PROJECT FOR THE BUILDING CONSTRUCTION
OF A KINDERGARTEN AND A PRIMARY SCHOOL
IN KAULEMBE – ZAMBIA
The first thought about
As you can read in our previous projects, the Association's goal involved the accomplishment of a training school for kindergarten teachers in an African country.
The reasons were those indicated: no resources from the aforementioned countries to be allocated to similar projects, the absence of a local specific training course and therefore of qualified personnel, the non attendance of kindergartens outside the capitals or, maybe, some other big towns.
This plan, although totally free, therefore with no cost from the host countries, has failed miserably, despite the efforts made by our members.
Why? The reasons are many: being a young and small Association instead of a powerful and structured international NGO has undoubtedly weighed, but had a greater impact, the principle that every officer, even of the highest degree, feared, that a future failure of the project coould damage his career. And so we got several comments, such as: “fantastic idea! Beautiful project! I like it, but please, ask for signing to my colleague .... ". And so from employee to executive, to deputy minister, etc .. In addition, the Government push for the training of teachers to be employed in the kindergartens of the capital, the only ones existing and the same trained people, prefer to stay in towns, where there is electricity for 24 hours, internet, boy friends, discos, instead of the faraway villages, without internet, discos and with a few hours of electricity. How to blame them ...
And so, after years of work and travels to Botswana, months dedicated to Cape Verde and an attempt made in Mozambique, we had recently thought of commuting our project into a bursary to support fresh graduates in Human and Social Sciences interested in living an experience in Africa, finalized at a future on-site project.
And, when by then, this seemed to be the destiny of our Association, everything changed completely.
We have been contacted by a retired Army general, who for years performed voluntary missions in various African countries, accumulating considerable experience about. Native to Rieti, he moved to Bergamo for ... seismological reasons and he was looking for an association with a project in Africa, being the two with whom he had carried out the missions, now close to suspending their activities.
He run into us for the contact opportunities offered by the web. At that time, we were frustrated by inactivity, close to abandoning, so that we had nothing to offer him. But him, correctly interpreting our will to create our own project, to help the weak people, concretely and not theoretically, on the way back from his last mission in Zambia, he made us a proposal that we have, not only accepted with enthusiasm, but widened and personalized.
Who we are
We are always the same people as 7 years ago, few but all operating in a specific sector. We are perhaps a little ... dented, with some disillusions, some defections, both in the members and in the donors, but with a renewed determination to complete our project this time.
We remain an absolutely secular association, still for a short time domiciled in Bergamo, but close to moving to Rimini, where we have found many friends.
Nothing has changed regarding the recognition as a non-profit organization and access to donations through the 5 per thousand.
In addition to the website www.santinagusminionlus.org, you can follow us on our Facebook page and soon also on Instagram.
Why in Zambia
Zambia had been our first international contact, through the Embassy of Rome, which however had not led to any development.
This time, in truth, we were contacted and, since the country was among those we had considered to achieve our goals and we liked the proposed project, we agreed with enthusiasm.
However, here are some significant reasons:
• It is a country two and a half times the size of Italy, 752,000 sq km, sparsely populated, 17 million people. Where faraway villages, even for lack of infrastructure, are really far from everything
• It has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the area, equal to Us$ 1,503, compared to Us$ 3,621 in Angola, Us$ 6,012 in Namibia and Us$ 7,973 in Botswana (IMF data 2018), resulting 156th out of 193 countries
• Independent since 1964, it immediately proclaimed the refusal of any racist government, black or white
• It has never been reported tribal or religious conflicts and has always enjoyed an effective social peace.
• The plan to give a school to all the children within 5 km of the village of residence, seems worthy of real support
• The residence in the country, for over twenty years, of Enrico Carretta, an Italian very active in cooperation, who will manage the relationship with the Ministry of Education and the local communities, as well as directly controlling the progress of the work, is decisive for us for the success of the operation
• The meeting with a new friend, Aldo De Michele, the one who introduced us to the project and whose experience in dozens of missions in Africa proves invaluable for managing the various phases of this initiative, it was decisive for us
• The opportunity of creating a sample project, therefore replicable, with shared choices, that consider the needs of the users and the goals of the Association has furtherly convinced us.
Mission and Vision
The project we are going to achieve is certainly different from the one initially planned. But the Mission and the Vision remain the same: only the way to realize the same goals has changed. About those, we refer you as we argued in our previous projects.
How we shall work: the project in details
Basically an assumption is needed: over seven years have passed since the birth of our Association and the arrangement of our first project and, even if in Africa it sometimes seems that the time is not passing, the problems never solve and the general conditions of the weakests, impervious to any political change, never change (if not for the worse ...), in reality this is not the case.
The countries we talked to, Botswana and Zambia, did not have, at the time, a specific university or para-university course for the training of kindergarten teachers, now they have established it.
The kindergartens, few, existed only in the capitals, due to the scarce economic resources and the poor interest of the governments about the matter.
Now the story has changed: Botswana and Zambia have a university course for aspiring kindergarten teachers, but in practice they train people only for kindergartens in large urban centers, the only ones existing. The faraway villages are even further away from the services offered by the capital, unemployment consolidates worrying numbers, resources are modest and the priorities seem to be others.
In Zambia, a highly indebted country, which is struggling to repay international loans expiring by 2024, there is a problem with school facilities in the most remote areas.
The goal "a school for everyone within 5 km" requires foreign supporters and provides for the construction of school buildings, starting with a primary school, in designated areas, on government projects, carried out by qualified companies, to be chosen from a list supplied by the government.
Although sparsely populated, Zambia has a population eight times greater than Botswana and Namibia, in an a space not too different, 44% of which are less than 14 years old! And the attraction of the capital for services offered, employment and living conditions, is very strong.
Re-planning the project of training kindergarten teachers in the country, probably still operable, would have contributed to increasing the distances between the faraway communities and the capital, also in terms of essential services.
Building primary schools together with kindergartens, on the other hand, contributes to the opposite effect, keeping the communities in the area, improving their services.
That's why the project has changed, but the objectives and specifically the Mission and the Vision remain the same.
Here is what we are going to achieve:
a) The area. The area where we will operate is the village of Kaulembe, a few dozens of km north of the city of Chipata, the most important center of the area, located in the northeast of Zambia, 25 km from the Malawi border. It is an area populated by around 2,000 people who live in hut villages that our friend Mr. Aldo De Michele visited in August, at the call of Mr. Enrico Carretta, to build a well that would allow to get water available near the village. He was informed of the need to get a school, as the existing one consists of a hut, mud walls and earth seats, which is difficult to define as a school building.
b) The buildings. The Ministry request was only for the primary school, built in masonry, large windows with glasses, sheet metal roof, consisting of two classrooms plus an additional room for teachers. Since we focused on kindergartens, mainly for the villages far from the main centers, we are committed to financing the construction of the primary school in the proposed ways and times, however asking to make it a sample project, potentially replicable in other areas , where, alongside the primary school, a kindergarten of the same size and typology can simultaneously arise. Both the schools will be dedicated to Santina Gusmini and we have been allowed to realize them with the colors of our logo: pink and blue. So the plastered parts will be pink, the fixtures and the roof will be blue. And like this one, will be all the other building we will edify in the country. In the project there were no bathrooms, due to the absolute lack of sewers. We are however trying to add at least a few African baths. Obviously the budget has gone up, compared to the first proposal, but we believe these are indispensable additions. We are also considering the possibility of providing the nursery school with a playground for younger guests
c) Proceedings and achievement times. The head of the Ministry of Education for northeastern Zambia, has already visited Kaulembe village, giving her approval for the construction. Following this authorization, we received the official invitation letter few days ago. After Christmas holidays, Enrico will send us the final project, the specifications, the new detailed cost budget and the contract. If everything will be fine, we sign the contract and it is estimated that works will start in February 2020, depending on the trend of the rainy season, particularly copious in this area. The end of the works is scheduled for the end of August or the beginning of September 2020 and we plan to make the official inauguration within the 15th of September, to which all of you are invited
d) Delivery and ownership of buildings. This project aims to promote the growth of the most distant and poorest communities, therefore the schools will not belong to the government or ourselves, but will belong to the local community, which will have the task of maintaining and managing them in the best way.
Sustainability and sponsor
Certainly economic sustainability is crucial to allow at a project to pass from the status of excellent idea to become real and solid initiative. Too many times, especially in developing countries, laudable initiatives are miserably wrecked in short time or because too ambitious and not adequately supported, or expenditure estimates were incorrectly assessed. Santina Gusmini Onlus is a young association, but the partners have absolute awareness of the risks that have swept individuals and organizations like ours. That’s why concepts such as pragmatism, practicality, low profile and certainty of costs are the cornerstones of our Association. Beyond principle considerations, it is clear, however, that the fundamental question to which the Association must answer unequivocally is: how do you intend to cover the costs? The answer can not be simplistic or evasive, but it deserves a thorough analysis, because on it, is based the survival of the Association itself and the success of our initiatives on an ongoing basis.
Compared to our projects proposed in other countries, in Zambia we are facing a very different reality, which also significantly changes the perspective of fundraising and donations.
• First of all, it is a closed project from the point of view of the requested budget: we’ll receive an expense specification, indicating the final cost of the entire work that must be financed by the Association
• We will be informed in advance of the beginning and the end of the works, which must be respected and about the deadlines for the funds sending
• The buildings will be entirely carried out by a local company, therefore operational volunteers or offers of material elements for the construction, are not necessary
• No additional funds will be needed after the completion of the works and the inauguration of the buildings
Fundraising is therefore the only goal, with all the methods that may allow us to achieve our goal.
Here are some options that we activated for the collection:
• Free donation to our bank account, directly or by this website
• 5 per thousand devolution through the tax return
• Dinners for fundraising for supporters: we held one in Rimini on December 2, we will hold a second one in Bergamo by January 31, 2020
• Sharing of restaurants interested to the program: "Tina's dish" with a donation of 2 or 3 euros on each special dish ordered, collected by the restaurant owner
• Jams manufacturing to be offered to donors
If anyone has other ideas, we will gladly consider them
People and institution involved: mutual commitments
The project that the Association intends to carry out in Kaulembe, to be successfully completed, needs to see the full involvement of four subjects:
1) The Ministry of Education of Zambia
2) The Kaulembe Community
3) Mr. Enrico Carretta
4) The Santina Gusmini Onlus Association
The Ministry of Education. The task of the Ministry was to identify the community worthy of the works in question and the intent of this community to better manage the structure, once it was built. The Ministry, in cooperation with the Kaulembe Community, will manage the teaching staff. We strongly hope that the successful outcome of this our first work, will be the beginning of an ongoing collaboration.
The Kaulembe Community. The Kaulembe Community will receive the buildings, completed in its entirety, as a gift. It will have to maintain them in good condition and efficient for the use for which they was intended, monitor the good performance and continuity of the teaching carried out in the structure.
Mr. Enrico Carretta. Enrico will have to keep in touch with the Ministry until the completion of the works, report about the progress of the works and monitor the continuity and efficiency of the construction site, promptly informing us of any problems that arise, communicate the end of the works and organize the inauguration.
The Santina Gusmini Onlus Association. Our Association approves the project and the specifications received from Enrico, fully bears the cost of the works to be carried out within the agreed times, and will be present with some of its members in the area to verify the success and conclusion of the works.
Purposes and goal
We want to once again remind that our project has a dual purpose both cultural and social. We consider essential for the overall growth of a whole people, drawing nearer to a school as soon as possible the maximum number of kids. A true and lasting social change, can only go through a global cultural growth.
We can not exclude, from this essential growth process, the people living in the poorest areas. Improving the status of women and children also there, hundreds of miles away from the cities, where time seems to stand still, in a sort of unchanging world, it is our first goal.
A study of CNEL (Italian institution that deals with Economy and Labor – www.cnel.it ) estimates that about two million people per year, will migrate every year up to 2050, from Africa to Europe. Prevent our children from becoming migrants by necessity, also thanks to the contribution, although modest, of our Association, would be a great satisfaction.
For sure we will not solve the serious problem of unemployment that afflicts your country, but we are glad to cooperate to combat it, by creating new jobs.
Our approach will always be low-key, never forget that we are guests of a great country that welcomes us, so that we can help, where the local economic resources may be insufficient. We simply want to be your more lucky friends, who want to share with you the knowledge and resources they have. These beliefs, combined with our determination to defend our independence and our ideals, we believe it is our real strength.
Dr. Maurizio Testa
President of Santina Gusmini Onlus.