Inverness County Cares

Partners in Development

Chewe Mupenzeni’s Story

By Goodson

Chewe Mupenzeni Lewis, an albino boy with low vision, was born on 8th August 2007 in Kasma district of the Northern Province of Zambia. He is the third born child (and the only albino) in the family of 6, where they are five boys and one girl. Chewe Lewis has low vision and he cannot see clearly from a far distance, due to albinism. Most of his family members from the father’s side accepted the child but other community members of Kasama district had mixed feelings about the birth of an albino child in the community. The people were fearful that bad luck would come in the village, because an albino lived among them. It is because of this superstition, that albino community members are shunned and isolated for fear they will pass on their albinism to present and future members of the village.

As result of this situation, his parents sought guidance on where the child could learn and stay safe without stigmatization. At the age of seven the Sisters of the Child Jesus helped his parents by giving them information on where Chewe could go and learn, which was St. Odilia special school for the visually impaired in Mporokosa, northern Zambia. Chewe is happy there as he is now protected and more secure. In the past he was isolated from other children in the community because of superstitions concerning albinos.

Seven years was very young age to leave his home but Chewe started learning how to write and read Braille and became very skilled. Fortunately, he did very well in all the subjects and moved from pre-school to grade 7 on a faster pace so that in 2020 he wrote his grade 7 national examination and passed well.

 Currently, he is in grade 9 preparing to write his grade 9 final examination in October 2022. He loves mathematics, social studies and religious studies. He plans to study to be a male nurse when he graduates from St Odilia. He is now able to go and visit the family after the school administration talked to his family on the importance of educating an albino child.

Ever since CHALICE started helping the him, there has been an improvement in his academic work. The security provided by the construction of a wall fence is helping him not to go out of bounds and enables him to spend much of his time studying. Before the wall fence was constructed people used to sneak into the school under the cover of darkness and forcibly cut albino children’s hair which they would sell for witch doctor rituals. In other instances, people would wander on to the school grounds posing as friends or helpers and take advantage of these vulnerable children and steal their meagre possessions (mattresses, clothing) and also steal clippings of their hair.

Thanks to Inverness County Cares community (ICC) and Chalice for the financial support which has made the construction of the wall fence possible. It has changed the life of this young boy for he is now in a safe place and especially safe from ritual killings which are happening in Zambia particularly in the northern province. May the almighty God richly bless the people of CHALICE and ICC for protecting the life of children living with albinism.

Inverness County Cares (ICC) is a local charitable organization, founded in 2012 and based in Inverness County, NS, Canada. ICC works in partnership with Chalice.ca, a Canadian charity, based in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Chalice provides guidance and assistance to help us provide a better life for the children at the Kawambwa schools. The Kawambwa Project involves supporting two schools for albino and visually impaired students, in Northern Zambia. Inverness County Cares always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate, can use the donate button on our website   https://invernesscountycares.com When using E-transfer, please include your mailing address for CRA tax receipts and a thank you message.   E-transfer address:  invernesscountycares@gmail.com or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, 5414 Route 19, Judique, NS, Canada, B0E1P0. Taxation receipts provided for USA and Canada.

Beatrice’s Story

I am Beatrice Chipulu, an albino child aged 15 years. My family has three girls and four boys. All the boys are black and all the girls are albino and we girls all suffer from low vision. I am the second born in the family of Prosper and Grace. Both my parents are black but with a brownish skin. Albinism was inherited from both our parents. On our mother’s side, l was told, my great grandparents had one albino child and on my father’s side my aunt has three albino children and they live in the Copper Belt of Zambia.

My father is not educated and has never stepped his foot in the classroom, but he knows how to write his name. Despite his lack of classroom learning he is an expert in fishing and he has three nets and a boat. He was taught these skills by the fishermen he worked with. He is proud of his ability to provide for all his family.

My mother reached her secondary level grade nine and she then married my father. Last year their marriage was blessed in church at Christmas, it was a great celebration. She is good at knitting especially baby layettes and people come to buy these beautiful sets. She sometimes works selling my father’s fish. Our family home is at the shores of Lake Bangweulu the only lake in Zambia which doesn’t share with other countries. Bream is the species of fish found in this river.

My father and his family love us very much, especially our paternal grandmother Elizabeth who truly loves us totally. My mother’s family were not very welcoming to us three albino girls. Our mother Grace was happy to send us for extended amounts of time, to her mother in law’s home for meals, bathing and daily living. Our grandmother Elizabeth understood my mother’s attitude toward us for Grace preferred for her children to live with their paternal grandmother and left us there for months. Eventually our father joined us at our grandmother’s home.

Grandma Elizabeth taught us all domestic works, she taught us a love of flowers and vegetable gardening. She also encouraged us to associate with others despite the beliefs and myths perpetrated concerning albinos. The greatest gift she has given to us is praying the rosary. Grandma Elizabeth and my father are strong Catholics.

I entered St Mary’s Special School with the help of our parish catechist who once lived in Kawambwa and knew about the special school for the visually impaired and blind. He communicated this to my grandma Elizabeth. In 2015 when I was 8 and Abigail was 6 she took us to school. Abigail was in the pre-school for two years. In 2022, Abigail is in Grade 6, and am in Grade 8. When we left home to go to the St Mary’s School, our youngest sister Hellen Chipulu was very upset since she was separated from her sisters when we went to the Kawambwa school. At the age of two years seven months, she joined the Kawambwa school after my father talked to Sr Agnes and explained the situation.

The People in our village were challenged by our unusual confidence and activeness. It is common for albinos to be shunned and isolated from their community members because of the superstitions perpetrated by witchcraft and black magic. Grandma Elizabeth taught us that we were clever, loveable persons. With this confidence in our hearts, we became involved in community activities. We can dance all sorts of dances, sing and are very good story tellers. We have joined the Holy Childhood group at church, we read in church and share the word of God. Our interaction with our people has unveiled volume and volume of our being. Everyone is surprised as to our abilities. We are well treated and loved, because, “We have provided a mirror.”

My dream is to be social worker and fight for the rights of the disabled and the vulnerable. Parents and communities need to be educated concerning the cause of albinism and understand albinos are not supernatural or dangerous. I have accepted my condition of albinism and I encourage my young sister Abigail to accept herself as well.

l love St Mary’s School so much for it has enabled me to fulfill my dream, because, “The sky is the limit”.

Inverness County Cares (ICC) is a local charitable organization, founded in 2012 and based in Inverness County, NS, Canada. ICC works in partnership with Chalice.ca, a Canadian charity, based in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Chalice provides guidance and assistance to help us provide a better life for the children at the Kawambwa schools. The Kawambwa Project involves supporting two schools for albino and visually impaired students, in Northern Zambia. Inverness County Cares always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate, can use the donate button on our website   https://invernesscountycares.com When using E-transfer, please include your mailing address for CRA tax receipts and a thank you message.   E-transfer address:  invernesscountycares@gmail.com or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, 5414 Route 19, Judique, NS, Canada, B0E1P0. Taxation receipts provided for USA and Canada.

An Albinism Success Story

 

By: Christine Chisunka

I am Christine Chisunka, twenty-four and the last born in a family of three. My family was very poor and my mother died when I was three months making it hard for my father to afford a baby, so I was taken to my uncle’s house. He had a wife (Beatrice) and Moses, a seven-month boy. We were breast fed by my Auntie Beatrice as twins. My auntie’s family members didn’t accept me and were not in favor of having me in the family… but I needed to be fed. Beatrice explained to me later that, I was feeding from the left breast and Moses from the right. She thought Moses could not be fed from the same breast with an albino child. When she took us to the clinic for immunization a nurse (Joyce) noticed her because the two of us were crying after being injected. She talked to the nurse and she explained the cause of albinism and that it couldn’t be transferred to Moses through breast feeding. Her mind changed and she started adhering to the words of the nurse and we grew as twins.

As an albino I was always different. My upper eye lids are very weak, I have only a specific angle where light passes to reach the pupil. I am able to read and write with a pen but I am more comfortable with Braille. I had surgery on my eyelids twice. I like darkness because it does not strain my eyes.

When I grew up, I asked why I was different from Moses, my aunty again asked the nurse Joyce. She said, “In the world we are not all the same, we are different, but we are all God’s children and God loves us all”. I understood and she invited me to her home. I noticed her husband was very happy and I saw the difference in the treatment. I was given a warm welcome and played with her children, l never wanted to go home. The routine of visiting her started and the issue of starting school came up. I envied her children going to school. Life was better at Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Chansa’s.

My biological father is a bricklayer and he was hired to build a school in another district. He was providing all what was needed for my upkeep. He identified a suitable school, which was St Mary’s Special School in Kawambwa. He told the family, especially my second family of Mr. Patrick and I was taken to Kawambwa School. There I found a lot of albinos and I was comfortable and St Mary’s was my home from grade one to nine.

In grade six, my earlier question arose of why we are different in colour? I was sick and I was taken to the hospital, where I met a nurse who was friendly and I asked the same question! “Why is my colour different from others?” She explained to me about the genes and she encouraged me to like the subject science. I went to school happy to share with my fellow albinos.

An albino faces hardships at every stage of life. As previously explained, Auntie’s relatives are still offended by me but surprisingly, l and Moses are very close. Sometimes I get upset by their comments but at the same time I am consoled by the love I still get from other members of the family. I challenge my critics by the way I respond to issues of life and family issues. When one is sick in the family, during holidays I make sure that I nurse him or her. I am very hospitable, and visit members of my family without expecting any reward. This is the simple weapon that I use.

I have developed the inner fear since I never trusted anyone because of the witchcraft rituals surrounding my village. Whenever I am at my home village if I have to go out, I need to be in the company of others I trust. This inhibits my social interactions. “Prayer is key, and is key to my success”.

 

Albinism has also affected my biological father’s life. Since the death of my mother, my father has been single. When he brings home a woman he wants to marry and she learns that he has an albino child, she leaves my father alone. She will come up with an excuse maybe of visiting her family members, then that is the end of their marriage plans. It has happened often and he now stays with my elder sister Grace.

My attendance at St Mary’s was not easy, due to my father working at a distant place, I was not reporting to school on time or missing one academic term. It was worse when my uncle and aunt shifted after securing a job in the mines and Mr. and Mrs. Patrick were transferred to another district. I remained in the care of my elder brother Peter and my sister Grace. At school I became close to one of the caregiver’s daughters. She was a preschool teacher who I started staying with and am staying with her yet during holidays. She is my fourth foster parent. I am in the third and last year of my teacher training at Malcolm Moffat school, as a teacher of English and religious education.

One of the things that has helped me to cope with life is gardening. I like growing assorted vegetables, flowers and fruits. All the difficulties that I am going through ends in a garden, I can cry just there, then I go home and life continues. In my life I associate “Green” with creation and I like the colours green and white.

In 2017, when I completed my senior secondary level, I stayed in my village for two years, because my very ill father was diagnosed with diabetes and as his children, we needed to nurse him. While seated in the garden the idea of growing cabbage and visiting the agricultural department came to me. These vegetables (cabbages) sustained us and helped us to buy medicine for my father.

I am in the last year of my teacher training at St Mary’s Special School until April and in December 2022 I will be writing my last examination. I am very happy and I try my level best in all areas of life.

Inverness County Cares (ICC) is a local charitable organization, founded in 2012 and based in Inverness County, NS, Canada. ICC works in partnership with Chalice.ca, a Canadian charity, based in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Chalice works with us  to help us provide a better life for the children at the Kawambwa schools. The Kawambwa Project involves supporting two schools for albino and visually impaired students, in Northern Zambia. Inverness County Cares always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate, can use the donate button on our website   https://invernesscountycares.com When using E-transfer, please include your mailing address for, CRA tax receipts and a thank you message.   E-transfer address:  invernesscountycares@gmail.com or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, 5414 Route 19, Judique, NS, Canada, B0E1P0. Taxation receipts provided for USA and Canada.

 

Looking Back at 2021

 

Inverness County Cares (ICC) is a registered charity based in Inverness County, Nova Scotia, Canada. Our current project is with two schools in Northern Zambia, called the Kawambwa Project.

The two schools, St Mary in Kawambwa and St Odilia in Mporokosa are schools which provide an education in a safe environment for albino and blind students. Persons in East Africa who inherit the gene responsible for albinism are at a distinct disadvantage from birth. Age old superstitions concerning albinos are still a part of cultural beliefs. Initially at birth, when a black mother gives birth to a seemingly white child there is suspicion as to its true parentage. These children are frequently abandoned or live a secluded existence where they are a source of shame. They are neglected and isolated with the belief that they can pass on their condition to others. These children often lack social exposure and access to an education.

Albinism comes with several burdens for the children. Their sight is very poor or non-existent and deteriorates as they mature. The schools in the communities where these children live, lack the special interventions needed for visual impairment. Therefore, many of these children are developmentally delayed due to lack of stimulation. The sun is also a great source of danger to these people, for without melanin in their skin they have no protection from the sun’s ultra violet rays. Sun screen and protective clothing and hats are in short supply meaning albinos are almost certain to acquire cancerous lesions leading to very serious health consequences.

In addition to these disadvantages, they must deal with the dangers of the superstitions which place great value on the body parts of albino people. Unscrupulous individuals kidnap them in order to sell limbs and genitalia to witch doctors for fantastic prices. It is believed by many, that potions and charms made from albino body parts will bring great wealth, good luck and political success to people who purchase these spells, potions and charms from a witch doctor. The lucky ones who survive will often have their hands or feet amputated to satisfy the body parts trade.

Albinos of all ages live in constant fear of abduction and mutilation. The students at our sponsored schools are provided with an education and the confidence to navigate the world outside their school.

Inverness County Cares has pledged to contribute to the Kawambwa Project in Zambia for four years (2019-2023). Our yearly contributions are divided into two parts.

  • We have pledged $30,000 CAD per year to promote education, provide medical needs and help with nutrition, in partnership with Chalice Canada, an international aid organization based in Bedford, NS.
  • Funds collected above the $30,000 CAD will be used for high priority purposes determined by the school administration.

This past Calendar year ICC, with the support of generous donors, has supported three much needed extra projects.

Wall-fence: St. Mary school had a six-foot high wall which was extended upward another two feet. St. Odilia did not have a perimeter fence surrounding the school compound, making security a critical issue for Sister Agnes, the school administrator. After the abduction of a student from the sleeping quarters –later rescued unharmed — she made the building of the wall-fence a top-priority. She saw that students were terrified of intruders who could kidnap them or steal their personal belongings. The wall fence at St Odilia is nearing completion. The joy and security the wall fence brings is immeasurable.

28-seater bus: Students at the Kawambwa Project schools come from villages both near and distant from the school sites in Zambia. At the beginning of each school term the children must be picked up from their home and returned after the school term ends. The school had a small 12-seater van which required many trips to collect all the students. Inverness County Cares contributed a portion of the cost of a new 28-seater bus, which can make fewer trips while collecting more passengers. The bus is also used for field trips to educate the students and give them life experiences. Its delivery was greeted with joyous celebrations by students and staff.

Sisters’ convent roof: The Kawambwa Project schools are administered by the sisters of the Child Jesus, a Zambian order of sisters. The sisters live in a convent which was in urgent need of roof repair because of streams of water pouring into the Sisters’ residence every time it rained. ICC and Chalice have provided the sisters with the funds to repair the roof in the very near future.

Future extra project: ICC has received from Sister Agnes, the school administrator, a list of priority and urgent needs which the school staff has identified. It is to these areas any additional funds raised by ICC above $30,000 will be directed. The list includes tile repair, toiletries such as soap and sunscreen and special paper for producing Braille texts. 

ICC depends on the generosity of many kind supporters to purchase these supplies and complete this necessary maintenance work.

In addition, ICC members continue to work diligently to generate income through a variety of fundraising projects.  Refundable bottles and cans which are dropped off at our collection sites produce a reliable monthly income. Each November we give back to our own communities by donating that month’s revenues to the local food banks. Thanks to much help from ICC members and our local community, ICC grew a cash crop of 5,000 pounds of potatoes in the fall of 2021. ICC has hosted several popular community dinners, held a large pizza sale event for several years and entertained many with lively community concerts. This fall we planted a test plot of garlic to explore the possibility of selling this crop in the future.

Many, many thanks to our wonderful supporters.

Inverness County Cares (ICC) is a local charitable organization, founded in 2012 and based in Inverness County, NS, Canada. ICC works in partnership with Chalice.ca, a Canadian charity, based in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Chalice provides guidance and assistance to help us provide a better life for the children at the Kawambwa schools. The Kawambwa Project involves supporting two schools for albino and visually impaired students, in Northern Zambia. Inverness County Cares always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate, can use the donate button on our website   https://invernesscountycares.com When using E-transfer, please include your mailing address for CRA tax receipts and a thank you message.   E-transfer address:  invernesscountycares@gmail.com or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, 5414 Route 19, Judique, NS, Canada, B0E1P0. Taxation receipts provided for USA and Canada.

Giving Thanks

By Sister Agnes Bwalya

In our northern Zambian tradition, when workers go to work in the fields in early hours of the day, parents or elders in the family prepare food to eat during and after cultivating. The food prepared is nicely wrapped and put under a tree, sometimes covered with leaves. Everyone starts cultivating and after working for long hours, everyone sits under the tree where food was left, washes their hands and shares the food. Now it will be time for fun and laughter, everyone will make an effort of cracking a joke, good days are remembered, good dances are danced including songs with a message about hard work. When work is done, now it is the turn for young ones to collect plates and other utensils used. On the way home, young ones carry all tools used for cultivating including their sandals. When they reach home water is prepared for bathing and food is prepared for the workers, (men and women). It is a humble way of saying, THANK YOU to those who worked in the field.

In a similar situation the Kawambwa site would like to thank Inverness County Cares staff, sponsors and donors and everyone who has contributed directly or indirectly to make the dreams of Kawambwa school sites come true. You are giving sight to the blind, smoothening the skin of the Albino child and putting a smile on the faces of vulnerable children. You bring hope and happiness to these disabled and vulnerable children.

We are ready to carry your sandals and prepare your water for bathing, a humble symbolic way of saying THANK YOU Inverness County Cares for everything. In return Kawambwa sites will pay back through prayers. Kawambwa site wishes Inverness County Cares and community, a Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year in style.

Zambian Christmas:

Christmas in Zambia is celebrated in style. It is a great event with preparations both by children and elders. Children of the same age form small groups and share an assortment of food and drink. All ages participate in delicious food and good times. A traditional drink called Chibwanto is brewed using maize and munkoyo root. Chicken is most popular but goat/sheep/game meat/cow/rabbits are enjoyed as well.

Every evening, children prepare games to be performed on Christmas day. The beating of drums is done in a colourful way while traditional songs are sung and danced. Children go in the bush to collect our Christmas flower, which has green leaves and a red blossom. it is very important and shows love and appreciation.

The Christmas church service is a big part of the celebrations and in schools and churches the nativity story is acted out by children. On the evening of Christmas Eve 24th of December, whoever you meet, their greeting will be “Christmas”. The first person to say “Christmas” will be given fruits, food or a token gift. The same applies on New Year, where the traditional activity is to leave a branch or to throw it on the roof and shout “New Year”. The secret is that one should be the first, to say “New Year”. Christmas is celebrated in extended families and the community. It is a great celebration for parents and elders with Christmas carols being an important part of the festivities.  

Decorations are made in a traditional way. Most houses are made out of mud and are festively decorated with different colours of soil. People make sure that money is saved to purchase new colourful clothes for this special occasion.

Christmas trees are not part of Zambian traditions, instead a crown like made out of grass is made, to hold a tin with a Christmas flower. The grass and weeds in the courtyards near the homes is well slashed and tidy. However, these days in towns, some Christmas trees are decorated in shop windows. A Zambian Christmas centers around celebrating the birth of Christ and spending time with friends and family enjoying food, music and dance.

The Kawambwa schools send best wishes for a Happy New Year and many happy days in the future.

Inverness County Cares (ICC) is a local charitable organization, founded in 2012 and based in Inverness County, NS, Canada, 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. Inverness County Cares always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate, can use the donate button on our website   https://invernesscountycares.com

When using E-transfer, please include your mailing address for CRA tax receipts and a thank you message.   E-transfer address:  invernesscountycares@gmail.com

or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, 5414 Route 19, Judique, NS, Canada, B0E1P0. Taxation receipts provided for USA and Canada.

 

My Greatest Success: A Marathon Race.

 

 

By: Joyce Chanda

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.

I am Joyce Chanda age 20 years and the third born in a family of six, five girls and one boy. I have partial-sight, one eye is completely blind and the other eye has a special angle in the pupil of the eye which receives light and allows me to see. My biological mother, one day told me that, when she conceived, she attempted abortion by drinking traditional herbs. These herbs, affected my eyes and I was born with partial sight. My remaining eye’s visual acuity is constant, it doesn’t diminish. When I was young, I thought this is how people’s sight was. Now I have learnt to accept this condition I was born with.

At my family home in my village, I was not allowed to associate with others, for they were afraid of me hurting myself or falling into a ditch. Most of the time I just stayed home. Because of my isolation and sad living situation my cousin Petronella took me to live at her home, (this is where I live now when I am home from school).  She is a house wife and a subsistence farmer. I don’t call her cousin, instead I call her my mother, because she has helped me so much in my education. She has taught me all house chores, including cooking foods mixed with ground nuts and she helped me to be sociable. She has provided encouragement, guidance and given me confidence.

In 2007, a student at St Mary’s Special School by the name of Jonas convinced my mother that I should be taken to St Mary’s Special School in Kawambwa, it was not easy for her to accept, but later on she accepted.

At Kawambwa School I had the privilege to be taught by Mrs. Elizabeth Kinda from grade one to four. She helped me so much in my education. In extra-curricular activities I excelled in sports and Madam Gillian Chileya and Mr. Mwangula Newman coached us well, especially long distance running. During my secondary school period, I was the best runner in my hostel and it was then I developed the habit of running early in the morning on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I still continue this habit and it developed my desire is to compete and win and now my dreams have come true.

Today, I am a pursuing a course in education as a secondary home economics teacher at Mansa Teachers’ Training College and in the third and last year of my course. My final examinations start this month, 30th November 2021, up to 10th December, 2021.

I had the opportunity to attend and compete in the running race called a Marathon. It was organized by all eight colleges in the province and each college sent six participants to the race, including a disabled person (if any). I was chosen at my college, soon trainings started and I become committed.

Many had doubts in my ability including the principal of the college, but I assured them I was capable. My lecturer in charge of the special unit, Mr. Kaoma Matthews encouraged me and emphasised, “Disability is not inability”, and many other friends came on board to support me.

The actual day came, November 13th, 2021, all instructions were given to us. A solider was assigned to run behind us in case I experienced blurred vision. In addition, the solider was to blow a whistle in case I missed the route. I tell you, these considerations, gave me confidence, joy, peace and happiness and inspired my colleagues as well.

We started running in the morning around 6:00 AM, I ran very, very fast in the first 30 minutes and I reduced the speed for ten minutes, again I ran like a jet, for another 35 minutes. I was very constant with my running speed until very close to the finish. When I looked behind I saw a man coming and I felt as if he were chasing me… from nowhere, energy came and I ran very fast and reached the finish line.

I just heard people shouting, “Disa Joy! Disa Joy! (an abbreviation for disabled and Joyce.) Guess! The! Position! One!!!! In 21 km women’s Marathon race for students in higher education.

What a great success! What a success!! I was jubilant.

My winning of this medal, has created in me total SELF confidence. Now I believe that I can do things with practice. I am so happy. My heart has filled with joy and confidence in myself and it has come with a great lesson to me… that I can do anything despite of my condition.  I learned is the heart, not the physical well-being that determines success. What you tell your heart, is what will happen.

My staying in Kawambwa has been a great blessing, physically, psychologically and spiritually. Thank you Kawambwa for giving me the opportunity to realize my dreams. 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

When using E-transfer, please include your mailing address for CRA tax receipts and a thank you message.   E-transfer address:  invernesscountycares@gmail.com

or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, 5414 Route 19, Judique, NS, Canada, B0E1P0. Taxation receipts provided for USA and Canada.

 

Wall Fence Construction at St Odillia

 By: Nervous Chimba

My name is Nervous Chimba, a totally blind pupil at St Odillia Special School for the blind and albinos in Northern Zambia. I am from a family of four, with two girls who are sighted, with myself who is blind and my brother who is deaf. My brother by the name of Savour was involved in a road accident at the age of twelve when coming back from school. He was hit by a motor bike and lost his hearing and myself I was born blind. My parents named me James, but as I was growing, I was nervous in most situations, especially when it is dark or when left alone. My fears were expressed in dropping tears and I nicknamed myself “Nervous” and it is now my name, and I like it so much.

My mother died of tuberculosis and when I was six and my father died when I was nine. He fell when he was cutting branches from a tall tree on a windy day. In the Northern part of Zambia, people cut branches to burn and create fertilizer for cereal crops, it is called the Chitemene system of agriculture. Today, I live with my grandparents (when I am not in school) and their first grandson who takes care of us. I am 19 and in grade eight, I started my grade one at the age of eleven.

St Odillia since its inception in November 1962, did not have a wall fence and students were at risk. We have experienced a lot of theft from the outsiders, since people from the nearby village can enter our hostels and get our belongings. Inside my heart, I never trusted any one and trespassing was very common. I often wondered what could happen if a murderer entered my hostel and attacked me as I was sleeping. Yes, I could jump and shout, “Thief!! Thief!!”. However, since I am blind, when asked to explain, I could only say, “I heard the voices of men and I felt as if they were advancing towards me”.

Sr Agnes the school administrator explains, “A totally blind person is very insecure inside (inner fear) and this needs to be managed or a blind person will be disoriented and unable to live confidently. Blind students living in an environment where there is fear of abduction, trespassing, theft and unknown voices, experience great torture and terror of the unknown. “Activities for Daily Living” is a very important course in our school curriculum, for it teaches blind people how to come to terms with their environment. Therefore; a wall fence is the greatest tool in managing insecurity for a totally blind person.”

This state of fear and dread I thought was hidden in me, was in reality noticed by many. One day an albino friend Matthews Chishimba, approached me in a friendly way and also expressed his fears for our wellbeing. I tell you I was consoled as he explained to me that he was also afraid to be attacked by strangers. Through this conversation our friendship started and we tried to analyse the situation. One day we organized a meeting and approached the school administration over security at the school. We suggested two things, to increase the security personnel and to build the wall fence. It was not possible for the funds just were not available, what remained was prayer. Here I can strongly and boldly say, “Prayer is the only key.” We started having novena prayers privately in our hostels, our housemothers knew and they also encouraged us.

God answered our prayers in August 2021, through Inverness County Cares, a society in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada. Our site director Sr Agnes Bwalya came and announced to us that the wall fence we so fervently prayed for, would be a reality. We cried and rejoiced. All of us at once said, “Yes”. It was amazing, inside my heart said, “God is great and he is the God of surprise. God is ready to answer to our prayers, God is not deaf”.

The construction of the wall fence is underway with two sides completed and they are still building the other two sides. The completed height of the wall will be 15 blocks from the foundation to the finished point, each block is 8 inches with some mortar between each block. Three blocks will be buried in the underground leaving 12 blocks as the final height or approximately 8 feet or more.

 A great burden will be lifted from our shoulders. We will be able to live and sleep confidently within the walls of our school. All pupils, especially the Albinos who are terrified of the stories about killings and mutilations, will have peace and security. Our privacy which is key to human dignity, will be supported. The wall will be like the arms of the Lord, embracing us and protecting us. We cannot ever begin to express all our gratitude for this act of goodwill, from our friends in Canada.

Inverness County Cares always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate, can use the donate button on our website  https://invernesscountycares.com

When using E-transfer, please include your mailing address for CRA tax receipts and a thank you message.   E-transfer address:  invernesscountycares@gmail.com

or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, 5414 Route 19, Judique, NS, Canada, B0E1P0. Taxation receipts provided for USA and Canada.

Potato Harvest in Judique

This spring 2021 Inverness County Cares (ICC) members gathered in Judique to plant a potato crop in support of their project helping a school for Albinos in Zambia. The garden plot is situated beside a stream on the John and Theresa MacInnis property in Judique. The brook has probably flooded the area over the years, producing a beautiful fertile flood plain. This fall the ICC garden has produced a bumper crop of beautiful pesticide free potatoes which are being sold as a fundraiser for Inverness County Cares.

In May 2021 many varieties of potatoes were planted, blue (all the way through), Caribe (blue skin), Red Pontiacs, Fingerlings, Kenebec, Harvest Gold, Yukon gold, Highland Russets and Dakota Russets.  Some were purchased as seed and some were saved from our harvest last year.

The garden plot measures 90 by 135 feet and 38 rows of potatoes were planted, each row being 90 feet long. Using two TroyBilt tillers, the ground was tilled many times to loosen the soil and break up the earth into finer particles. A plow attachment was used to mound the soil and create hills. The potatoes were planted approximately 10 inches apart with our calculations showing that 20 lbs of potatoes will fill a 100-foot row. After the potatoes were planted the rich soil was easily mounded on top of the potatoes. The rows were spaced to allow for cultivation by tiller. The field was irrigated using the system provided by Marlanda Strawberry Farms (Joannie and Angus MacDonell).

It was a team effort with people rock picking, cutting potatoes, measuring and marking rows, hoeing the rows, raking to cover, providing refreshments and rototilling. The planting process took about three days. Many hands made light work. Six of the 38 rows (100 pounds) will go to Holly’s Helping Hands Food Bank.

The crop grew well this summer and produced large healthy plants. Part of the field was dug September 25th, with John J MacDonald and Leon Livingstone doing the honors with the tractor and plow as well as 12 pickers. The potatoes (approximately 2600 lbs) were bagged after they had an opportunity to dry out.

Friday, October 1, the potato harvest was celebrated and completed with ‘The Great Judique Potato Lift’, an outdoor picnic organized by Bill Murphy with funding from the Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage. There was music, a BBQ and of course the Potato Lift. The remaining rows were dug using Lauchie Rankin’s tractor and a hand guided single furrow plow provided by Leon Livingstone. This lifted and turned over the potatoes for easy picking by approximately 30 volunteers of all ages, who got down and dirty in that fine earth. Approximately 1100 hundred additional pounds of potatoes were uncovered (Friday) from the 7 (90 foot) rows. These potatoes, mainly Russets were very large (up to 8 inches long) and oblong shaped, making peeling very easy. 

Many thanks to the numerous people who came to buy potatoes on Friday and those who bought potatoes in the following days. Your support will help provide life essentials and an education for the blind and albino children at the schools in Zambia. Thank you to everyone who worked countless hours to make sure the crop was successful.

Our two Inverness County Cares refundable can and bottle collection trailers in Mabou and Port Hood, are all sporting new signs designed by Camille Chapman and created by Maple Signs of Port Hawkesbury. We want to express out thanks to Ted Van Zutphen, Stanley Beaton and Raymond DeBont for looking after the collection trailers and to our supporters who donate their cans and bottles to support our project in Zambia and the Port Hood food bank. 

 

Inverness County Cares always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate, can use the donate button on our website  https://invernesscountycares.com

When using E-transfer, please include your mailing address for CRA tax receipts and a thank you.   E-transfer address:  invernesscountycares@gmail.com

or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares Box 99, Judique, NS, Canada, B0E1P0. Taxation receipts provided for USA and Canada.

Success Starts with one Step

By Paul Kachela

I am a former student at St Mary’s Special School and an Albino person, identified as visually impaired.

Fear is a killer of self-esteem. I have lived in the world of fear for so many years, I thought this is how life is and I never thought I could conquer it. I was afraid of doing things at home, because most people in my family and my village didn’t accept me. My fear was constant because I didn’t know what people were thinking of me. At my home, they never allowed me to do any work or even to share the bedding with my age mates. My father and his family never acknowledged me from the beginning. My dear mother was beaten by my father until she accepted divorce and later died of depression. I then started living with my mother’s youngest sister Dorothy, until Mr. Peter Nsama and Mrs. Agnes Chama Nsama helped me to start school.

God used these people to find a better life for me. They had a child who was physically handicapped, with lower limbs which were non-functional. At that time, he was in grade three at a school for the physically handicapped.

The Nsama family helped me start school by explaining to my parents the importance of education. My parents had been very opposed to providing me with an education until the Nsama family insisted I attend school. At that time, I had bad smell about me because of painful sores all over my body, due to poor hygiene. It was Mr. Peter who came to my rescue by providing sunscreen and antibiotics. I was cured fully by the time I went to school.

I started my primary Education at St Mary’s School in 2000. The Nsama family never minded my affliction and I was taken and introduced to the head teacher. To my immense surprise, Mr. Peter introduced me as a relative and before leaving he emphasised that I be taught Braille.

I had no self-confidence before I stepped on the grounds of St Mary’s School. It was there I came to realize my potential. My inner fear was really a killer to my personal innovation and creativity. I started building my confidence slowly, as I was praised by my friends and teachers.

In the beginning I was among the slow learners and my late teacher Maureen, tried her very best to make sure that I knew how to read and write. It was a struggle and I remained for two years in the same grade. I was determined to catch up.

I immediately joined a Braille Club and during our first meetings, the teacher introduced us to various pieces of equipment used to produce a book. I was immediately fascinated by the process. 

My success began step by step. I started helping my teacher who was in charge of the special unit. My hand writing was so poor he encouraged me to practice writing as much as possible. I created a plan and identified two sighted students who were reluctant to write subject notes. I started writing for them with my secret goal to improve my hand writing. They liked me so much, I achieved what I wanted and gained their friendship.

My desire of helping others, had started a long time ago at my primary school where I was available to teach others how to write and read Braille. When I joined Mwense secondary School, we the albino and blind students, faced a lot of difficulties since our class exercises were not always transcribed into Braille.

Our teachers at the special unit were sighted and not very fast in transcribing into Braille. To make matters worse, our teachers were teaching other classes for the sighted and in most cases Braille work was marked last. This bothered me and I began to transcribe work from Braille to written work, so the work of the blind and sighted students were marked at the same time. What a great joy! I was able to narrow the gap between the blind and sighted students.

Even, today as a college student, in my second year, I still perform the same works for my blind students at the college and during my holidays. I spend some days at St Mary’s and transcribe for two blind teachers as they are very slow in writing and reading of Braille since they lost their sight at a later age, I help them with joy.

I completed my secondary education and went to a teacher training college in 2020 and pursued a course in English and Braille writing. Presently I am in my second year and in the month of April to June, I was at St Mary’s Special School for my teaching experience. There, I enjoyed my teaching and I worked with Mr. Joseph in the transcription department.

He trained me to use the thermoforming machine, a photocopying device for the blind where a plastic paper called Brailon is used. When braille work is written, it needs to be thermoformed to produce books or notes. I was also able to reproduce diagrams, for the blind students to increase their understanding.

My heart swells when I see the happiness my work brings to the visually impaired and blind students. The literature I provide expands their understanding of their studies and helps them learn about the world beyond our villages.

I also write literature books for the lower grades in our local language. I am usually identified as a “Moving Library”, because if one is in need of some reading materials, in no time that materials will be given. I feel proud to be called that. Just recently, I started learning how to repair a Perkins braille machine, which is in the form of the manual typewriter. My ability to help others makes me confident and I feel very proud of myself, as an Albino who is able to contribute in a small way to assist my visually impaired community. Surely, every success starts with a Step.

Inverness County Cares always welcomes new members. Those who wish to donate, can use the donate button on our website     https://invernesscountycares.com

When using E-transfer, please include your mailing address for CRA tax receipts and a thank you.   E-transfer address:  invernesscountycares@gmail.com

or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares Box 99, Judique, NS, Canada, B0E1P0. Taxation receipts provided for USA and Canada.

The Power of Music

By: Brian Musonda

I am Brian Musonda born with little sight and my sight diminishes every year. It took time for my family members to accept that one day I would be totally blind. I have accepted it myself. What did I do! I started working on my SELF CONFIDENCE.

I am a former student of St Mary’s Special School in Kawambwa. I started school in 2006 when I was ten years old and attended up to 2012.

During this period of my stay at St Mary’s, l learned a lot of things inside and outside class. One outstanding benefit was learning to play a guitar. The school has a band club where I joined and maximised my time and interest until I became a good guitar player and a good singer. In the evenings I would gather small pupils and would sing for and with them. That was the time I learned I could differentiate the voices. I was then singing bass. At that time, it came into my mind that I should know how to sing the four main voices and I managed with the help of my teachers. When I was in grade five I was introduced to the drums and the keyboard and as I played these instruments my interest grew. I became the band-leader, this responsibility boosted my confidence and within my heart I started feeling good. During Sunday mass, instruments were played and during this time I felt God’s presence especially when I receive comments like, “Brian and your team plays the instruments so well, you helped me to pray.” I can tell you my inner self was filled with joy.

In 2013 I qualified for grade ten and I joined another school called Mwense Secondary School in another district. This school had no musical instruments, so I collected empty plastic containers and metal tins and I made instruments. Every evening in my hostel, I would play and my friends would dance. It was a good entertainment and I was nicknamed “Gatherer”.  Even today I am identified by the same nickname and I have accepted this positively as it is helping me to develop my self-confidence. (I am soon going to compose a song about my nickname). Playing these instruments sustained my school life and it provided me some with financial help for my school upkeep. This small amount of money helped me buy manilla papers for my class exercises. I am happy to say that I managed to buy my own Braille slate which I am still using today.

I completed my secondary education, and joined the teacher training college in the central province. There I pursued a diploma in primary education and the college had musical instruments for me to use. I enjoyed my learning, and we joined hands with a musical mentor. We formed a college band group and became popular. We performed at many occasions, youth day, Independence-day and any national festival. My nickname now had a great meaning.

I completed my studies in 2020 and I am waiting for the examination results and graduation day.

I am again back at my first school, St Mary’s Special School in Kawambwa. I am teaching classes and teaching music. May I take this opportunity to acknowledge the effort made by Betty Jane, John and Charlotte, of Inverness County Cares when they visited our School. They gave us musical instruments (keyboard, guitars, violins, etc.) Betty Jane not only gave us instruments, but taught me how to play and how to write musical notes. My time with Betty Jane was very valuable for she added to my skills. What a blessing!

This time my goal is to develop my talent and the talents of my fellow blind persons. When I am teaching, I don’t segregate, l teach both boys and girls regardless of their visual acuity. I aim to fulfill our school motto “Equal Opportunities with the Sighted World” and “Disability is not inability”.

In conclusion, music helps me to express, my feelings, emotions and to deliver the message to the community. Self-confidence is key. May our supporters be showered by the grace of God to continue helping the disabled and the vulnerable.

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 northern Zambia where they educate and care for albino, blind, visually impaired and other vulnerable students. Inverness County Cares always welcomes new members. Those who wish to donate, can use the donate button on our website     https://invernesscountycares.com   When using E-transfer, please include your mailing address for CRA tax receipts and a thank you.   E-transfer address:  invernesscountycares@gmail.com  or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares Box 99, Judique, NS, Canada, B0E1P0. Taxation receipts provided for USA and Canada.

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