EDUCATION FOR THE WIN: One young woman’s journey to a better life

Mutinta with some RN staff after delivering the face masks

In case you were about as baffled reading this week’s title as I was coming up with it, allow me to explain. In most cases, save a few, education has been the key to people being able to better themselves and to be able to provide for themselves and possibly their families as well. In a country where salaries are low and the standard of living is high, many people find themselves unable to drag themselves out of the generational poverty slump. What I’m trying to say, albeit in a rambling way, is that we pride ourselves in being able to contribute to being able to change someone’s life through the provision of sponsorship, which has of course been made possible by our amazing partners and supporters.

As I’m sure you know by now, RN provides sponsorship for children from first to 12th Grade. We also run a skills training sponsorship program where the girls are supported to undergo training in a practical skill such as catering, tailoring, power electrical, etc. Today, we meet a product of the skills training program, Mutinta Mwafulirwa. You may have seen her on our social media when we did a quick interview with her not too long ago. Mutinta, who is now 25 years of age, was on the sponsorship program till she completed the 12th Grade and then went on to pursue tailoring at the Youth Community Training Center (YCTC) and has also completed her degree in Nursing! A truly phenomenal young lady. Tinta as she is fondly referred to, through the empowerment she received in tailoring, started a small business where she sews clothes, etc. for clients. As with all businesses, her business has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a way of supporting her, we ordered some reusable face masks from her for our staff. She has also been contracted to sew uniforms for children under the sponsorship program. Mutinta was able to take the education and skill she was gifted to earn herself a living and a sustainable one at that. The epitome of the saying ‘give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime’. Way to go Mutinta!

So you see, providing someone with education, something so many people take for granted, can lead to unparalled positive effects in someone’s life. Want to be a supporter? Contact mail@responsenetwork.org and find out how. Also to support this young lady and her business, DM us for contact details. #staysafe

ALL HANDS ON DECK

In our last blog post, we filled you in on the village sensitizations we held in a few villages to raise awareness among our volunteers regarding COVID-19. It was really important to us to conduct these sensitizations as safely as possible and also as quickly as possible so that the volunteers could return to their respective villages and sensitize their communities as well. A lot of people in rural areas were walking around with the dangerous misconception that the pandemic would not affect them as it was just a ‘town disease’ or ‘for white people’, therefore we had to act quickly to equip them with accurate facts in order to keep them safe. Knowledge is power after all.

Masks and hand washing buckets ready for distribution

After this phase of sensitizations, we realized that there was a need to further aid the fight against COVID-19 in Livingstone. We came up with the idea of distributing reusable masks to parents and guardians of some of the children under the sponsorship program as they put themselves at risk every day to venture out and try to make a living for their dependents. We commissioned some alumni of the sponsorship program who had been under the skills training program studying tailoring, to make these masks that we then handed out on Friday, May 24th. 300 Masks were distributed safely at Ngwenya, Nakatindi, Mwandi and Libuyu Primary Schools. Before guardians were given masks, they were sensitized on COVID-19 and also on how to effectively sanitize their masks.

Media briefing at the office before distribution

The distribution was successful though we could not reach out to everyone, those who received were very thankful for masks and those who missed out are eager for the next round of distributions. In our own small way, we are attempting to find ways to help out and aid in the fight against this terrible pandemic. If you’re interested in finding out how you too can help us help the fight against COVID-19, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on any of our social media platforms or email mail@responsenetwork.org. #stayhome #staysafe #maskup

THE FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19

I think we can all agree at this point that the year 2020 is a complete wash. One never would have imagined that things would take such a horrible turn so quickly. We entered the year optimistic about what the new year would bring and for the rug to be pulled out from under everyone’s feet so rapidly is beyond unnerving. The number of cases globally and nationally are rising at an alarming rate and what many thought was a small viral outbreak, and in some cases, just a hoax, has quickly come to be the number one topic discussed by everyone.

As of today, April 17th, there have been a total of 48 cases in Zambia, with 30 having recovered and 16 active cases remaining. The effects of the virus are truly being felt as the economy has begun to suffer. Livingstone, where our offices are located, is known for being the tourist capital of Zambia and most businesses rely heavily on the large tourist presence we usually have, but due to travel being restricted and mostly all visitors having returned to their respective countries, businesses have had to shut down or scale back. A lot of hotels, lodges and guest houses have had to let their staff go and close down as they could not keep up with the running costs without their clients. Restaurants and other hospitality related establishments are also facing major challenges as their income has drastically reduced due to people not being able to patronize them.

As can be seen in the photo above, there have been quite a number of people recovering but the numbers are still alarming. In response to the current situation, RN has invested K8,000.00 in the fight against COVID-19 through the distribution of handwashing buckets, soap, spirit and glycerin (to be used to make hand sanitizer) and some items of food. The items were distributed in some of the communities in our working areas after our volunteers were sensitized on how best to prevent COVID-19 and the topics they should cover when sensitizing their fellow community members. This is not a battle that can be won in a day and we all need to pool our resources to help contain this pandemic. Contact us to see how best you can be a part of the solution too. Check out our social media platforms to follow our updates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community members being sensitized on how to wash hands

#quarantinelife

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find something peppy and upbeat to write about during times such as these. I think none of us has ever seen a virus just escalating at the magnitude that COVID-19 has.

What started as just a rumored or small and contained outbreak in Wuhan, China has led to countless people’s lives being affected. The global cases have are rising at an exponential rate and we are all basically living in fear. The cases as at this today, March 30th, have reached nearly 800, 000 total and deaths have totaled at 37,840.

At RN we’ve taken as many measures we can at this time, sadly our country’s economic status does not allow for citizens to be able to quarantine at home 24/7 as they are in countries such as the United States, therefore it does pose some risk traversing to and from work a day but we are taking care to keep ourselves and our surroundings sanitary at all times, avoiding unnecessary movements and only working half day at the office and the rest of the day, working from home.

It’s quite scary moving about and not knowing where the virus may be lurking or if and when you can be hit by it, moreover when you’re exposed to other people coming from all over Zambia and abroad as well. We’ll continue to lift everyone around the world in prayer and hope for a vaccine to be pushed out as soon as possible. Thank you to all health workers and others on the front lines putting themselves at risk every day for the greater good. You are appreciated more than you know. For regular updates follow @bbc and @who for factual updates on COVID-19. Until next week, stay safe, stay sane, sanitize, self-isolate.

LIGHTS. CAMERA. INTERVIEW.

An interview can be a nerve-wracking thing in any circumstance but when we’re talking about a possible once in a lifetime opportunity, the pressure surely amps up a notch.

We recently held interviews for a program run here at RN called the Youth Sport Exchange Program or YSEP as it is commonly referred to as. The program entails a stated number of volunteers being sent to a different country for a 10 month period. We previously reported about our YSEP volunteers to Norway and Malawi Moses and Patience, who have been fitting in quite well and our Norwegian volunteers to Zambia Daniella and Linn-Kristine were doing so well, sadly due to the dire health situation all over the globe, they will be returning to Norway shortly.

However, the show must in the meantime go on and we invited six hopefuls for interviews in order to select one qualified individual who will be sent on the exchange program to Malawi! For a lot of people in Zambia, the possibility of travel inside the country is a huge deal, so what more being able to travel abroad or overseas? We met the possible candidates for the exchange and after a somewhat grueling process where the selection committee had individual interviews with the candidates followed by group practical/demonstration session, one person was selected to represent RN, their community and Zambia when the time comes. We’ll introduce him to all of you in due time. Of course, all this hinges upon the guidelines and restrictions that might be in place at that time due to COVID-19. We’ll keep our prayer hats on that a solution is found sooner rather than later. This post strayed away from the initial headline quite a bit, but it had to done. That being said, stay safe and stay healthy everyone!

Candidates during the practical session

DEPENDENT NO MORE: FROM WIFE TO BREADWINNER

Today’s blog post finds us in Nampongo village which is about 60km from Livingstone. Nampongo is a hub of activities and the community members have really taken to RN’s self-help philosophy. It is imperative to us, that communities are able to gain the knowledge they are given by our facilitators and utilize said knowledge to start up their own income generating activities that can be sustained, using locally available resources and manpower.

The self-help concept could really be seen to have taken effect during a mini-meeting held on Tuesday, March 3rd, where community members testified to the absolute usefulness and pertinence of RN and self-help. The trip was made with a special visitor to RN, Roger Hansen and our good friends in media, ZNBC TV. The members, especially women passionately testified that their lives have been greatly improved due to learning about self-help groups and the save and borrow method. To explain the method in simple terms, a group of people come together to form a group and decide on how much money to ‘bank’ and how frequently. Once a decent amount has been saved, group members can then begin to borrow at an agreed interest rate. Some members said that they have already saved up to K5000 which is an amazing accomplishment. They added that the self-help groups and like activities have really given them a sense of pride and joked that now it’s their husbands who come to ask them for a bit of pocket money and can now even consider themselves breadwinners as well.

It’s always amazing to hear about such heartwarming stories and to actually see how people’s lives have been changed, simply with knowledge and it didn’t hurt that people were able to tell their change stories and be captured by the media, which will hopefully reach more eyes and ears and help more people improve their lives.

Check out more pictures and video from the visits on our social pages on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Until next week!

DEPENDENT NO MORE: FROM WIFE TO BREADWINNER

Today’s blog post finds us in Nampongo village which is about 60km from Livingstone. Nampongo is a hub of activities and the community members have really taken to RN’s self-help philosophy. It is imperative to us, that communities are able to gain the knowledge they are given by our facilitators and utilize said knowledge to start up their own income generating activities that can be sustained, using locally available resources and manpower.

The self-help concept could really be seen to have taken effect during a mini-meeting held on Tuesday, March 3rd, where community members testified to the absolute usefulness and pertinence of RN and self-help. The trip was made with a special visitor to RN, Roger Hansen and our good friends in media, ZNBC TV. The members, especially women passionately testified that their lives have been greatly improved due to learning about self-help groups and the save and borrow method. To explain the method in simple terms, a group of people come together to form a group and decide on how much money to ‘bank’ and how frequently. Once a decent amount has been saved, group members can then begin to borrow at an agreed interest rate. Some members said that they have already saved up to K5000 which is an amazing accomplishment. They added that the self-help groups and like activities have really given them a sense of pride and joked that now it’s their husbands who come to ask them for a bit of pocket money and can now even consider themselves breadwinners as well.

SHG club members speaking on how their lives have improved

It’s always amazing to hear about such heartwarming stories and to actually see how people’s lives have been changed, simply with knowledge and it didn’t hurt that people were able to tell their change stories and be captured by the media, which will hopefully reach more eyes and ears and help more people improve their lives.

Check out more pictures and video from the visits on our social pages on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Until next week!

A SAFER INTERNET FOR ALL

To commemorate #saferinternetday that passed not too long ago (check our socials), we decided to look a little closer into the phenomenon that is the internet and social media to be specific.

The internet and social media have quickly become things that are not that easy to forego. I for one know that social media has become so deeply ingrained into my daily life and i most certainly would not even be able to write this blog if we didn’t have internet and social media in the world and I suppose you all wouldn’t be able to read it either. As with all things, the internet has certain rules of thumb that one ought to follow in order to make the net a safer and better place for everyone. Due to the fact that RN offers extra IT lessons to all the kids on the sponsorship program, it is even more pertinent for us to be aware and raise awareness on issues pertaining to internet safety. Cyber bullying as well as a plethora of other issues and dangers can be experienced by all at one point or another if one is not careful or sufficiently aware of the dangers lurking in the web.

Students in the Resource Center where ICT lessons are held

We scoured through tons of literature on this topic and came up with the TOP 4 Golden rules for internet safety.
1. LIVE THE GOLDEN RULE. I will act with empathy, compassion and kindness in every interaction, and treat everyone I connect with online with dignity and respect.
2. RESPECT DIFFERENCES. I will appreciate cultural differences and honor diverse perspectives. When I disagree, I will engage thoughtfully and avoid name calling and personal attacks.
3. PAUSE BEFORE REPLYING. I will pause and think before responding to things I disagree with. I will not post or send anything that could hurt someone else, damage someone’s reputation or threaten my safety or the safety of others.
4. STAND UP FOR MYSELF AND OTHERS. I will tell someone if I feel unsafe, offer support to those who are targets of online abuse or cruelty, report activity that threatens anyone’s safety, and preserve evidence of inappropriate or unsafe behavior.

We sure hope the above tips help you when navigating through these social media streets but feel free to do a little research of your own because after all, you can never have too much information about safety. Also if you or anyone you know is interested on learning more about cyber bullying or other forms of bullying and abuse, and what you can do to help, check out stompoutbullying.org. That’s it for this week’s blog post, don’t forget to follow us on our various social platforms linked below 🙂

https://www.facebook.com/RNZambia/
https://twitter.com/response_netwrk
https://www.instagram.com/response.network/

A LITTLE HELP GOES A LONG WAY

Meet Regina Makai. Regina is currently on our sponsorship program, being supported by Delta Kappa Gamma Society and pursuing a Junior Secondary Teaching Diploma, majoring in English and Physical Education. With a ready smile for anyone who approaches her and a warm aura that puts all at ease, one would never guess the arduous road this young lady has had to traverse.

Abandoned by her father, leaving her mother to fend for herself and resulting in Regina being moved from home to home across the country, being cared for by relatives. This instilled in Regina a strong sense of resilience and the value of education. She is the fourth child and the only girl in the family and resides in a modest home with her mother and some of her siblings who have not yet wed.

Regina and her mother packaging the goods they sell in their ‘ka ntemba’

To make ends meet, Regina’s mother has had several temp jobs here and there and currently runs a small informal shop called a ‘ka ntemba’ where they sell tomatoes, mealie meal, fish, and charcoal among other things. On a regular day, Regina will wake up at around 6 a.m to assist her mother in some household chores before starting off for school where she spends the day until half past 6. Upon returning home, she will once again help her mother with house chores and packaging products for their shop.

The informal shop/’ka ntemba’ where they sell various items

When asked how she feels about the support she has been given, Regina had this to say, “the sponsorship I have received means a lot to me. I wouldn’t be where I am without it and I probably would have gotten into other vices such as beer drinking like some of my peers”. Her mother added that she thanks God for Delta Kappa Gamma and Response Network as there is no way she would have managed to pay for her child’s education. She said that she prays her sponsors and RN will continue to grow and carry on the good work they do for people.

If you or anyone you know would like to sponsor a child and help give them the chance at a better future, contact us at mail@responsenetwork.org.

LET’S TALK ICT

Computer Literacy has steadily been moving away from being a luxury into being a necessity. With the technology age not going anywhere, and indeed intensifying as the years go by, the need to be more than a little conversant in computers is becoming more and more important.

According to an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) survey carried out in 2018, only 6.8 percent of individuals across the country reported to know how to use a computer. The majority of individuals across the country had basic computer skills and mainly undertook basic activities on the computer. The proportion of individuals across the country with relatively more advanced ICT skills was low. The distribution of individuals according to their se based on the type of ICT skills revealed that the majority of individuals with the identified skills were mainly male. Due to this, and also the glaring lack of equipment in schools, leading to children being computer illiterate and failing or dropping ICT, computer lessons began to be held at the Resource Center located at our offices for the girls and now boys on the sponsorship program. The children have a trained ICT teacher to help them navigate the syllabus and we are proud that most, if not all the students have drastically improved in the subject at school.

The ICT teacher and RN staffer, Jocyline has done a great job of motivating the students to regularly attend the lessons and the numbers keep improving every term. Our partners at Academic Work supported us with the Resource Center and the computers and laptops that are used for these lessons, however with the growing number of students attending lessons, more equipment would make things so much better for the students to really be able to get as much out of these lessons as possible. If you or anyone you know would like to add some support to this initiative, feel free to contact us and don’t forget to follow our social media for more updates!