A Journey By Bicycle Can Make A Big Difference By Kate and Mick James

A random act of kindness by a Zambian schoolteacher in a village way off the beaten track in Africa (Ngoli village in Zambia’s Northern Province) has led us to a place where we have now teamed up with a charity to support children from the community to go to High School and College to fulfill their potential.  That first meeting, twenty years ago, has resulted in a lasting friendship between us and the Kayula family.

During our many travels in Africa we have experienced a multitude of aid programs and we have as a result developed a strong belief that once water and food are sorted out the next most important thing is education. We’ve met lots of smart children who will never be able to get one of the scarce paid jobs because their schooling finished at Grade 10 and we wanted to do something to try to bridge this gap and give kids a chance to fulfil their potential. When your parents earn £60 a year and High School fees are £500 your access to education is severely limited and we wanted to do something about this, helping kids progress through education and allowing them the chance to become the next doctors, teachers, scientists and engineers for their community and their country.

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We worked with the local school (10 teachers and 1000 children) and plugged a gap by providing a skilled builder and funding for materials so that the village could build another teacher’s house a prerequisite for the Zambian authorities to send another teacher. We supplied the money, the village provided the unskilled labour and the authorities provided the teacher and this felt like the best ever use of a work bonus.

Next we teamed up with a small charity (Fighting Poverty in Zambia – FPZ http://www.fpz.org.uk/projects.htm ) who have almost no overheads and a fantastic attitude, at the same time Mick persuaded his company to set up a payroll giving scheme which is the single most efficient way of reclaiming tax into a charity. We found an American charity (Zambia’s Scholarship Fund ZSF http://www.zambiascholarshipfund.org/ ), operating a similar scheme with staff in Zambia and good links to the local High Schools and Colleges, and formed a partnership with them for the delivery of scholarship places to kids from the village. We now have a number of individuals and organisations who have taken on the sponsoring specific children and our cashflow model will allow us to start 3 children a year allowing them to progress through High School (3 years) and then through College if they are capable enough. Key for us is the ability to be able to track the money right through to the kids and for every £1 donated 99.5pence is spent on the individual student, which is testament to the time and energy of the volunteers at both FPZ and ZSF.

We currently have six students in place with their entire funding guaranteed and are looking forward to many more years of helping these kids get a step up towards a brighter future.

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If you would like to be part of this please contact Mick and Kate James mjames@rgare.com or donate at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/ngoli

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