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Tag: Kawambwa

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.


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

e-transfer to

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 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

July 2020- Gardens

The Kawambwa school in Northern Zambia is situated in an area of Africa with distinct wet and dry seasons. During the wet season crops grow abundantly and in the dry season crops are planted and irrigated, producing three crops a year.

Inverness county Cares visitors to the Kawambwa School — Betty Jane Cameron, Charlotte Rankin and John MacInnis — were impressed by the school gardens which cover 5000 square meters of fertile loam soil. These gardens are part of an ambitious sustainability plan. They ensure the school always has ample high-quality food for staff and students. The gardens are also a source of revenue and produce is sold in local markets.

The gardens are tended by staff member Mr Victor Nkandu, school gardener John Mpundu, as well as students, including those who are visually impaired. Despite the fact many have limited vision they maneuver nimbly among the plants as they work in the garden.  Betty Jane remarked, “The children are industrious workers and help cultivating and carrying pails to water the plants when needed”.

The soil is enriched by applications of compost and fertilizers. The cultivation and tilling of the garden are carried out totally by hand without any mechanical tools or livestock involved. People of all ages toil daily at this very strenuous and arduous type of work. Charlotte Rankin noted, “Every morning, a work force of men and women set out carrying their large, heavy grub hoes to work in the fields of maize (very tall white corn). The gardens are enclosed by skillfully woven bamboo poles which keep out human and animal poachers”.

John MacInnis stated, “The wide variety of vegetables grown make for a colourful looking garden as well as allowing for diversity in the students’ daily meals”. The main school garden crops include maize, cassava (tapioca), cabbage, rape, Chinese cabbage, carrots, eggplant, green peppers, pumpkin, peanuts and tomatoes. ‘Greens’ are an important part of the Zambian diet. Young leaves of the pumpkins, rape leaves (part of cabbage family but similar to swiss chard) and sweet potatoes leaves are used in many flavourful recipes.  These vegetables are usually cooked with tomato and onion, and sometimes in a groundnut (peanut) stew. In Nova Scotia our main starch food is potato. Nshima is the staple food of Zambia. It is basically a very thick porridge made from finely ground white corn (maize) meal. It is served in semi-solid form and eaten with the hands. The students also enjoy the bounty from lemon, mango and avocado trees and pineapples are also a special favourite.

In addition to the plant menu options Zambians enjoy a special treat… termites. They are harvested at a particular time of year and roasted crisp… a good source of protein and according to Betty Jane Cameron, John MacInnis and Charlotte Rankin, quite tasty too.

Inverness County Cares (ICC) always welcomes new members. Individuals who wish to donate can use the donate button on our website  or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, Box 99, Judique, NS, B0E1P0. Tax receipts provided.

Groundnut (peanut) field with termite mound in the center background.
Watering one of the school gardens
Nshima corn porridge

March 2020, ICC Report

Three Inverness County Cares (ICC) members and the Chalice ( African team began their journey to two of the Chalice/ICC sponsored schools in Zambia. They departed Wednesday January 15th , 2020 at 5:00 AM and reached the first school on the following Saturday. To reach their initial destination in Lusaka the capital of Zambia they took a total of five flights. On reaching Lusaka they met with the regional African Chalice audit team, then took a small twenty- seater Mahogany Airlines two-hour flight to Mansa and from there took ground transportation for 3.5 hours to Kawambwa. To reach the second school they had to maneuver past herds of goats and crowds of people as they detoured by impassable roads to reach their destination 6.5 hours later. Note: ICC members who visited Zambia, personally covered all their own travel and personal expenses.

John, Charlotte and Betty Jane were warmly welcomed by the students and staff at the Kawambwa site. The 17 staff are a remarkable group of teachers, two are albino, two are totally blind, two are sighted and the rest of the teachers are visually impaired. 

The students range from 4 years old to Grade 9. They are housed in dormitories where they are loved and protected by house parents in each building. The dorms are very basic with few of the amenities expected in our world.  Simple hygiene supplies we take for granted such as water, tooth brushes, toilet paper, soap, footwear and suitable clothing are luxuries.

The primary priority for all students is care and concern for each other, mobility in their environment and a knowledge of Braille.

Although John, Betty Jane and Charlotte noted a sense of a security and happiness in the schools they came to understand that the children and adults are all vulnerable in the wider community and face ongoing challenges. They spoke personally to a teacher who recounted his constant fear of abduction and the lack of safety in in his own home, (outside the school compound) especially at night.

Sr. Agnes, Head of the St Mary’s Special School for the Visually Impaired, Kawambwa, was delighted to receive the instruments purchased with the over $2000 donated by Inverness County friends. The school bought 4 guitars, 2 violins, 1 keyboard, 10 recorders, 1 drum and 2 sets of spoons, plus cases, strings, a tuner and adapters. Children of all ages and about 12 teachers all had the opportunity to learn the basics and 2 music teachers are confident in carrying on the program. Betty Jane compiled large print books (because of visual impairment) and huge, colourful posters to support the music program. Thanks to so many who contributed and who supported us with prayers and good wishes.

ICC welcomes new members to our monthly meeting where members exchange ideas, become informed on current developments and continue to work toward fundraising goals for the year.

Individuals who wish to donate can use the donate button on our website  or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, Box 99, Judique, NS, B0E1P0. Tax receipts provided.

For more information contact

John Gillies 902 787 3441

John MacInnis 902 787 2475

Colleen MacDonald MacLeod 902 787 2251.


13 grade 10 boys have begun studies in a large sighted secondary school far from Kawambwa. ICC members visited and gave them gifts from Canada.
The four little girls (Grade 1&2) were playing and wanted to have their picture together. 
Betty Jane with Staff and students of Kawambwa school as they receive new musical instruments provided by Inverness County friends.

February: Zambia Visit

January 16th, 2020, Inverness County Cares (ICC) members Betty Jane Cameron (Mabou), John McInnis (Judique) and Charlotte Rankin (Judique) began their journey to the Kawambwa Project Schools in Zambia. (ICC members all are traveling totally at their own personal expense.) They are traveling with MaryAnne McKinnon’s Chalice team who are conducting their bi-yearly site financial audits and operational reviews of project locations in Africa. Our two schools in Zambia are populated mainly by albino children and children with vision issues.

Betty Jane: This experience is amazing. The people are delightful, the countryside is lush and vibrant, the food great. We have done a little work at St Mary’s School but we are mostly learning from them and becoming familiar with the process of braille printing and reading. We are learning of their interests and skills in music and the needs of the albino children. The children are eager budding musicians and busy with teaching guitars, the keyboard and flutes. The challenges of teaching albino and blind students has been brought home to us through authentic experiences. We can see how fortunate the schools are to have teachers who understand the challenges of the students.

Travel is challenging for all of us, as journeys to any destination are long and demanding. We are beset with delays and at one time experienced a broken transmission in our van just as we reached the hotel. We are a resilient team and having a great time. Home visits in the villages were awesome, and we met with a community development circle group who were learning and discussing new farming possibilities. Where ever we go we hear lots of singing.

John MacInnis: We really enjoyed being with MaryAnne McKinnon of Chalice and the Chalice team They open doors for us that would not be possible if we were independent tourists.

We are very grateful to MaryAnne for the privilege of being on such a trip! We are enjoying the Kawambwa and Mporokoso sites and Betty Jane had her first full day teaching music and is loving it. Charlotte is working with a grade six teacher. I’m painting one of the dorm rooms and on the fourth coat of paint with just the windows left. I have made a list of needed repairs at the school and we have purchased a lot of light bulbs that will be installed in the classrooms before we leave if time permits. 

 It is amazing to see so many visually impaired children; we marvel at how they support each other and their navigational skills around the school. Everyone is so nice to us and the kids are so smart. Enjoying ourselves.

Charlotte Rankin: I’ve visited most of the classes and although their curriculum is much different than our Nova Scotia program, there are many marvelous things going on.
Most of the teachers have either low vision or none at all. It’s very interesting to see them operating in the classroom, greeting the children as they come in and calling on the children by name. The children will write their answers in braille, then the teacher will read it and correct it. Since many of the text books are not available in braille, I was asked yesterday to read a grade 4 math lesson for a teacher as she took notes in braille which she will later use! There are very few discipline problems, since they are very happy to be here!

Individuals who wish to donate can use the donate button on our website  or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, Box 99, Judique, NS, B0E1P0. Tax receipts provided. For more information contact ICC members John Gillies 902 787 3441, John MacInnis 902 787 2475 or Colleen MacDonald MacLeod 902 787 2251.

Below is a link to an interview with CBC’s Peter Mansbridge and Canadian Peter Ash of Under the Same Sun, a Canadian organization which helps albinos in Tanzania.


Charlotte Rankin, Inverness County Cares member, working with student.
John MacInnis chatting with 99 year old lady
Students school for visually impaired

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