Friday, 28 October 2016

Zambia, Zimbabwean Youths Launch Social Media Campaigns Over Water, Health & Education

By Paul Shalala in Lusaka
Zambia & Zimbabwean youths advocating for #QualityEducation

A group of 26 youths from Zambia and Zimbabwe have launched three social media campaigns to raise awareness over a number of issues affecting residents of Lusaka.

The youths, who have been attending a five day training in Social Media and Advocacy in Lusaka organised by Global Platform Zambia, launched the three campaigns this afternoon.

The campaigns include #QualityEducationZambia, the Water Crisis in Mtendere and #Youth4SRH.

Earlier in the day, the youths, who were split into three groups, visited various places within Lusaka to document problems the residents were going through which they can use for advocacy.

The group which visited the University of Zambia, interviewed a number of students and those found on the Great East Campus over quality education.

"We got various views from people we interviewed. What we learnt was that people want quality education. They are saying quality education is beneficial to their careers," said Tigana Chileshe, a Zambia participant who gave a power point presentation.

Mtendere residents carrying containers of water
Tigana later unveiled the group's eight minutes documentary which showed youths calling for quality education.

Using the hashtag #QualityEducationZambia, the group wants to raise awareness for quality education as part of the drive for Zambia to attain the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number four.

Zambia is among the signatories for the 17 SDGs which are expected to be met by 2030.

In September 2015, world leaders who met at the United Nations in New York agreed to replace the Millennium Development Goals with the more robust SDGs.

Using social media, the nine participants from the first group hope to push for quality education every time they are online.

And in the second group, participants produced a four minutes video detailing the challenges residents of Mtendere go through when fetching for water.

The video showed residents queuing at a tap found at a filing station as there was no water in the neighourhood.

It also showed a business owner who was complaining about erratic water supply for his carwash.

Sammy Milapo interviewing Mtendere residents
"The people we interviewed complained that they have been reporting water shortages to relevant authorities but there is no action," said Sammy Milapo, a Zambia participant who unveiled the video during the training.

In the third group, participants visited Kalingalinga Clinic to check on the Youth Space which was created to accommodate youths when they come to access Sexual Reproductive Health Services.

However, the group was not allowed to film as they did not seek permission from the Lusaka District Health Management Team.

"We were however allowed to see the youth space even though we could not film. What alarmed us were the lack of activities for the peer educators who just sit there and wait for youths. Also, there is no proper signage for the youth space and it is a challenge for a youth to locate the place," said Nhlanhla Moyo, a Zimbabwean participant who gave a powerpoint presentation.

The group also plans to raise awareness about Youth Spaces and lack of good funding from government using the hashtag #Youth4SRH.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

41 Year Old Kitwe Mother In Grade 12 Class With Teenage Son

Given (left) and her son Chishala (right)
By Paul Shalala

Her day starts at 05:00hrs like any other mother.

She sweeps the surrounding of her house and washes plates.

Given Mwila is a 41 year old mother of Kitwe’s Chimwemwe Township.

She is not just a mother, but also a school-going pupil.

She has three fully grown children and lives with her husband who at first did not believe she would ever go back to school.

Interestingly, Given is in the same class with her 19 year old son Chishala at Parklands Secondary School.

On every week day, they prepare for school together and leave home at around 06:00hrs.

Luckily for them, a neighbour owns a public service minibus which takes them to school.

He picks them up just outside their house at exactly 06:15hrs.

On this 20 minutes ride, they do not pay as the bus owner has made it a policy to help them out.

The duo usually arrives at school at around 06:35 ahead of class which starts at 07:40hrs.

Her decision to go back to school was not an easy one as school authorities had hesitated to accept her.

“I stopped school many years ago because I wasn’t interested. But a few years ago I decided to go back. Initially, the school refused but they later told me that I needed to start from Grade Nine. So that’s how I enrolled and wrote the examinations. I passed and continued until today,” said Given with smiles on her face.

Against all odds, she desires to become a nurse.

“I came back to school so that I can study to become a nurse. I have always wanted to be a nurse since childhood.”

Being a prefect and the oldest pupil at Parklands Secondary School, Given has become a darling to many pupils who are over two decades younger than her.

“I do not mind her age, we joke and talk a lot of stuff mostly about school,” said Fewdays Kalimu, a male classmate who identifies himself as Given’s best friend.

Another pupil said she treats Given as her mother due to her motherly advise on academic issues.

When this blogger went to Parklands Secondary School on Tuesday morning to conduct an interview with Given, he was shocked to see her mobbed by both girls and boys who took turns greeting and cracking jokes with her.

With her trademark smile, Given, who wears a green shirt for prefects, hugged the pupils in return and lovingly responded to their greetings.

Her son Chishala, who stood next to her during the interview, said he does not mind being in the same class with his mother.

“I have been learning with my mother for three years now. I treat her like any other classmate. We do home work together and I do not feel intimidated by her presence,” said Chishala.

However, the mother jokingly says she intervenes if her son misbehaves in class.
Given cleaning her surrounding before going to school

“If he misbehaves with his friends in class, I just point a finger at him and he behaves,” said Given as her son burst into laughter.

And school authorities have disclosed that they decided to appoint Given a prefect in order for her to continue being an inspiration to the young ones.

In an interview, Parklands Secondary School Headteacher Elizabeth Chumpuka praised the 41 year old pupil for her zeal to upgrade her education.

“We saw her maturity, determination and hard work that’s how we chose her as a prefect,” she said.

Given’s story has also been commended by Kitwe District Education Board Secretary Kezala Mwale.

“The young lady is an inspiration. Her decision to go back to school decades after dropping out is a signal that government’s re-entry policy is working. I wish to urge other girls to emulate her and go back to school to complete their education,” he said.

The re-entry policy Mr Mwale referred to is a government initiative which allows female pupils who drop out of school on account of pregnancy or early marriage to return to class after delivery or when they deem it fit. 

Given’s dream of becoming a nurse is just a few years away from being realised.

This year she is seating for her Grade 12 examinations and she is confident of pulling through.

Her determination is amazing and it is expected to make her a role model in a society where adults rarely go back to school.