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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.

 

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.

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

 

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