Since 2014, the number of students at the school has more than doubled! Because of this trend, and also our long-standing vision to extend the school up to grade seven, a decision was made to add two more classrooms to the existing school campus. This step became possible because of the activities of the previous years, in particular the completion of the wall fence and the construction of flushed toilets, thus meeting various security and hygienic requirements.
For the first time in its history iChange set up a dedicated fundraising campaign for this project, as it is the largest and most expensive investment of our charity so far. The fundraising goal was CHF 30,000, the amount needed to complete phase one of the overall construction project (first floor of the new building, housing two additional classrooms), which eventually will house four new classrooms on two floors. More than CHF 23,000 in donations was received. The total construction cost of phase one so far has totaled approximately CHF 26,000, with the difference covered from our general reserves.
With some wall plastering, painting and furniture, only a few smaller items remain in order to successfully complete phase one of this project and an official dedication of the two new classrooms.
In summer, Sharon, the previous principal of Mackenzie Community School left in order to pursue further studies and we said our good-byes with a heavy heart. Over the past year, Sharon's excitement, leadership and unwavering commitment to the school had brought a new atmosphere to the school and the community, a main reason for iChange to approve and start the expansion of the school.
In time for the new school year, Bright, Mackenzie Community School's new principal, assumed his responsibilities. Not only has Bright been part of the teaching staff at the school for a while already, he also grew up in Mackenzie and attended the school during its first years. Bright's commitment to 'his' community, his proactive approach to continuing to develop the school, as well as his enthusiasm and strategic thinking were convincing elements in selecting him as the new principal. Together with the school's dedicated teaching staff we are confident that he will be able to continue developing the school and its operations in a positive way.
Main objective for 2018 is to complete all necessary preparatory steps to allow adding grade five to the school's curriculum, possibly already in 2019.
In addition to the Mackenzie Community School, another major project for iChange is our cooperation with the Madalitso Wits Sports Academy. Thanks to a recurring, restricted donation we are able to provide ongoing, monthly financial support to the academy. This enables Madalitso Wits to maintain and even expand its wide range of sport programs. Beneficiaries of these programs are the youth and young adults in the surrounding communities, who are provided with safe and supportive opportunities for after-school activities. In addition, the academy's leadership places great emphasis on the development of leadership qualities and a positive interaction with each other. To this effect, complementing training seminars and lessons are offered in addition to the ongoing sports activities.
In 2017, eight selected students of the Madalitso Wits Sports Academy received an educational stipend from iChange, enabling them to start or continue their education. One of the students is slated to successfully complete his secondary education this year still. Our plan for 2018 is to add two more students to this program of iChange.
We look back at 2017 as a very successful year for iChange where various major milestones were achieved. From a logistical and financial perspective the two-classroom expansion of Mackenzie Community School was one of the biggest challenges in our history so far. That iChange was able to successfully meet these challenges without experiencing any financial strains is due in large parts to you, our generous and dedicated donors!
At the same time, the expansion of Mackenzie Community School means that ongoing operating costs for the school will rise in the next years. This includes a limited increase in the school's teaching staff as well as necessary investments into teaching materials and supplies for the new grade five curriculum and the increased number of students attending the school. We continue to pursue a strategy that will allow the school in the long-run to operate and fund itself independent of outside support. However, to achieve this goal, a joint effort by you, our donors, and the iChange team remains a key success factor.
We therefore would like to express our sincere and heartfelt thanks, also on behalf of the hundreds of children at Mackenzie Community School, for your continued and generous support. It is only thanks to you, our donors, that iChange can continue its successful project work in Zambia!