It’s Monday 5th May 2008 and the cement shortage

It’s Monday 5th May 2008 and the cement shortage

Zambia’s second term starts today and we had the student sponsorship day last Friday. I’ve started to get to know the students a little bit and it’s nice to see what they have been doing during the previous term. As this was my second sponsorship day – I knew what to expect and it went a lot faster than in January! It was Labour Day and so everywhere was very quiet, but the students, a few teachers and I all congregated at Cool Runnings (Daudi’s bar – of course no alcohol was to be had …), making it the happening place to be!

Taking the spot light today is Alick Phiri, a 22 year old orphan attending Mfuwe Day Secondary School. He arrived at Robin Pope Safaris looking for work so that he could support himself through school. He was living with his grandfather, brother and sister. At the end of last year his grandfather passed away, leaving him as the head of the family. His favourite subject is biology and he would like to become a mechanic after he graduates.

Alick Phiri and his bikeHappy children at Kapita Community School's new classroom block

Looking back over the past year, the Kawaza School Fund was a raving success – we completed the construction plans for 2007 and started on 2008 projects.  The new classroom blocks are now furnished with desks, books and school supplies and the students are really enjoying their new space. Several buildings were renovated. Three boreholes successfully struck water, reducing the pressure on the existing wells. The Kawaza School Fund is now eligible for tax-free donations in the USA, UK and Australia. We were also established as a charity in the UK – the Kawaza School Charitable Trust.

This year we are feeling equally ambitious with five teachers’ houses, two classroom blocks and nine toilet blocks.

Learning how to play with a parachute - kindly donated by Uphall South  ChurchThe new borehole  at Kawaza Basic School

Our projected budget for 2008 was US$ 160,000 … unfortunately with a few unexpected twists this has increased to US$ 250,000.

The twists:

Number one, of course, is the appreciating Kwacha value – sadly increasing the overall prices. Last year we were calculating budgets based on $1 = K4,000 and now it has changed to $1 = K3,300.

Students by the newly renovated Romilly's  Block at Kawaza Basic SchoolThe  next generation of footballers - will they make to the world cup?

Number two, and completely unforeseen … is the cement shortage.  Last year we made the decision to stop using clay fired bricks as it contributes significantly to the deforestation of the Nsefu Sector (conflicting with our Reforest Nsefu Project!) and to use cement breeze blocks instead (these blocks  are cured without fire) . Zambia has traditionally been a cement exporter, but with a region wide cement shortage they have started importing cement from China. Think about the carbon footprint. We still prefer to use cement, and are ensuring that we source only Zambian cement (which has doubled in price).  And … I hear you ask, what is the cause of the Southern African cement shortage? We’re not 100% sure but Jo and I think that the 2010 world cup in South Africa may have something to do with it (all those stadiums). In order to attract qualified teachers for our students; we do have to make teachers’ accommodation a top priority as well.

Unfortunately the increase in costs means that we have to downsize our building goals for 2008, and keep our budget to $160,000.  We are going to concentrate on the toilet blocks and teachers’ houses, with the hopes of raising enough money to begin the classroom blocks later this year. 


2007 Cost

2008 Cost



Classroom block (3x classrooms)





Teachers’ house





Toilet block (2x toilets)




And now for the awkward part of the email … we are about half way there with the fund-raising. If anyone is feeling particularly generous – every little counts, and a little goes a long way. About 7,000 people receive It’s Monday each week and if the majority of recipients donated $20 we would automatically we would reach our target.

Secondary school students studying hardStudents at the first classroom at  Katapilla Community School - a new classroom block will be built in 2009

Phew … now the awkward part is over, thank goodness for that! I’m typing up the students’, results, hobbies and family info and will have those available at the end of this week.

Please remember our Emerald Season Photographic Competition – if you have been, or are going on a Robin Pope Safari this Emerald Season and fancy 5 nights free at the fabulous Pumulani – please email us with your photos (downsized so that they are less than 100kb – try resizing to 640×480 pixels).

The winner of last year's photographic competition - Tom SavageThe exceptionally close  runner up - Alex Paul

Thanks and I hope you all have a lovely rest of the week!



Luangwa Sunset

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