Partners in Development

Author: Inverness County Cares Page 1 of 7

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.

New Bus for St Mary School

By Wyclef Kaunda, July 2021

Our struggle was real before the coming of the newly acquired bus transport. The school used to hire local transporters to drive pupils to school and back to their home villages. Many were the times when the school was disappointed by the local transporters who were not coming for the assigned task. I remember one time when I was a pupil at St. Mary’s Special School, we closed school and it was the time to be taken to our various destinations. As pupils we got up early around 4 AM to wait for the bus to transport us.  We waited and waited until 9 AM that’s when the bus came to pick us up.  It was really a frustrating experience for pupils who are so excited to go to our homes, only to be delayed by the transporter. Many are the times the local transport hired would breakdown along the way before reaching the destination. It was always a worry for the school authorities to make sure that learners reached their destination safely and on time.

As time went by and after long pleading with the government of the Republic of Zambia to help the school with the transport system, Chalice (an aid organization based in Bedford, Nova Scotia, Canada) stepped in and helped the school with the purchase of a small minibus which came as a relief to the school. Transportation remained a challenge despite the coming in of the small minibus because the seating capacity was limited to 15 pupils.  This made it necessary to make multiple trips when picking up students at their homes and on the trip back to school. The gravel roads in areas where the pupils come from, are not standard and the small minibus would fail to reach those areas because of its low undercarriage. Sr Bwalya continued to petition Chalice to help the school solve our transportation problems. In May 2021 Chalice and their partners Inverness County Cares, answered her plea and helped the school by purchasing the new Mitsubishi Rosa bus with 28 seater capacity. This larger load size enabled more children to be transported per trip reducing the number of trips needed.

I was the first person to behold the newly purchased bus and what my eyes saw was magical. I thought I was dreaming! I tried to pinch myself to see if I was dreaming, but nah it was reality or I can say is that it was a dream come true. I was more than happy and I captured the pictures and sent them to Sr. Bwalya telling her how delighted I was. I reached the bus and inquired on how it all come to pass that the school had a stable and reliable transport. They told me Chalice and Inverness County Cares had provided the bus.

When our Bishop, entered the school grounds driving the new bus, the entire school community come to a standstill unable to believe our good fortune.  There were many screams of joy as the pupils jumped up and down in gladness and some ended up crying tears of joy. This moment was of great jubilation and appreciation by both the members of staff, the pupil’s populace and the community at large. The Bishop sounded the horn all the way, as he drove the bus into our school compound. He was met by cheers, songs, tears and lively festive dancing. Pupils were taken on a celebratory first drive on the bus and were driven around the town waving excitedly with beaming smiles. Our whole community celebrated with enthusiastic singing and dancing to express our joy and happiness.

We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to Chalice and Inverness County Cares for the help given to the school. Surely God as seen your works and will continue blessing you for helping the most vulnerable in societies. The delivery of the new school bus has helped the school in many ways. Just recently the government of the republic of Zambia closed schools due to the increase of Covid-19. It came at the end of our term and pupils were transported to their homes in style with the new bus, feeling like VIPs. Thanks very much to our supporters in Canada, we truly appreciate the amazing gift of the bus. Thank you also for all the help given to our school. God will continue blessing you and adding more years to your lives. Once again thank you.

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.

Blind Student Gains Mobility

By: James Mupito and Sr Agnes Bwalya

I am 13 years old and in Grade one at St Mary’s Special School in Kawambwa. There are six children in my family, two children are blind and my grandma and grandpa are both totally blind, however we are not albino. I am from the remotest area in Zambia where education is a luxury not all can obtain. Our roads are very basic and only government vehicles occasionally visit this area. In my village, people failed to accept me, because they think blindness is a curse, and they think I may bring bad luck on their families. I was not accepted and felt very lonely.

There were many limitations in what I could do and I had no option but to stay at home doing nothing. My posture was poor from lack of exercise and in order to move a distance, someone has to look for a stick and I would hold the far end and my friend would guide me to my destination. I did not pay much attention to my movements, I just followed where the stick took me.   Sometimes I would fall and hurt myself but I desperately wanted to move and visit other places and people in the village.  As I navigated our community, people watched me and shouted loudly to warn me when I was in danger of falling or bumping into an obstacle. Their yelling created fear in me, which caused me to startle, even if that sound has nothing to do with me. This fear destroyed my confidence and I limited my excursions beyond my home. 

In my isolation I realized how fear was limiting my independence and self-confidence.  One day I was home alone, and I thought, “Today, I must visit the nearby school by myself”. There was a small boy drawing water from our well and he gave me directions.  Slowly but surely and expecting that I would fall, I navigated my way to the school and returned home. This was the beginning of my liberation and I started building a new world for myself. I learned that, people are very helpful, some could hold me by the hand while others taught me by talking to me. My cousin and friend started teaching me how to count numbers, the alphabet and I developed an interest in listening to music. This gave me a thirst for learning and I started asking about school …but no one had an answer.

One day, as I was at the roadside, a man spoke to me. He asked me my name and said, “I am a teacher of the blind!”  He explained the need for education and how I could become a teacher like him. I excitedly said yes. Immediately we went to the village headman, where my new friend introduced himself and left his contact information. That was in 2018. In 2019, January, he came back and we walked hand in hand with the village headman and talked nicely to my parents concerning my attendance at St Mary’s Special School in Kawambwa. They agreed on the condition that, he would be fully responsible for me. At that moment a light started shinning in the darkness and I was very happy.

After a long journey we reached St Mary’s School and we were welcomed warmly. At first it was difficult as I could not navigate easily and had not learned to care for myself very well. I had to learn how to eat, wash myself and walk with confidence. The cooks helped me, especially Mum Ivy, who is a patient woman and she was very kind to me.

When I entered class, it was my first time as a student. That first day I didn’t like it, but my teacher was patient with me. Stephen one of my classmates (who became my friend), encouraged me in all areas by saying, “James, soon you’ll be independent”, but I found it hard to believe. I lived at the school and in the evenings, the house parents or caregivers, worked with me on orientation.

One day, I realized, “Here at St. Mary’s, everyone loves me”. My teacher Rabecca, sings a song in our local language every morning that inspires me. “God Loves little children”, then she whispers, “God Loves you”, to each pupil. Teacher Rabecca become my model, she also told me “Your inner self is ever strong” This became my inspiration when everything became too much for me. This teacher of mine is lovely. Her good treatment of me, is the source of my inner strength.

 Initially my fingers were soft and not very sensitive. My teacher gave me a bucket of sand and asked me to rub the sand in my hands. I did this two times every day for three months to increase sensitivity when learning Braille. I practiced ‘trailing’, in order to differentiate the smoothness and roughness and help to locate direction when moving without a white cane. I did finger manipulation exercises for flexibility and physical fitness exercises for strength and balance. These exercises drove out fear, and I started feeling good about myself. The wonderful white cane helped me walk straight, improved my posture and built confidence. Education is key to overcome my limitations, both for myself and the people of the villages.

St Mary’s School gave me many gifts, especially the love of my care givers especially from Mum Ivy who is so dear to me. The school is a friendly environment, where everyone is your friend and I felt accepted, loved and appreciated. I give thanks to everyone who made my new life possible. 

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.

 

Stop the Stigma: An Albino’s Story

By Wyclef Raphael Kaunda

In 1995 Wyclef Raphael Kaunda was born in Mansa, 950 km north of the Zambian capital city of Lusaka, the third child in a family of four.  He was born with an absence of melanin in his skin, caused by Albinism, a condition which caused his vision to be severely impaired. In 2002 when he was seven, tragedy struck when both his parents were killed in a car accident, leaving their four children orphans. All properties and belongings of the family including their home, were confiscated by people who took advantage of the vulnerable situation of the children. This left the children without a home or guardians.

Wyclef and his siblings became beggars and were rejected by their community. Their widowed elderly grandmother took the children to live with her, despite her own dire poverty. Life was very difficult and often they would go to sleep with an empty stomach and no blankets. Their clothing was tattered but despite all these hardships their grandmother managed to send them to school where Wyclef proved to be a bright, hard-working child.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith Botha came to his rescue when they found him on the streets asking for help to buy books to support his education. They were moved by his situation and especially by his love of learning. They decided to adopt him and his siblings (and grandmother) and pay for their education. In the year 2005, at the age of 10, Wyclef started attending St. Mary’s Special School in Kawambwa, which is run by the Sisters of the Child Jesus. He studied there from 2005 to 2010 and gained many valuable life skills. St. Mary’s played an important role in shaping his future and he remains forever indebted to his guardians and school staff, especially Sr Agnes Bwalya.

Wyclef worked extra hard academically knowing that the only equalizer in life was education. He excelled in Junior High and the government of Zambia recognized him as the best performing pupil in Grade 9 National Examinations. Wyclef took part in many extracurricular activities during his secondary school years; debating, quiz, jets (junior engineering and technicians’ scientist), poetry and drama which gave him a broader understanding of the world. He continued on to perform exceptionally well into Grade 12 levels. He is now a graduate of Mansa College of Education and is currently tutoring students to earn money for his grandmother’s medical bills. Wyclef has many ambitions and a love of learning. He is interested in medicine, creating software and working on website design.

He is grateful for his good fortune and plans to be the voice of the voiceless in society. The help given to him by the Botha family has greatly changed his life and inspired him to help others. He values the support of his best friend Nathan Botha who has been there for him through thick and thin and Sr Agnes Bwalya at the Kawambwa School who is so very proud of all he has accomplished.

Wyclef’s albinism has made his life extremely difficult. Where ever he went he was called terrible names and people, would boo him and spit on him. Living with albinism is quite a challenge in Africa for people believe the superstitions that Albinos are spirits of the living dead and Albinism can be caught through close contact. Many of his friends have been murdered due to the promotion of the myth that Albino body parts and blood are a good luck charm capable of generating great wealth.

In the city where superstitious beliefs concerning Albinos are less, Wyclef feels somewhat safer, especially when he is out with his most trusted friends, but every night he lives in fear of attack. When in his home village the fear is magnified because a lot of people in that area living with Albinism have already been killed, (to supply the body parts black market). Although he never feels totally safe, he is most secure when in his own home with people he trusts most. 

My voice must be heard by Wyclef Raphael Kaunda

I felt anxious last year when we were being poached like wild animals and I wrote the words below:

Each and every moment I walk in fear because I do not know who will take away my life.

It is not like I am a fugitive No! But because I am an albino,

Some do not even want to seat next to me,

Eating with me is like they are feeding on vomit,

They do not want to rub shoulders with me, as if a am a curse from God,

But listen to me even as I speak with tears in my eyes,

My tears shall no longer be in a bottle, I am spitting out the bitter truth.

Let the silence be broken now, we will no longer be silent like a rock cost hit by the waves.

Segregation is bad; we are humans like you are

God created man in his own image and likeness, of which we all know.

Why kill albinos for rituals, why discriminate and laugh at us?

We say we are a Christian nation and our deeds to people living with albinism are destroying the Christian name….

Love us, care for us and hear our cry.

To all the parents out there, remember that having an albino child isn’t a curse but a full blessing from God, and to all those who kill albino children please change for better, because God is not a God of discrimination but a God of love to everyone….

Blessed are those that are close to people living with albinism. Remember we are not ghosts, but normal people just like you.

My fellows are living in fear because of knowing not about their safety.

The government seems to be silent or pays a deaf ear over the same issue and the cry of innocent albinos who have been brutally slaughtered because of being albino.

My voice must be heard we have taken it upon ourselves to fight because the system seems to be busy with its work of governing, forgetting albinos

Clergy men are busy preaching about prosperity, forgetting preaching on love and care for one another

Wyclef Raphael Kaunda

 

Zambian Visit 2020

In January-February 2020 (pre Covid) three Inverness County Cares members visited the site of the Kawambwa schools in Kawambwa and Mporokosa, Zambia. John MacInnis, Charlotte Rankin and Betty Jane Cameron personally paid for all their expenses and spent approximately a month working and living in the Kawambwa compound. Their trip provided Inverness County Cares (ICC) with a wealth of information and has promoted much interest, understanding and goodwill toward the Kawambwa project. This series of photographs and commentary will bring an understanding as to why we feel so passionate about the well being of these children. 

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The Life Story of Blessings

 

Blessings is a nine-year-old boy, who, although living with Albinism, is full of life and has the potential to do great things. At the age of three, his parents separated, and Blessings’ mother moved away, leaving him with his father.  At his young age, he realized that his home is not a happy one mainly because two of the children live with Albinism. Blessings says, “I can tell that the face of my father is ever sad I wonder if my father ever smiles and my mother stays in another village with my stepfather.” Blessings older brother, Albert, was taken away when he was young and did not know until later, that his parents had another boy with albinism.

Blessings has been shunned by his village and his interactions with anyone outside of his family has been restricted. Sometimes he would be permitted to go to a neighbouring house to play with young friends. They enjoyed traditional dances and games. One of these friends was, Jane, the same age as Blessings, who was in grade one at that time. She taught him the alphabet and some songs and some of the elders in the community noticed his potential since was able to quickly remember the alphabet, songs and stories.

At this time, he lived with his father and step mother, where according to Blessings, “No age was considered when it comes to work”.  Blessings despite his young age and small stature, was expected to do the work of a much older person and was continually overworked and exhausted. His work schedule, “which was beyond my power” fetching water with a big bucket, weeding and slashing brush, left him so fatigued, he was unable to attend school or even study on his own.

As a child living with Albinism, working in the hot sun is life threatening. Blessings tells us “Honest, I really suffered when drawing water from the only borehole we have in the village. It is in an open space where sunlight shines directly on us as we wait our turn”. For anyone with albinism, the direct rays of the hot sun can lead to skin cancer lesions because of the lack of melanin on their skin. Blessings did not have access to sunscreen or protective clothing to shield him from the sun every day. The only way he could cope was to, “Cover my head with a piece of cloth or my old shirt”.  From photos of Blessings, we can see he is already developing lesions in areas exposed to the sun.

According to Blessings, “One day a miracle happened in our home. A teacher gave homework to my step brother who was in grade two. He could not get the concept, but I got it and everyone was surprised”. His family began to realize his potential, and this coincided with the visit from

Mr. Simeo, who is pursuing his studies in education, with a focus on children with disabilities.

Mr.  Simeo took a special interest in Blessings for he saw the potential in this overworked little boy.  According to Blessings, his friend said, “From today I will accompany you in everything,” and again he lifted me and laughed. Inside my heart I was very happy because I wanted to see a man in the range of my father’s age with a smile on his face.”

From then on, he visited Blessings’ family and helped him in the fetching of water and other strenuous work.  Blessings’ parents came to love his friend so much that he become part of the family. Due to this influence, his parents permitted Blessings to go to school with is friend, where he started teaching him simple mathematics. Mr. Simeo talked to Blessings’ father about taking him to a special school that could really enrich Blessings’ life and his father permitted Blessings to go to St Mary’s Special School in Kawambwa, which is 178 kms away from their home. There he found so much comfort with his loving and caring friends, teachers and care givers, some of whom also live with albinism. He started learning Braille was happy to study and work toward his educational goals.

His teacher, Madam Winifridah introduced him to computers which has ignited his curiosity toward technology and mechanical operations. His potential has been recognized and at this time, he can read, write, recite poems and dance. He is a dependable student who realizes the importance of education as a path toward his ambitions.

There are many more children in a similar situation as Blessings, but they are hidden away in villages, shunned by their people because of fear and superstition. St. Mary’s and St Odilia schools, the two schools of the Kawambwa Project, provide a haven for these children, where they can learn to cope with their disabilities and feel safe, valued and protected.

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.

March 2021, Transportation

TRANSPORTATION IS A GREAT CHALLENGE AT ST. MARY’S SPECIAL SCHOOL – KAWAMBWA.

St. Mary’s Special school serves children between the age of 5 to 25 years who come from diverse parts of Zambia. The school caters to children with multiple disabilities; blind and visually impaired, deaf, special needs and physically disabled. The present teaching staff also includes teachers with visual impairments; six totally blind, eight partially sighted and two teachers with albinism.

Mr. Chisembe Mwansa, one of the blind teachers, tells us how the school community must strive to accommodate staff and students with varying levels of visual impairment as well as physical and intellectual needs. The school must maintain and upgrade the infrastructure of the school grounds to protect the staff and students from the ever-present threat of kidnapping and abduction. This security extends beyond the walls of the school as the children must be protected on their long journeys to and from the school to their homes in remote villages, towns, and cities.

  “I’m a blind teacher and have lived in this area for many years. I have been teaching at St. Mary’s school for 22 years.” says Mr. Mwansa. “My major contribution to the school is to be the chairperson of transport. At present we use a twelve-seater bus with two main purposes; class trips to help visually impaired children become familiar with their environments and to bring students to and from school.”

The educational tours and class trips serve to help the children build a foundation on how they will navigate their environment when they leave the safe confines of the enclosed school grounds. Many of the students live in remote locations, as much as 4-5 hours away from the school in Kawambwa. Always keeping safety from abduction as a priority, the bus must have a minimum of three adults on board when traveling to gather students. The twelve-seater bus becomes very cramped with the students and their luggage as they live at the school and go home only on holidays. This means making four to five trips to transport all the children, increasing gas consumption, and exposing the students to the dangers of being abducted. 

“I have personally travelled with different drivers and I have experienced all a person can experience in this rural part of Zambia. Our roads are not tarred and most of the commodities and children are found in places where roads are very bad, full of potholes and water pools. The van often gets stuck in the mud and pushing needs to be done” says Mr. Mwansa. Requiring the adults and children to push the small van to free it from the mud puts them at risk of getting injured. But when the van is too deep in the mud, they must stay there for many hours, sometimes sleeping in the van overnight and trying to free the van in the morning. This happens not only in the rainy season, but also in the dry season as most areas are sandy.

On occasions where there are children with albinism in the van, many villagers will gather around; not to help, but rather intimidate and mock the children. These long journeys are demanding and stressful for the children, especially for the smaller, more vulnerable ones.

The struggles at St. Mary’s Special school are unquestionable. “Words cannot really explain the real situation, but people’s hearts grasp it in a special way that cannot be expressed in words” says Mr. Mwansa. “My blindness tells me that mobility and orientation are the only way that can bring the world closer to a blind person.’

Note: Inverness County Cares has been supporting the needs of St. Mary’s Special School for the past two years in partnership with Chalice (Canada). Chalice has just approved a request for funding from Kawambwa to purchase a large bus to transport students safely.  Inverness County Cares will be assisting in raising funds for this purpose.

 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 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.

Inverness County Cares Gives Thanks

Inverness County Cares (ICC) is a registered charity, established in 2012 and based in Inverness County, NS, Canada. ICC was created by a group of local people who wanted to bring a better life to those in desperate need, with a focus on children in developing countries. Our first project was working with a school for street children, in Nairobi, Kenya for six years. The next project was the development of a water collection system for Ngeza village in Uganda. The current project is the Kawambwa project in Zambia, two schools which cater to albino, blind and visually impaired children as well as those with other physical and intellectual disabilities.

ICC members meet monthly and we work toward providing funds for our projects. Covid 19 restrictions have impacted our usual methods of fundraising but we are still encouraged by the generosity of our supporters. Our most successful project involves collection of refundable beverage containers. Two box trailers are available for people to drop off these items. One location is in Mabou at the Freshmart parking lot and the other is located at the corner in Port Hood at 209 Main Street (Ted and Hermina Van Zutphen’s lane). We thank the many generous people who drop off their containers and also extend our gratitude to Ted Van Zutphen, Stanley Beaton and Raymond DeBont for managing the containers and taking them to the depot to be counted.  We thank Wayne and Karen Beaton and Ted and Hermina Van Zutphen for providing the space to park the collection vehicles. Each Christmas season ICC donates the December proceeds from our two collection sites to the local food bank to serve those in need in our local area.

This past summer, ICC members, John and Theresa MacInnis, and Bill Murphy planted a large field with assorted varieties of potatoes. Good weather, fertile soil, lots of hoeing and irrigation equipment from Marlanda Strawberry Fields (Joanie and Angus MacDonell) resulted in a beautiful bumper crop of diverse species of potatoes.  In October ICC members gathered to harvest the bountiful crop and in one weekend they were sold at a substantial profit, all of which went to benefit the vulnerable students at the two Zambian schools.

Each Christmas season ICC sends out an appeal letter to ask assistance for our project. This Christmas season our supporters responded very generously and we thank them so much. Our local business community and faith-based organizations have also provided tremendous support, which we greatly appreciate.

ICC works in partnership with Chalice.ca. This is a very beneficial relationship as Chalice provides ICC with accounting services, CRA income tax receipts and very importantly supplies auditing and onsite supervision of our projects. We consider ourselves very fortunate to have access to the guidance and support provided by Chalice personnel at their Halifax head office and their field staff in East Africa.

We also want to give very sincere thanks to our own membership of ICC, who meet at least once a month and spend much more additional time and effort on outreach and support of initiatives to bring a better life to the students. We are always available share the Kawambwa story with our community (following safety protocols or by Zoom) and provide first-hand accounts of life at the Kawambwa Schools.

 Inverness County Cares always welcomes new members. 

 Individuals who wish to donate, can use the donate button on our website https://invernesscountycares.com

E-transfer address:  invernesscountycares@gmail.com  Please include mailing address for CRA tax receipts and thank you, when using E-transfer.  

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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