Sunday 27 July 2014

Despite 21 Days In Captivity, Felix Ngoma Ready To Go Back To Darfur

By Paul Shalala

Upon arrival at the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport at around 14:17hrs this afternoon, Zambian humanitarian worker Felix Ngoma (right) was all smiles.

He was not looking shaken as most rescued hostages look.

"Am a happy man, am free and my spirit is still high," said Ngoma at the airport's VIP lounge.

Mr Ngoma was abducted by the Janjaweed militia of Sudan's Darfur region who demanded a ransom for his safe return..

"After three weeks of intense negotiations by various teams, am happy to report that Mr Felix Ngoma is back in the country and he will be reunited with his family today," said Zambia's Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba who handed him over to his family at the Ministry's headquarters this afternoon.

During interviews with journalists at the airport, Mr Ngoma spoke of his hope and determination to see freedom after his abduction.

"I'm ready to go back to Sudan to continue my work. My days in captivity were hard. The first 4 days i had no food but later they fed me. I did not give up hope as i knew one day i would be free," he said.

He described his stay as horrible.

His wife Mary who could hardly speak much, also described the 21 days as horrible adding: "They were my longest 21 days of my life."

Mr Ngoma has worked for the International Organisation for Migration for a long time and he has been to Sudan on two different missions.

He first went to the war-torn East African nation in 2007 and stayed there for a year.

Mr Ngoma returned to Sudan in march this year until this morning when the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing
787 Dreamliner plane flew him back to Zambia to a heroes welcome.

Friday 4 July 2014

Eastern Province Youths Receive 2014 Youth Development Funds

By Paul Shalala in Chipata

The disbursement of the 2014 Youth Development Fund in all the 10 Provinces of Zambia has commenced.

Eastern Province, which missed out last year, is the first province to receive its share of the annual budgetary allocation.

This year, 40 youths have been funded for their various businesses.

The number of this year's beneficiaries has increased by seven.

Last year's allocation of 33 has been grouped together with this year's beneficiaries.

Youth and Sport Minister, Chishimba Kambwili was in Chipata on Monday to deliver the 73 cheques to the beneficiaries.

During the handover ceremony, Mr Kambwili tendered an apology to the youths in Central and Eastern Provinces, for having failed to give them the funds in 2013.

The two provinces were not funded as their respective provincial committees delayed to submit names of respective beneficiaries.

The Minister later warned the beneficiaries to use the funds appropriately and later pay back the money to government as failure to do so will result in seizures or jail.

Mr Kambwili also clarified that the Youth Development Fund is non-partisan as the selection process is above boardt.

He reiterated that all beneficiaries are picked on merit and on the viability of their business proposals.

And Eastern Province Deputy Permanent Secretary Zachariah Luhanga revealed that 53 jobs have been created by the 18 groups that benefited from the 2012 allocation of the Youth Development Fund.

Meanwhile, the 73 beneficiaries come from all the districts of the Eastern Province.

Chipata dominated the list and the newly created Vubwi District only had one beneficiary.

Among the beneficiaries was Salati Njobvu of Chipata District who was given 26 thousand kwacha for his tailoring business.

SALATI is an ambitious young man who is disabled and crawls buts has a huge dream.

He plans to open a tailoring shop and create jobs for several youths in Chipata.

Joseph Legros is a Principal of a Youth college in Mambwe District where they train youths in various skills.

The Ministry has given his institute a grant of K60,000 which is expected to boost the institution's capacity.

For Vubwi District, Amina Sululu is the only person who was successful in receiving the Youth development fund and she hopes to grow her business.

Soon after receiving their cheques, the 73 beneficiaries of the 2013 and 2014 Youth development Funds embarked on a two day workshop on business management.

The youths were taught how to manage their business, how to handle money and how to payback the funds.

With the end of the workshop, the youths went back to their respective districts to start their businesses with the boost from government.

Among the businesses that were funded were metal fabrication, tailoring, agri-business, information and communication technology and education.

Meanwhile, Mr Kambwili has revealed that government is now forming a financial institution to effectively manage the Youth Development Fund.

"We have gone a step further, we have created the Youth Development Financial Enterprises which is like a bank. It will be disbursing funds to our youths. It name has been cleared by the Bank of Zambia and its now at PACRA where its being registered," Kambwili said.

With Eastern Province having received its share of the Youth Development Fund, Central Province is in the coming weeks expected to receive its share.

The Youth Development Fund is allocated in the National Budget on an annual basis.

It is distributed to provinces for onward allocation to successful youths who have brilliant business ideas.