How one church is effectively using limited resources to reach two different populations.
“The building already looks totally different and has greatly given us a lot of morale. ”
What student doesn’t love a holiday? But what if others could use those classrooms during school breaks?
In Zambia, a new project is expanding a Teacher Training College that will offer agricultural training when the student teachers are on holiday. This creative, flexible use facility will address two key needs of Zambians. The first phase has been finished with the completion of a new roof for the multi-purpose building.
You might think of Zambia as a tourist destination. Indeed many people visit Victoria Falls and the Zambezi river. However, Zambia is actually one of the poorest countries in the world, with a majority living on less than $2 a day. Those in the rural areas experience the deepest poverty.
Many Zambians rely on agriculture for their livelihood. Earlier attempts to improve the lot of farmers have not been successful. Farmers must learn better farming practices including crop diversification and cultivation of indigenous livestock. It doesn’t help that many are illiterate. A shortage of effectively trained teachers means few rural Zambians receive a decent education. This makes learning new skills later in life challenging.
Zambia’s problems are complex. Reducing poverty won’t be solved by a single fix. However, the Anglican Diocese of Central Zambia is meeting this challenge with this creative project focused on the Mkushi/Fiwila area, an area of Central Zambia far from the tourist hot spots. Specifically, the church is renovating an existing building in order to expand opportunities for training both farmers and literacy teachers. The new space will allow the existing Teacher Training College to triple the intake of students, from 25 currently to 75.
Then, while the student teachers are on vacation, the church will use the improved facilities to train farmers. Initially, twenty-five farmers will participate in a residential program where they will learn new farming methods. After a month, they will return to their villages under the guidance of government extension workers where they will pass on their knowledge to others. At the next school holiday, another 25 farmers will be trained, allowing for 75 farmers to be trained annually.
We are excited to report that despite some operational challenges, the future classrooms have a new roof. Work was delayed until the roads became passable after the rainy season. The project has also been hampered by an unfavorable change in the exchange rate. This made the cost of materials – and the fuel to transport them – more expensive. However, with the new roof, the progress is already boosting morale, according to Canon James Chiyabwe.
The next phase of the project is to outfit the classrooms, purchase adequate transportation for trainers and crops, and build the demonstration farm. We look forward to bringing you future updates as this project progresses.