Wilo UK has formed a relationship with Village School Improvement Project – Zambia – a Somerset-based charity that provides educational opportunities for children in the Eastern Province of Zambia in southern Africa. The initial gift to the charity was a box of the famous Wilo rucksacks, which a number of schoolchildren in Zambia now have and use on the way to and from school every day.
David Hawkins runs the family charity, having grown up in Zambia for many years as a child. He recently returned to Zambia with his family and was somewhat surprised and shocked to see the poor quality and rudimentary nature of the educational facilities available for youngsters in the Eastern Province – the poorest and most poverty-stricken area of the country.
David said: “We are really grateful for any help we can get from companies in the UK and Europe to aid our efforts and this initial link with Wilo is very welcome. We currently pay for six trainee teachers, a night security, stationery and as a result of fund raising, will in August begin extending, renovating and equipping the school library.
“Later in the year we will begin doing the same to the existing classrooms. It would be fair to say that we are hopeful that we might be able to persuade companies in the UK to help us, even if in a small way, to provide some major improvements in the educational opportunities currently available in this part of Zambia.”
He went on to add: “Due to very tight family budgets hundreds of girl pupils lose five days a month of schooling as a result of the lack of feminine hygiene products. This has a huge impact on their educational progress. Compounded by the fact that girls rank below boys as family assets, their lack of progress at school means that they are taken out of school and in most cases married off as child brides. Only 34.1% of girls continue their education after primary level.
“To maintain the girls school attendance, we pay for reusable sanitary products that are given to those girls that require them. These five towel kits, that last for two years, are manufactured locally and as such create local employment.
“It is slightly tragic that in this day and age, this is a necessary frontline support that even needs consideration.”
Wilo’s Marketing Manager, Morgan Warren-Ross, added: “We were pleased to be able to help in such a small way initially but having learned more about the charity and the work it does, we would like to be able to get even more involved and are currently exploring ways in which we can help David and his team. It’s not a charity that we feel would be fair for us to support alone – and as such would welcome any other company’s willingness to utilise their own charity support mechanisms to get in touch with David direct and offer whatever support they felt able to give.
“Ironically because Zambia is a peaceful country, it gets far less help and attention than those countries in Africa that are suffering wars and famine, and whilst we all understand the importance of providing support that keeps people alive day to day, the needs of the continent are many and varied and it falls to small charities like David’s to make a difference in a corner of the world that is basically ignored by the bigger charities.”
You can find out more about the work of the charity at www.vsip-zambia.com