Raise a Smile supports orphans and vulnerable children through several different projects. Here are some examples of the projects we have completed in the past, and continue to implement in order to empower kids in Zambia!
More than half of the children in rural Zambia do not have access to clean drinking water and hygienic toilets. Dirty water and a lack of toilets lead to dangerous diseases such as cholera that can be life threatening, especially for young children. Water borne diseases are one of the leading causes of missed school days. If school toilets do not provide sufficient privacy, many girls stay at home for one week every month during their period. With our School WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) programme we improve the school infrastructure with toilets, girls' washrooms, boreholes and hand washing facilities. In addition to the infrastructural improvements we also spread valuable knowledge about important hygiene and health topics through School WASH clubs. With this project we can ensure pupils stay healthy and do not miss school unnecessarily due to illness.
Reading and writing is the foundation of education. Raise a Smile has therefore worked on several projects to improve literacy rates. In rural Zambia especially, teachers are often confronted with so many challenges that even some of the pupils who do attend school regularly are unable to read and write. Due to the remote and cut off nature of these schools, many suffer from a chronic lack of resources, overcrowded classrooms (over 100 pupils in one class is certainly not an exception!) and in some cases a lack of training for the teachers themselves. This is why the main focus of our work in this area has been on early literacy in rural primary schools. We have worked in partnership with the local Ministry of Education to complete a resource manual and host literacy training workshops for teachers. Our resource manual provides practical solutions to the challenges faced by teachers at rural schools and was distributed during our workshops where we trained teachers from more than 70 schools in Mambwe District (Eastern Zambia).
With education being our main priority, it is always upsetting to see children who are desperate to go to school denied the opportunity, simply because they don't have the necessary funds. The step up to secondary school is especially problematic, as the fees are often significantly higher. In rural areas secondary schools are few and far between, meaning many pupils have to travel to a boarding school, which is of course more expensive again! That is why we like to give committed pupils the possibility of finishing their education and the chance of a better future. For all the kids that we support, we also supply the school uniform, shoes, stationery and extra tuition for pupils who need additional support. We also have regular meetings to provide guidance and to deal with any problems that they may face.
Malaria is a tropical disease, transmitted by mosquitoes. Every year there are approximately 4 million cases of malaria in Zambia. Children under five and pregnant women are especially at risk, and infection can quickly lead to death if left untreated. We have therefore worked in partnership with the Ministry of Health on a variety of malaria awareness campaigns. These include a series of radio plays and panel discussions with malaria experts to spread knowledge about transmission, prevention and treatment of malaria, a large community event for World Malaria Day and activities with schools. We have also hosted malaria workshops with village communities and distributed mosquito nets. To make the information more exciting (and of course more memorable), we developed a series of educational games and activities that we have used in our work with children as well as with adults.
Current levels of deforestation in Zambia are amongst the highest in the world. If this doesn't change experts have estimated that Zambia (currently one of the wettest countries in Southern Africa) will become a desert in less than 20 years. We have therefore completed activities with schools in Mambwe District (in the East of Zambia) to teach children the important role that trees have in their future and what they can do to protect them. After learning about deforestation, every pupil was given their own tree to plant and take care of. Half a year later we visited the schools to award prizes to the pupils with the most well looked after trees. The overall winners were taken on a trip to a national park and were given the chance to not only see lions and elephants, but also to learn about indigenous trees.
Throughout the years Raise a Smile has also donated educational materials to various partner projects around Zambia. We have given out boxes of school textbooks, fun science games and kits, stationery for school pupils, local language reading books and much more!