Meet Benson: Street Hero

Benson’s parents died when he was five. His older sisters were left to care for him, but they didn’t….

Young African man from Zambia in blue against a green background

They mistreated him, badly enough for him to take his chances on the street when he was seven years old. He was homeless in Mufulira for three months and then came to Kitwe, where he was also homeless. For a while he stayed with Friends of Street Children, leaving them for an orphanage run by the Catholic Church, from which he ran away. FSC street workers picked him up and lodged him at the FSC Kawama centre.

From the FSC Kawama centre he went daily to primary school, passed the national examinations with flying colours and was accepted by his secondary school, which he completed. This is a considerable achievement for someone who started life as a street child. Benson has always wanted to be a lawyer, so that he could defend street children, but until now he has not had the sponsorship to go to university. Since leaving school he has worked at the FSC Kawama centre, helping out with street children. He understands them and speaks their language. Throughout his life he has shown, resilience, intelligence, determination and courage. For his fellow street children he is a remarkable example.

Thanks to the generosity of Romilly’s supporters, her charity has been able to transfer £300 for Benson’s first term at teacher training college.

If you would like to donate in order to help fund the next term of Benson’s teacher training course you can do so here.

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charities/romilly

My thanks to Christopher Mulenga for sending me the photograph of Benson.

 

 

 

 

 

Saving a child, Easter Sunday, 2015

In the warmth of the African night three outreach workers of Friends of Street Children (FoSC) were walking through Kitwe market. During the day this is a colourful part of town. At night it is sinister. Here and there naked bulbs hanging from the stalls throw out dingy pools of yellow light. Shadowy figures can been seen sleeping on the market stalls and in the dark under the board walks homeless children sleep near open drains.  Drunken men lurch out of the shadows.  Here the three out reach workers found a 14 year old boy. He had been badly beaten and raped. He was in great pain and near to death. It was just after 10.00 p.m. on Easter SundayStreet child sitting on bed with rescuer

David with one of his rescuers, Meya from FoSC    Thanks to Barry Traynor the photograph

They took him to the Hill View Hospital, where FoSC have an account, and where the chief clinician admires FoSC’s work. David was treated there for four days. His life had been saved.

Good Work by FoSC

Barry Traynor, a social worker from Northern Ireland, who has just returned from a visit to Kitwe and who over a number of years has spent 3 years working with FoSC praises their work, ‘Honestly, when I’m out there I am constantly amazed by the number of confident young people who say to me that their life was saved by FoSC’.

Not all children are as lucky as David though. Christopher Mulenga of FoSC says, ‘The life of a street child is brutal and short. Apart from the ones who we are able to reintegrate with whatever remains of the their families,  the ones who live longest are those who end up in prison,  and most of them do not come out of there alive’.

I am walking from Gretna Green to Inverness across some very rugged country to raise money to help Street Children. Please donate. http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/RomillysOneIslandWalk

 

Romilly’s One Island Walk for Street Children: Why we are walking.

This is Jo Jo. He’s sniffing jet fuel. Jet fuel it doesn’t speed him up or help him fly. It slows him down and destroys his brain.  Street Child in Zambia sniffing jet fuelJo Jo is 14. This photo was taken by Christopher Mulenga when Jo Jo was living on the streets of Kitwe. He is now in the care of FOSC in Kitwe. He left home when he was 11  because his parents abused and beat him. He doesn’t want to go back. At the moment he is being taught and domesticated at the Kawama site of FOSC, in order to get him back to school. Thanks to the generosity of its donors Romilly is currently able to pay for half the salaries of FOSC.

Help Romilly to help children like Jo Jo at :

http://www.virginmoneygiving/team/RomillysOneIslandWalk

Romilly would like to help FOSC become more self sufficient and is examining ways in which to do this.  If you would like to see how these develop, as well as follow our fund raising adventures, click the +follow  button.

School boys anywhere. Not street children anymore.

I like this photograph, which Christopher Mulenga has just sent me from Kitwe, in the Copperbelt of Zambia.School boys, ex street children, classroomThey could be school boys anywhere. It’s one of those moments we all remember. You have been assembled in class not for lessons, there are no books, but to listen to some guest speaker or to hear some kind of announcement. It’s that moment when we waited for whatever we were to hear to begin. The speaker has not arrived or is fiddling with the projector. Some chat, some snooze, some joke, some daydream.  But what I like about this picture is that all these boys are clean. Their skin, their hair, their clothes are clean. Yet not long ago they would have been living on the street. Their skin would have covered in dust, parasites, and sores. In Kitwe they would have slept out near open drains. These boys look happy. They are well fed. They are cared for.

Good job,  all you generous Romilly supporters out there.

These children are at the Friends of the Street Children site Kawama, Kitwe, which Romilly helps to support. They are being prepared to re enter mainstream education, while Christopher Mulenga’s colleagues try to locate what remains of their families.

Sign up to follow the projects you have so kindly supported. Click on the follow button.

Philemon Chilufya is not a street child. This is his home.

This is the house where his mother Mrs Chilufya looks after Philemon, his two sisters and their children.  She is a widow.  Readers of this blog will remember that her husband, Philemon’s father, a security guard, was murdered in July 2012 while on duty at the Friends of Street Children site where Romilly’s donors had paid for the construction of two dormitories. African child in yellow top standing in front of house with corrugated iron roof and washing lineSince her husband’s death life has not been easy for Mrs Chilufya and her family. Christopher Mulenga of Friends of the Street children tells me, that they live in ‘abject poverty’. Now she is unable to find £170 to pay for Philemon’s school fees and uniform.  Philemon has done well at school and passed his exams to move up into Year 10, but the Zambian government does not provide free schooling after Year 7. Thanks to his gallant mother Philemon is not a street child, and keeping a child at school is one of the best ways of making sure that he (0r she) does not become one.

The trustees of Romilly’s charity will be sending the money for Philemon’s school fees and uniform, as well as £360 to repair the minibus generously paid for by Romilly’s donors.

If you would like to help Romilly  to give street children a chance click on the button below to donate.

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” Thank you for sending us to such a wonderful place”.

Thanks to the repair of the well and the replacement of the pump, the boys at the Kawama shelter for street children run by FOSC are able to grow their own vegetables again.  Thank you,  all you generous donors,  who made this possible.  Thank you, too,  to Lucy Johnson and her family who visited the site and who sent the pictures below.

P1010277

Lucy wrote,
“Thank you for sending us to such a wonderful place. Christopher is clearly inspired and inspiring, and can make anything happen. He is much admired among teachers in Kitwe, and our friend Francis Chilufya, who is head of Riverain primary, came with us to see what Christopher has done. Riverain needs a bore hole (they owe the water company a fortune and regularly have their supply disconnected – all their money goes on water not books) and Christopher explained to Francis exactly how he had managed to knock the engineering company down to the best price, and ensured they put in the right electrical kit, pump and piping. He also used some of your donation money to get the tower painted. The bore hole has made a phenomenal difference – you can see how productive the garden is, and all the boys are so proud of it, and so happy to show us what they have been doing. Look at the tomatoes! The whole project was very moving.”  P1010278 P1010279 P1010280 P1010281 P1010283-1

Romilly helps street children to help themselves

Following the success of the first fish pond at the Naivasha Children’s Shelter (see February 19th’s post) Romilly is sending 4625 euros  to pay for a second fish pond and two green houses.

The charity is also paying for the repair of the borehole and the replacement of the pump at the Kawama shelter in Kitwe. Once the borehole is working order, Romilly, will contribute £5000 to the £12000 cost of a consultancy study by the group ‘Teach a Man to Fish’.

The Kitwe project needs to be more sustainable in order to be able to continue its excellent work, that is to say that it needs to grow more food, provide more of it’s own income, and raise more money locally. The aim of the study by ‘Teach a Man to Fish’ is to identify ways of doing this and to help FSC of Kitwe write a business plan.  £12000 does not sound a great deal for this kind of a study, but ‘Teach a Man to Fish’ is a charitable group.

Positive News From Kitwe

After the soaking we have had, Devon is like a wet sponge in a puddle, but today, in the pale windy sunshine we have seen the first primrose of the  year.

And Christopher Mulenga of Friends of Street Children in Kitwe writes to say,

“We are working very hard towards the improvement of our service delivery to the children.  We have have currently 23 boys in the rehabilitation centre at Kawama (a record) and 14 girls in the rehabilitation centre at Cibusa. The government recently gave us a helping hand by giving us ten bunk beds, 20 mattresses, 40 blankets, 40 bags of mealie meal, 60 litres cooking oil and a sum of K10,000 rebased or K10m old currency.”

Street Child to Carpenter – One week to Fascinating Aida’s concert for homeless children

Christopher Mulenga of Friends of the Street Children has sent me this photograph of Zacharia graduating.  Zacharia came to the street in 1999 when he was 9 years old. According to Christopher, his parents were drunks and did not care about him. He started attending the open air street corner classes provided by Friends of Street Children (FOSC), and then went into one of FOSC’s residential homes. After a few weeks he ran away. FOSC did not lose contact with Zacharia, and found him a place at a local school where he studied construction and carpentry. He graduated and was given a set of carpentry tools, which he sold a few days later in order to pay for food.Zac ended up on the streets again, but he kept in touch with FOSC. When he was 16  FOSC found him a place at another school. They paid for his accommodation and fees, and once he graduated helped him find work. He is now employed on a building site as a roofer.

Help fund FOSC and the excellent work they do by buying tickets to  FASCINATING AIDA’S  concert for street children. Only 6 days to go. Still a few tickets left.

FASCINATING AIDA

with Massive Violins

At the New 20th Century Theatre, 291 Westbourne Grove, London W11 2QA
7.30 p.m. 3rd December 2012
Tickets £40. Includes white wine and smoked salmon.

RESERVATIONS 0208 994 854

All proceeds to the care of homeless children in Africa. Romilly’s Foundation pays no European salaries

From Street Orphan to High School Graduate

Christopher Mulenga of Friends of Street Children (FOSC) in Kitwe, Zambia has sent me this picture of Mateo, graduating from Chiwala High School.

Mateo arrived on the  streets, an orphan, at the age of 7 in 1999. This was at the time of conflict in Zaire just across the border. Neither his origins nor the burial place of his parents were ever discovered, though a family in a nearby town claimed him as a relative. This did not stop Mateo ending up back on the street again. Later he was befriended by an old man. He too dumped Mateo on the street. Very early on in his street life Mateo attended the open air street corner classes run by FOSC. Later FOSC took him into one of their homes and sponsored him through school. Mateo worked hard and has graduated from high school.  His ambition is to become a lawyer and a role model for those that find themselves in the same position as he did when he was 7.

Mateo on High School Graduation day

Help support FOSC and the good work they do. Come to Romilly’s Concert, where Fascinating Aida and Massive Violins will be performing, 3rd December, Westbourne Grove, W11. Tickets from Tim and Lizzie Drake 0208 994 8544.