Partners in Development

Tag: blind

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.

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.

October 2020, Geshom Mwansa’s Story

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

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

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

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

May God bless you all.  Geshom Mwansa.

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

 

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

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