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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.

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.

 

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.

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.

January: Elizabeth, an Albino Child Tells her Story

Elizabeth an Albino Child, Tells her Story

By: Elizabeth Mulenga, Sr Agnes Bwalya and Mr. Telesphore 

 Albinism is a hereditary condition, resulting in the absence of melanin pigment causing an individual being born with the white skin, light hair and vision problems. There are two types of albinism. Oculocutaneous albinism involves the eyes, hair and skin and Ocular albinism which is less common involving only the eyes, while skin and hair may appear similar or slightly lighter than that of the other family members.

I am Elizabeth born from two parents with very light skin, (Ocular Albinism). We are seven in the family, 5 are black but with light skin and 2 (*John and myself) are Oculocutaneous, with very light skin and hair. My eyes are not stable the eyeballs move and sometimes even my head shakes involuntarily.

My family surname is Mulenga but now my nickname is my surname…”Manda”, in English it means grave, meaning my brother *John and I are already dead, in other words we are not human beings. People in society continued calling us this, at first secretly but as days went by, it became a famous surname.

When I was born my parents were separated but my father could visit my mother, however when my youngest brother was born, my father ran away and he told my mother that,” I will go now forever”. My mother was disturbed and she dumped us. My widowed grandmother from my father’s side came to our rescue, she took us and we stayed with her for some years, where the care was not up to date. When I was ten years old my grandmother died and we went back to our mother who couldn’t manage because she was sickly and she died when I was 13yrs old. I started staying with my aunty to my mother’s side.

People in the village where we were living didn’t accept us and we were considered as “Ghosts”, because only “Ghosts” are found in the grave. When we were passing, especially a pregnant woman she would spit saliva on her chest “pupuu”, which they believed prevented them from having an albino child, even elderly women and young girls did the same.

As an albino we can’t share plates with others, I should eat alone and my plate should not be mixed with other plates. My bedding (an old coat of my grandmother) was kept outside the house and it was a bad experience with no shelter in the rainy season. I was denied family socialization and no one will touch any object that I touched or eat the food or drink I have prepared, because they believed Albinism is contagious.

I will never forget this day: I went to the river to draw water, and as I was coming back a middle-aged woman called me and said “Elizabeth from today onwards do not pass here or touch my children because when you pass here, they dream of you and hallucinate at night”, I didn’t say anything, I cried the whole night, and said to my God, “God why create me as a Ghost! Why?” That was how I vowed not to visit any home in the village, I was living in isolation, I felt lonely, unloved, useless and unworthy to live.

When I entered the classroom in our village, the female teacher never accepted me, she never talked to me or give me any work. That time I had sores on my body and one day I heard her telling others that, she cannot stand the situation it’s better she teaches other classes, her negativity made me more passive and I decided to stop school.

One day the light shone, I was called by an old lady in the village and she asked me to help her wash plates, at the river side. She held me by the hand and whispered in my ears “Elizabeth, one day your problems will flow away like the waters in the river and they will never come back again. Look at this water as it flows it will never turn back and flow in a different direction, this is how life is, once you understand life, you will not be the same and the solution is education. This old woman made me feel loved, comforted, accepted and fully human.

A few days later, she decided to take me to St. Mary’s Special School (Sponsored by Chalice.ca) with the help of St Vincent de Paul Movement. When I reached school, I saw my friends wearing shoes, sleeping on beds, eating while sitting on a bench/chair, within myself I couldn’t believe it.

I was happy, in fact more than happy, especially when I saw other Albino children. To be sincere it is St. Mary’s Special School that introduced me to the wearing of shoes and sandals, I really felt uncomfortable, since eating while sitting on the chair was something I never thought of and many other traits that makes a human being feel human and comfortable.

Today I am so positive about my life, I am in grade 9 and just finished writing my junior secondary final examination. I promise the world that I will pass. * John has also found peace at the St Mary’s school and is in grade 3. I remain a good dancer, I live healthy with no sores on my body, I wear decent clothes, I have Braille and Braillo paper for my education.

An albino child is fully human, fully alive, we send thanks to you so many people.


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

Please include mailing address for CRA tax receipts and thank you, when using E-transfer.   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.

 

Christmas at the Kawambwa schools

Kawambwa site sends  Christmas and New year greetings to the Inverness County Cares team, donors, sponsors, and volunteers. May the New Born Christ give you all the graces you need in your lives. We love you all. Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Sr Agnes and Kawambwa team.


THE HIDDEN JOY OF CHRISTMAS. 

By: Sr Agnes Bwalya, Kawambwa, Zambia

Christmas is a season that everyone waits for and is the Hidden Joy of Christmas that we long for!

Christmas is celebrated with a lot of symbols and its celebration starts with a lot of preparations.  In the village and at every home, parents start by preparing what to eat and what their children will wear. The children, they think of what they will receive from their parents and what they will give to others. Village chickens, goats, cow, dried fish, local beer and local drinks are set aside just for Christmas. Everyone thinks of what will be shared with others.

The asking of a gift is done in a symbolic way, very early in the morning, one will move with branches and visit a home, knock and shout “Christmas” and leave a branch at the door. The owner of the house comes out, gives the one who brought the branch anything she/he has. If one doesn’t have any food to give, he/she will come out with a cup of water, the other person receives it and drinks, and the games continue.

On the very day of Christmas, families, friends will visit and eat together during the family meal. It is the responsibility of an elderly person to explain to others about the importance of sharing. Food is served and visiting of grandparents is commonly done. The old grandparent will prepare something for whoever visits them, if they do not have anything to give at the end of their visit, they will bless their children by touching their forehead and saying, “Be disciplined and grow old as I am.” It is now that grand children get wrappers and bracelets from their grandmothers, who has been receiving but not wearing. Grandparents feel happy for the visits by young ones. During the visit what is avoided, is to recall any conflict that occurred before, to individuals or among family members. Each one makes sure that joy of Christmas is maintained. It is very common that a dress, shirt, wrapper, shoes, is kept in a suitcase for so many months, just waiting to be put on at Christmas. It is a long preparation which calls for patience as well.

In some areas like Kawambwa and in other parts of Zambia there is a flower which is named ‘Christmas flower’ because it grows and blossoms during the early rains. This is a precious flower that young adults look for and gives to their loved ones as an engagement for marriage. It is commonly done in our village during Christmas and New Year time. When a young girl is given a Christmas flower by a young boy, the girl takes it to her grandparents or aunties. It is self-explanatory that the boy wants to marry their daughter.

The celebration of the New Year starts at Christmas, parents bless their children by word of mouth and by exchange of gifts. The size of the gift does not matter, what matters is the exchange and the eating of food together.

At our two schools, the traditional way of celebrating Christmas and New Year is practiced, and it is a long preparation for everyone. On the last day of the term, each child has to look for something good to do to the other child, or to a friend. Exchanging of branches is done (it must be a branch from a tree that gives us food; such as from a mango tree or a guava tree.) It means a sign of taking care of my friend, giving him/her fruit that can sustain one’s life. Each person finds time to help a friend in some way by washing clothes, sweeping, helping with lessons, but without someone asking for help. Members of staff teach students the importance of sharing. Sometimes elder children on behalf of small children go out to help old parents in the nearby village, visiting the hospital and other charitable works. In the evening they come together for social recreation, sharing of water is commonly done and everyone longs for this time. Small actions are performed to one another silently the main aim of doing these actions is to tell another person that I can help with my free will.

At church, the traditional way of making a kraal (a traditional African village of huts, typically enclosed by a fence) is done as we do at home. Banana leaves and plants surrounds the kraal and model of Jesus, Joseph and Mary and the stars are inserted. It is a sacred and holy place for us, because it reminds us of the place where Jesus was born. During Mass a basket of assorted fruits and seeds covered by branches is offered. It is a good sign of sharing the togetherness and oneness as we worship, EMMANUEL meaning GOD IS WITH US AND AMONG US FULL OF LIFE.


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

e-transfer to 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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