On August 6th I returned to Zambia for one month. Together with Daniel and a volunteer from the USA we occupied – for the first time – the new 'Malaika Home', which was constructed earlier thanks to generous donations and support from friends and our families. Before that, we often shared the small house next to Malaika Home with ten or more people spread out over the only two bedrooms available there. Now, lack of space was no issue anymore. For more than two weeks during our stay we had friends from the Congo visit us and together the 14 of us shared the spacious Malaika Home without problems. Another major improvement that we enjoyed was our new mode of transportation: thanks to the donated bicycles we are now able to get to and from our destinations with ease and efficiency.
It was a busy and intensive month for us, as I was determined to use the time available in the most efficient way possible. Your generous financial support combined with the outstanding efforts of Nicholas and the Mackenzie community enabled us to achieve a lot in only a short period of time.
Every minute available to us was used to implement and conduct the following programs:
Microloans are often seen as one of the most efficient ways to battle global poverty. These loans enable the recipients, most of the time women, to start, maintain or even expand small businesses geared towards self-sufficiency.
In August, iChange started a Microfinance Program with a group of six participants. The preselected participants by the project leader were provided with a approximately $100 microloan with the objective to expand their existing operations. Most of the supported businesses were hatching/raising livestock (mostly fish and poultry), cultivating vegetables or producing baked goods.
As all funds are repaid with interest, these additional funds, too, can be used for new loans. Over time, the value of each initial dollar invested in the program and the number of families supported by such loans grow steadily.
A Zambian company offered the Suburbs Girls Basic School in Ndola old laptops that were not required in their business anymore. However, none of the twelve teachers working at this school had any experience in how to operate such a machine. Four times a week we thus loaded up with five laptops and marched to meet these teachers at their school to give them a daily two-hour introduction into this new technology. Just the thought that their school would soon be having these laptops available for use motivated the teachers enormously and we thus were able to transfer a lot of knowledge in a relatively short period of time. This, in turn, energized us as well as we realized that all this knowledge transfer would not end with them but be passed on to their students later on. This company's generous donation provides a tremendous opportunity for the school and we are glad to assist.
The third classroom and library, both built during the past two summers, are now ready for use. We plastered floors and walls, built desks and pews for the classroom as well as shelves for the library.
The many developments and improvement at Mackenzie Community School have also started to attract attention beyond Mackenzie. The Zambian government is now planning to extend water and power lines into Mackenzie to provide the neighborhood with electricity as well as clean, running water.
All of us are rather surprised but tremendously happy about the speed of progress that has been made within Mackenzie. It motivated me a lot to see that small steps can yield big advances.