We have written about Kunda before. He came to the FSC as a street child.
For many street children getting back into mainstream education after months, or years of living rough is very difficult. To find the grit to catch up, slog through year after year of exams, moving up through the school system, and into higher education requires imagination and determination. Kunda did not find it easy, but succeeded and qualified as a teacher. Throughout this long progress, he had always said that he wanted to help other homeless children. While waiting for a post in the Zambian national education system, he is teaching at FSC. As an ex street child he is an inspiration.
Zambia has many dialects, including 7 major languages. Kunda writes on the black board in English, but the class is taught in Bemba, which all the boys understand, even if their mother tongue is different: quite a challenge though.
The aim is to get the street children in the class up to a level at which they can rejoin mainstream education. Should they achieve this, the cost of sending a child to school is 2000 kwatcha a year ( £65 at the time of writing), and half this for a child attending primary school. A uniform costing £12 will also have to be found for each child. Uniforms are passed down, but eventually they wear out.
Depending on the exchange rate, Kunda’s 3 year teacher training course cost about £370 a year. This was paid thanks to the generosity of Romilly’s supporters and donors. There are currently a number of children at the shelter who have the ability and determination to enter higher academic or vocational education, but cannot do so for lack of funds. Most courses could be paid for with a donation of £30 pounds a month. These children have had a very rough start and helping Kunda has been very rewarding.
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Thank you Mia de las Casa for organising the concert; to Johnny May and Fausto Cassar for playing and to Jimmy Moore and Stella Stewart for hosting it on their boat. Thank you all for all the work and energy you put into it, and thank youto all those who gave so generously. Altogether you raised £700. Romilly’s charity transfers £1100/month to pay the salaries of the dedicated, long suffering staff at FSC, a Zambian NGO, who do so much for the very vulnerable street children of Kitwe. FSC would not exist without the generosity of people like you. Thank you.
As you can see, Fausto does not just play at charity concerts, but also at all kinds of events, including weddings. He is classically trained and teaches classical guitar. Telephone 0770975193. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Tonight a small, select audience of friends will gather on a boat on the Thames. They are there to hear a selection of classical music performed by Edmund May on piano and Fausto Cassara, on guitar. The boat is the home of Jimmy Moore and Stella Stewart and the whole evening was masterminded by Mia de las Casas.
To all the audience, Romilly’s charity thanks you on behalf of the homeless children of Kitwe. Thank you Mia, Stella, Jimmy, Fausto and Edmund. What a really splendid idea. Thank you for your support for a very worthwhile cause.
At Christmas Laura, who is twenty decided that she wanted to do something to commemorate the death of her cousin twenty years ago. She bought herself and her father, Sam, tickets to race in the Bristol 10K this Sunday 5th May. Her aim is to raise money for the care of street children, which Romilly’s charity supports. Sam says that it was quite hard to begin with, being dragged outside to train in the wet and cold, but that he is now in peak physical condition. They keen to go.
At the very least Friends of Street Children (FSC) provide homeless, very vulnerable children with a respite from the abusive, filthy life of the street. Beyond this,
the aim is to reintegrate them with whatever remains of their families, and while these are being traced, get them back to school. School is one of the best ways to keep the children off the street, as well as equip them for life. Primary school fees are £33 and secondary school fees are £65 p.a per pupil at the time of writing. You can donate here.
In the picture above children pose in the classroom with teacher and administrator Meya Mbulo. Meya has dedicated her life to street children. No one who has seen her in action with the children on the streets of Kitwe can doubt her compassion, dedication and courage. Through thick and thin, and there have been some very thin times, she has soldiered on.
” I walk more than 6 kms to school and back. It is great excercise but sometimes I get too tired”, says Kunda Benson. When he was very young, five years old, both Kunda’s parents died and he ended up homeless, living on the streets from 1999 to 2002. He was taken into care by Friends of Street Children in Kitwe (FSC). Kunda had the imagination to see that it was worth going back to school, which, with FSC’s help, he did. He had the character and determination to pass his exams year after year, while also helping at the FSC shelter. He succeeded in passing the exams to take a place on a teacher training course. Now he will be taking his final exams in April, which will enable him to start his teaching practice. Kunda has always wanted to give something back and still helps at the FSC shelter.
Kunda in the lab.
Kunda’s choice may seem like the obvious one, but not to all street children. For many, the idea of submitting to the discipline of the classroom in order to achieve long term goals is too difficult. Kunda has shown real imagination, tremendous purpose and determination, but there are other street children like Kunda, who follow his example. Their school fees need to be paid. Currently these are about £88 p.a per child in secondary school, depending on the exchange rate. If you would like to donate to support street children returning to school, please go to https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/donation-web/charity?charityId=1003642&stop_mobi=yes
Thanks to the donors and supporters of Romilly, the college fees of this exceptional young man have been paid for the last three years. Thank you all. Kunda writes, ‘I am so thankful for everything that you are doing for me and I am deeply humbled’.
After his teaching practice he will return to college for six more months. If you would like to contribute to his fees for this, please donate at
It was round about now, early evening as I write, twenty years ago that Romilly died. She was 14 years old. Romilly was very clever, as sharp as a tack, very funny but not remotely academic. She found school work dull. The bit she liked about school was being naughty with her friends. She was great fun, and had a wonderful sense of humour. She loved children though, and would have had a natural sympathy with the homeless children surviving in appalling conditions in Kitwe, Zambia.
The generosity of friends, family and strangers, touched by her death and the plight of these children, has achieved a great deal. Through the support that you have given to the Naivasha Children’s Shelter in Kenya, which you helped to create, and Friends of Street Children in Zambia, which owes its continued existence to you, lives have been transformed. Relations have been traced, children given a chance, school fees paid, salaries for teachers and carers paid, classrooms, shelters built, children rescued from the terrible life of the street. Lives have been saved. It really is something. If Romilly were alive to thank you she would, but since she is not I do.
‘Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart’.
Help Romilly help homeless, vulnerable children: please donate at
Christopher Mulenga died on 3rd September 2018. He was the chief executive of Friends of Street Children, the Zambian NGO, based in Kitwe, which Romilly currently helps to support.
He was one of the founders of FSC and worked tirelessly for its survival and that of the children it champions. For years he suffered from diabetes and recurring bouts of malaria. These were very debilitating. Earlier this year he started to loose his sight, and just before his death had undergone surgery on one of his eyes. Through all this I believe that he was sustained by his strong Christian faith and his sense of duty to the children.
He was a great ambassador for FSC, charming, courteous and endlessly good humoured in often very difficult circumstances. He was patient and determined. He was a pleasure to be with and to talk to, and I will miss him greatly. He is mourned by his wife, family, and colleagues.
He died at a time when FSC, with help from Romilly and Friends of Africa, was undertaking considerable changes in management and in the members of its board. These changes will build on Christopher’s work and help to make Friends of Street Children, to which Christopher gave so much of his life, even more effective in the protection, care and reintegration of the horribly vulnerable children and young people, whom Christopher sought to serve.
In his management role he will be succeeded by Meya Mbulo, a long standing FSC staff member, who like Christopher is a teacher by profession. Meya is very capable and highly regarded by her colleagues, and by anyone who has seen her in action in the streets of Kitwe.
My niece, Georgie Forshall, is walking 512 miles/825 kms along along the Caminha del Norte to raise funds to help street children. It’s not the well known pilgrim route to St Jaques, but the lesser known trail along the coast. She expects it to take 35 days. It is a serious undertaking: thirsty, relentless work. Thank you Georgie. You can sponsor her here.
Most of Romilly’s resources currently help to support the Friends of Street Children project in Kitwe Zambia. Thanks to the generosity of Romilly’s supporters her charity is currently able to contribute £800 a month towards the salaries of the staff, those who care for the children in the girls’ and boys’ shelters, work on the educational programs, making contact with the children and tracing their families or what is left of them. This is difficult, some times dangerous work. The charity has also paid for ex street child, Benson, to go to teacher training college.
The life of street children in a town like Kitwe, near the shanty towns around the copper mines and the boarder with the Congo is brutal. Rape, murder, beatings, drug abuse, and prostitution are the common lot of street children. For girls there is often no choice but to buy protection with sex. Friends of Street Children (FSC) is the only effective street child project in Kitwe. Its role is vital to them. Staff visit the streets during the day and night and provide a presence and a link to a safer world. Street children can stay at the shelter, in the dormitories built by Romilly, while they are reintegrated in the education system and their families, if they have any. The Zambian government only pay for children to go to school up to year 7. One of the best ways to keep children off the street is to get them into school and Friends of Street Children pay for some of the children to go to school.The finances of the shelter are fragile but the work they do is vital for these children.
The trustees of Romilly’s charity would like to be able to pay for more of the children in contact with FSC to go to school, as well as extend the range of skills that can be learnt at the shelters in Kitwe, Zambia.