness Boardwalk and the Broad Cove Road, often stopping to strike up conversations with friends and strangers alike. Summer evenings were spent side by side watching the spectacular sunset from their cottage deck in beautiful Broad Cove. Alex’s love for his family is his lasting legacy. He is survived by his best friend and wife of 60 years, Geraldine (Nellis); children, Margaret (John Gray), Ian (Catherine Craig), MaryAnne (Andre Levesque), Christine (Paul MacDonald), Catherine (Alex Rhinelander) as well as his adored grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Alex is also survived by his brother, Murray McKinnon. He was predeceased by his parents, MaryAnn (Jamieson) and Murdoch McKinnon; his brothers, Hugh, Rupert and Neil; his sister, Christina Martin and brother, Francis who died in infancy. Halifax visitation will take place Tuesday, October 20th, 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. in J.A. Snow Funeral Home. Inverness visitation will take place Friday, October 23rd, 2-6 p.m. in Inverness Funeral Home. Funeral and burial will take place Saturday, October 24th, at 11 a.m. in St. Margaret of Scotland Church in Broad Cove. Due to COVID-19 restrictions the funeral is for family and close friends only. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia or Chalice. 

 

October 2020

Inverness County Cares (ICC) works in partnership with Chalice Canada, an international aid organization based in Halifax, to support the two schools under the name of the Kawambwa Project. The schools St. Mary and St. Odilia are located in Zambia where they educate and care for albino, blind, visually impaired and other vulnerable students.

This is the life story of one of the students at the Kawambwa school.

My names are Geshom Mwansa. I was born on 11th of December 2004. I am the last born in a family of five. My mother was incapacitated immediately after my delivery due to the complications she went through. Also, when I was born, I had a sixth finger which was cut immediately. I was kept in the hospital for almost four months and thereafter my father’s first cousin took care of me. When I was one year old, I suffered from measles and became totally blind. Life now went from bad to worse since my father who was a fisherman, could not go fishing because of my blindness. Well-wishers came on board to help me with clothes, food and other basic needs. I started school when I was 10 years old at St Mary’s Special School. There the teachers started to teach me mobility, how to eat and especially toilet training. Writing at first was a big problem. I had to learn to use a stylus. It is pen used by the blind person to form embossed (raised) dots on a paper. A Braille slate consists of multiple cells of six dots each. The slate is positioned/secured to a piece of paper with the cells forming a template to punch in the dots uniformly. The dots in each cell are arranged in one of the 26 unique combinations to form a letter of the alphabet. Here in Zambia, these two tools are very cardinal in the teaching and education of a blind child. Braille writing equipment and other teaching and learning materials are always needed to assist me and other blind pupils at school.

Today, my father who previously ran away from me, together with his cousin have come back, because now I live an independent life. My speech has improved and I am skilled at reciting poems, beating drums and playing music on a piano. I also sing well and am very intelligent in class. This year I will be writing my grade seven examinations, and I will pass and continue with my education. I would like to thank my teachers, care-takers (house parents) and many others who are helping me by providing and promoting my education to the fullest. My education depends on those mentioned above.

May God bless you all.  Geshom Mwansa.

ICC always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate, can use the donate button on our website https://invernesscountycares.com or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares Box 99, Judique, NS, Canada, B0E1P0. Taxation receipts provided.

 

This is the Braille slate, it is the template for all Braille writing. Each rectangular cell has the configuration for one of the 26 letters of the alphabet. Letters are formed by punching the correct pattern of the 6 
Braille stylus; This is the tool used to punch indentations in the paper.
Geshom Mwansa
Geshom Mwansa

Part 2: Inverness County Cares (ICC) provides Ugandan village with a water collection system.

Ngeza village lies in Kakumiro District in Western Uganda near the volatile Democratic Republic of Congo. Until recently this area was uninhabited, but recently discovered oil in the area has led to evictions and these displaced people have settled in a remote area of Kakumiro, which has very few roads or social services. Since there were no latrines or sanitary ways of disposing of sewage, the ground water has become contaminated by feces and human activity.

Transform a Village; an organization with the goal of helping poor rural villages is working with Sr. Justine to improve living conditions by providing schools, health care and sanitation to the Ngeza community. Because of the contaminated water the people of the village were plagued by water borne diseases and parasites. In 2018 Sister Justine, a resident of the village and a graduate of the Coady International Institute, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada, heard of Wishing Wells Society (WWS) and sent an application to Mary van den Heuvel of WWS in St. Andrews, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada. At that time Wishing Wells didn’t have the resources for a water collection system, but in June she applied again just at the time Inverness County Cares (ICC) became aware of the project and offered funding. This project would supply the village with four 10,000 litre cistern tanks for collecting rain water from the roofs of the village through a system of gutters.  

The process began in June 2019 under the management of Transform a Village, Sr. Justine and Wishing Wells. This was not an easy process and was fraught with obstacles and anxiety.

The first obstacle was sending the money to Ngeza. In July 2019 the Canadian government initially refused to allow the money to go to Uganda because of ‘unstable government situation’. Finally after much negotiation the money was sent to Uganda, but because of incorrect bank information it was returned to WWS. With corrections made, the money was sent again, but with the delays causing the Ngeza people much anxiety, fearing the money was lost to fraudsters. Finally in late September 2019 the money arrived but by then the Canadian dollar had fallen and less than anticipated arrived.

 Now it was time to go shopping for the equipment needed, but before this could begin torrential rains came and destroyed roads and swept away bridges. By the end of December the rains ceased and procurement of the four 10,000 litre tanks began. They were required to be custom made and the four needed to be transported by a very long vehicle. This made it necessary for the road to the village to be rebuilt and widened and bridges built to accommodate this large truck. The tanks were installed February 2020 and then Covid 19 hit the area and lockdown was imposed. Then the last disaster, a fierce windstorm blew one of the water collection tanks 275 meters into the valley below. It was irreparably damaged and could not be used for the water collection system. It will be used to hold water for crop irrigation.

In order to ensure the system will be a long term solution, the village council will collect a small fee from villagers for repair and maintenance and Transform a Village will continue to carry out a supervisory role ensuring the objective of the project is maintained.

The clean water in the three tanks is available to the families and they are smiling and giving thanks, “God has remembered us”. They now have clean clear water as opposed to the yellow contaminated water which was all they previously had to drink.  The people of Ngeza hold in great admiration the donors who cared for them, even though they have never met.

President of ICC, Ted Van Zutphen says “This is a story that warms our hearts. We are so privileged to have the opportunity to make such a huge improvement in the lives of the Ngeza villagers. We want to thank each and every one of our donors for being part of this beautiful venture.”

ICC always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate, can use the donate button on our website https://invernesscountycares.com or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares Box 99, Judique, NS, Canada, B0E1P0. Taxation receipts provided.

 

Part 1-Inverness County Cares provides Ugandan Village with Water Collection System

 Wishing Wells Society (WWS) is a registered Canadian charity founded in 2000 and based in St Andrews, Antigonish, NS, Canada. WWS is dedicated to building wells and irrigation ponds in small, rural villages. The projects began in India and have since spread to help communities in Haiti and Africa,  providing clean drinking water and ensuring better health. The irrigation ponds enable the growing of crops and food which relieves extreme poverty found in these regions.  Since 2000, a total of 108 village water or irrigation pond projects have been provided. These projects have a tremendous positive impact on the health of the people, the women and children who carry the water and their ability to grow a second crop in the dry season. This year WWS has reached the final year of their organization. The Ngeza water system, on which planning and work began in 2018, will be one of their last projects.

In the interim between their Kenyan and Zambian projects, ICC began a partnership in 2018 with Wishing Wells to provide the funds to install a rainwater collection and distribution system to benefit 350 families in Ngeza village, a very poor area, even by Ugandan standards.  Mary van den Heuvel, chair of Wishing Wells Society states, “The project was applied for by Transform a Village in Africa (TVA), and although we liked the project very much and TVA had excellent references, we just didn’t have the funds for it. We are so pleased that ICC has agreed to provide the $10,000  funding which is so desperately needed, for this water project.”

The project will provide four 10,000 litre storage tanks which will connect to collection centers in the community through pipes and taps. The new water system will serve the refugees, immigrants and displaced persons who recently settled in the area of Ngeza, without any government support. The project will improve the health and livelihoods of the people by providing them with a source of clean water. According to ICC member John Gillies “ICC is honoured to be a contributor to the water project in Ngeza village, Uganda”.

Inverness County Cares was founded in 2012 to address the wants of a needy school in Nairobi, Kenya. Throughout the journey with this school, ICC worked to help them develop 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. With the combined efforts of the two associations ICC was able to provide the Kenyan school with a foundation upon which the school is now able to continue to move ahead independently. With the wrap up of the Kenyan project ICC researched to find a new mission on which to focus its energies. The Ugandan project fit the bill as a short term, one-time commitment as ICC transitioned from working with the school in Kenya to the Kawambwa project schools in Zambia.

“We were familiar with the work and story of Wishing Wells and know the stresses of water poverty, so the WWS project was a very good fit for the ICC mission statement,” said ICC member Ted van Zutphen. “ICC is especially pleased to be involved, for in 2014, ICC was the recipient of a similar gift, when Living Water Africa provided our sponsored school (St Charles Lwanga) with a water collection system. We are well aware of the positive impact a source of water can be to a community.”

Next month in Part 2, we will share with you what it took to install and complete the Ngeza, Uganda project…not an easy task!

Inverness County Cares (ICC) always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate can use the donate button on our website  https://invernesscountycares.com  or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, Box 99, Judique, NS, B0E1P0. Tax receipts provided.

Joyful children who will have better health because of clean water.

July 2020

The Kawambwa school in Northern Zambia is situated in an area of Africa with distinct wet and dry seasons. During the wet season crops grow abundantly and in the dry season crops are planted and irrigated, producing three crops a year.

Inverness county Cares visitors to the Kawambwa School — Betty Jane Cameron, Charlotte Rankin and John MacInnis — were impressed by the school gardens which cover 5000 square meters of fertile loam soil. These gardens are part of an ambitious sustainability plan. They ensure the school always has ample high-quality food for staff and students. The gardens are also a source of revenue and produce is sold in local markets.

The gardens are tended by staff member Mr Victor Nkandu, school gardener John Mpundu, as well as students, including those who are visually impaired. Despite the fact many have limited vision they maneuver nimbly among the plants as they work in the garden.  Betty Jane remarked, “The children are industrious workers and help cultivating and carrying pails to water the plants when needed”.

The soil is enriched by applications of compost and fertilizers. The cultivation and tilling of the garden are carried out totally by hand without any mechanical tools or livestock involved. People of all ages toil daily at this very strenuous and arduous type of work. Charlotte Rankin noted, “Every morning, a work force of men and women set out carrying their large, heavy grub hoes to work in the fields of maize (very tall white corn). The gardens are enclosed by skillfully woven bamboo poles which keep out human and animal poachers”.

John MacInnis stated, “The wide variety of vegetables grown make for a colourful looking garden as well as allowing for diversity in the students’ daily meals”. The main school garden crops include maize, cassava (tapioca), cabbage, rape, Chinese cabbage, carrots, eggplant, green peppers, pumpkin, peanuts and tomatoes. ‘Greens’ are an important part of the Zambian diet. Young leaves of the pumpkins, rape leaves (part of cabbage family but similar to swiss chard) and sweet potatoes leaves are used in many flavourful recipes.  These vegetables are usually cooked with tomato and onion, and sometimes in a groundnut (peanut) stew. In Nova Scotia our main starch food is potato. Nshima is the staple food of Zambia. It is basically a very thick porridge made from finely ground white corn (maize) meal. It is served in semi-solid form and eaten with the hands. The students also enjoy the bounty from lemon, mango and avocado trees and pineapples are also a special favourite.

In addition to the plant menu options Zambians enjoy a special treat… termites. They are harvested at a particular time of year and roasted crisp… a good source of protein and according to Betty Jane Cameron, John MacInnis and Charlotte Rankin, quite tasty too.

Inverness County Cares (ICC) always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate can use the donate button on our website  https://invernesscountycares.com  or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, Box 99, Judique, NS, B0E1P0. Tax receipts provided.

Groundnut (peanut) field with termite mound in the center background.
Watering one of the school gardens
Nshima corn porridge

June 2020

Inverness County Cares (ICC) members met many remarkable people at the Kawambwa School in Zambia. This month we have chosen Fancy, an albino teacher at the St Mary’s School. His autobiography gives a sense of the challenges of living as an albino in Sub-Saharan Africa.

 Many people in Africa still believe that giving birth to a child with albinism is a curse and that the child can only be used for sacrificial ritual purposes. Hence the parents will be blamed, condemned and isolated from the rest of the family and community which makes many parents of children with albinism neglect them.

I was a firstborn son in a family of five girls and the only child born with albinism. My birth in a northern province of Zambia, brought confusion and conflict to my family, for some members on both sides did not welcome me (because of my albinism) and later made my father and mother separate for some years.

I began my schooling but sadly due to my poor sight and how badly some of my peers treated me, my parents were forced to look for a school that would suit my condition. I moved to Saint Odilia Special School for the Visually Impaired (SOSS) in Mporokoso. I and my four younger sisters started living a difficult life as children of a single mother, whose only income at that time was selling tomatoes and vegetables at the market.

Grade 8, was a wonderful and memorable year, for I was adopted by Chalice (chalice.ca), it was a life changing experience and that same year my parents decided to live together and we celebrated the birth of our last-born sister.

I moved on to  Mporokosa Secondary School and completed my senior secondary education. I was accepted to study for a three-year teaching course of information and communication technology and visual impairment in special education, at Zambia Institute of Special Education in Lusaka. I am now in my third and final year of completing my course. Financially it has been difficult for me to pay college fees in full, but I have survived.

My education at SOSS, made me realize the importance of choosing a  career so that I can help my fellow brothers and sisters with visual impairment have equal opportunities. Eventually my dream of being a teacher did come true and I went for my first teaching experience at SOSS. Teaching learners with visual impairments is very satisfying and I am enjoying my work.                                                                                                                            I wish to thank everyone who has contributed positively to my life, despite all the negative attitudes towards children with albinism and visual impairment. My special thanks to you the reader of my story, thank you for taking your precious time to read this.

Betty Jane Cameron (ICC) adds, “The first time I saw Fancy was at a football/soccer game where he coached and ran effortlessly the length of the field. I had no idea he was visually impaired. Fancy talked about the difficulties of travel by bus and transferring or waiting in unfamiliar places; of walking on the streets and fearing someone would attack him, or taunt him as if he were worthless; and the ever-present anxiety, worrying every night that he may be attacked in his home and kidnapped or killed for body parts. He told us he has never felt safe except at SOSS. He wondered how albino folks were treated in Canada.

 ICC always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate can use the donate button on our website  https://invernesscountycares.com  or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, Box 99, Judique, NS, B0E1P0. Tax receipts provided.

 

Betty Jane Cameron and Fancy
This picture at the keyboard was on a day when all interested teachers could have lessons. 
, Lillian is -top left, Fancy- top center and Simion- bottom left.  Fancy could pick out tunes and taught BettyJane the Zambian National Anthem.
Fancy

May 2020

John MacInnis, Inverness County Cares (ICC) member reflects on his adventures in Zambia:

Our trip to Northern Zambia with the Chalice team was truly a trip of a lifetime! We received a warm welcome, in appreciation of the help provided by Chalice (Chalice.ca), who sponsor 420 children in the Kawambwa and Mporokoso communities. Our hosts were very hospitable and we were always safe and well looked after. 

We were honored to be invited into homes in the community where we experienced the realities of their daily routines. We saw 10 people living in a three-room home, with several generations sharing a very small space. Seventy percent of people live off the land and have very little money. It is a place where owning a bicycle is a distinct advantage.

The Chalice team moved on after five days and we settled into our schedule created by Sister Agnes at the St. Mary’s school. She is a very organized leader who laid out tasks for us each day. My first assignment was to work for two days with Joseph the braille transcriber. He began his work by scanning text books into a word program, then adding explanations of pictures, graphs, and visuals and lastly processing the word data through a braille printer to create a braille page. Joseph was also a talented operator of a braille six key typewriter.

Every student at the school is taught to read in braille, even if they have some vision, for many of the them experience deteriorating sight as they mature. The students read braille by running their fingers over the bumps as quickly as we can read with vision.

My next assignment was to paint one of the dorms. They are two large rooms each with a washroom and shower. One of the teachers, an assistant cook, and I were the painting team. ICC paid for the paint which was the best that could be obtained in the town, but was similar to our old white wash. We had to put three coats of paint on the walls and four coats on the window frames! It took us five days to complete one dorm building. Next we replaced about twenty windows, which were only about one third of the total broken. We also replaced damaged light fixtures and missing light bulbs. It is difficult for the children with poor vision to see in the dorms and classrooms, when the bulbs are missing or burnt out.

Trades persons or handymen are always appreciated at the two schools, as maintenance is always needed. Money for repairs never gets in the budget. When I asked Sister Marjory, the accountant, to put money in the budget on a regular basis for maintenance, her answer was “What do we do, fix the buildings… or feed the children?” Very hard to argue your point with that response!  

 ICC always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate can use the donate button on our website  https://invernesscountycares.com  or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, Box 99, Judique, NS, B0E1P0. Tax receipts provided.

 

This is a braille type writer.

John and his painting team
Children attending the St odilia School.

April 2020

Teachers in Nova Scotia have expectations as to a basic functioning classroom, sufficient supplies, text books, assistance for special needs and a spacious well-equipped room. The teachers at the St Mary and St Odilia schools in Zambia have much lower expectations. When Charlotte Rankin, Inverness County Cares member and retired  Inverness County teacher  visited St Mary and St Odilia schools in Zambia she encountered the blunt reality of a school system that is bare bones. However, she also saw a school with students eager to learn and a group of committed and hard-working teachers, the majority of both groups being blind, albino or visually impaired.

The classes in the Kawambwa Project schools are held in sparse (but clean) brick buildings with polished cement floors. Teaching aids are almost non-existent and consist mainly of a Braille slate which the children use to manually and painstakingly take notes on their lectures. Children have a stylus and must work on the reverse side of the paper to punch the correct combination of 6 holes  going right to left, to represent the braille letters.

In most classes they rely mainly on rote learning where students listen and repeat what the teacher is reading from the text book. Since most of the teachers are visually impaired or blind the text books need to be transcribed into Braille for the teacher. Charlotte tells us that one of her tasks was to read the written text to the teacher who transcribed the lessons into Braille.

The classrooms are very bare without any of the basic tactile learning manipulatives used in Canadian classrooms. We are well aware of the varied learning styles of students but because of the scarcity of all teaching supplies and aids the children rely mostly on auditory learning and their skill at memorizing the lectures.

Charlotte mentions one blind teacher in particular, Mr Chembe who is a Grade 7 teacher with a class of 14 students and 3 text books/readers. Charlotte helped in his class by reading  stories in his English class. Mr Chembe would lead a discussion on the story and when several students answered in unison, he was remarkably, able to recognize the voice of each individual student. Despite his inability to visually view his students, Chembe had a wonderful rapport with them. That says a lot!!

The school has a library but it is very under supplied. It has few English books or transcribed braille books, to encourage the students to research or acquire a love of reading. Books are not leveled and students just have their memories or scant notes to help them study for their exams.

There is WIFI available in the school office but it is very slow and this along with the high cost, limits its use. If faster internet and enough computers and tech support were available this could provide the school with many resources to enhance the learning of Braille and provide audio curriculum. The school operates with this bare minimum of supplies and staff not out of choice but by necessity. The school atmosphere is respectful and positive and much that is good is happening in the lives of these vulnerable students.

ICC welcomes new members to our monthly meetings. Those  wishing to donate can use the donate button on our website  https://invernesscountycares.com  or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, Box 99, Judique, NS, B0E1P0. Tax receipts provided.

Charlotte Rankin teaching a class in Zambia.
The school library.
Students using the manual braille frames, to create braille notes for their lessons.

March 2020, ICC Report

Three Inverness County Cares (ICC) members and the Chalice (chalice.ca) African team began their journey to two of the Chalice/ICC sponsored schools in Zambia. They departed Wednesday January 15th , 2020 at 5:00 AM and reached the first school on the following Saturday. To reach their initial destination in Lusaka the capital of Zambia they took a total of five flights. On reaching Lusaka they met with the regional African Chalice audit team, then took a small twenty- seater Mahogany Airlines two-hour flight to Mansa and from there took ground transportation for 3.5 hours to Kawambwa. To reach the second school they had to maneuver past herds of goats and crowds of people as they detoured by impassable roads to reach their destination 6.5 hours later. Note: ICC members who visited Zambia, personally covered all their own travel and personal expenses.

John, Charlotte and Betty Jane were warmly welcomed by the students and staff at the Kawambwa site. The 17 staff are a remarkable group of teachers, two are albino, two are totally blind, two are sighted and the rest of the teachers are visually impaired. 

The students range from 4 years old to Grade 9. They are housed in dormitories where they are loved and protected by house parents in each building. The dorms are very basic with few of the amenities expected in our world.  Simple hygiene supplies we take for granted such as water, tooth brushes, toilet paper, soap, footwear and suitable clothing are luxuries.

The primary priority for all students is care and concern for each other, mobility in their environment and a knowledge of Braille.

Although John, Betty Jane and Charlotte noted a sense of a security and happiness in the schools they came to understand that the children and adults are all vulnerable in the wider community and face ongoing challenges. They spoke personally to a teacher who recounted his constant fear of abduction and the lack of safety in in his own home, (outside the school compound) especially at night.

Sr. Agnes, Head of the St Mary’s Special School for the Visually Impaired, Kawambwa, was delighted to receive the instruments purchased with the over $2000 donated by Inverness County friends. The school bought 4 guitars, 2 violins, 1 keyboard, 10 recorders, 1 drum and 2 sets of spoons, plus cases, strings, a tuner and adapters. Children of all ages and about 12 teachers all had the opportunity to learn the basics and 2 music teachers are confident in carrying on the program. Betty Jane compiled large print books (because of visual impairment) and huge, colourful posters to support the music program. Thanks to so many who contributed and who supported us with prayers and good wishes.

ICC welcomes new members to our monthly meeting where members exchange ideas, become informed on current developments and continue to work toward fundraising goals for the year.

Individuals who wish to donate can use the donate button on our website  https://invernesscountycares.com  or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, Box 99, Judique, NS, B0E1P0. Tax receipts provided.

For more information contact

John Gillies 902 787 3441

John MacInnis 902 787 2475

Colleen MacDonald MacLeod 902 787 2251.

 

13 grade 10 boys have begun studies in a large sighted secondary school far from Kawambwa. ICC members visited and gave them gifts from Canada.
The four little girls (Grade 1&2) were playing and wanted to have their picture together. 
Betty Jane with Staff and students of Kawambwa school as they receive new musical instruments provided by Inverness County friends.

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