Sunday, 23 August 2015

Scenes from the Penicuik Summer Street Fair 2015

Support for FoCh from the 2015 Penicuik Hunter and Lass, town Principles 
Margaret Coull, Master stall holder/baker
Gillian Little, Master stall holder/baker
Jo Vallis...gardener!

Richard Vallis, staunch supporter,  presiding over Margaret and Gillian's home baking;
Janet's marmalade; Jo's jam...and other things

Garden produce packaged for sale
Substantial funds were raised, once again, towards 2 further student nurse scholarships.

Farming for Chitambo!

Many Zambians are excellent farmers, growing wonderful fresh vegetables for subsistence purposes.  That is admirable since farming is very hard work and it is one thing growing veg for pleasure and quite another when people's lives depend on a good harvest.  Zambian maize harvests are predicted to be poor in 2015, due to poor rainfall.  Since maize is Zambia's staple diet, this has implications for food security in some part of the country.

There is no comparison between Zambian crop yields and a little amateur gardening at West Street, Penicuik (Scottish FoCh HQ).  That said, and despite our abysmal UK summer, results of this gardening were modestly good  this year (Pictured below).  No shortage of rain in Penicuik, of course.  Quite the opposite!  Is all this strange weather down to global warming and, if so, what are the implications for both Scotland and Zambia and what can be done about it?



 Broad beans



Blackcurrants turned to jam

This produce went on sale at our street market stall on Saturday 23rd August 2015, and contributed to sales (See the next post for details).

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Knitting for Chitambo

Penicuik, Scotland, has got talent!  Serious knitting talent, and is bringing this to bear on supporting work at Chitambo Hospital.

Two Friends of Chitambo are involved: Mrs. Maureen Brown and Miss Margaret Coull.

Maureen, from Cape Town, South Africa, originally, is a Master Knitter.  She knits night and day and her living room is a colourful Aladin's cave of brightly coloured wool, some of which has been turned into giant polar bears, teddies and African parrots which Maureen sells at local craft fares.  However, on this occasion, she is turning her considerable talent to making baby clothes and blankets for donation to Chitambo Hospital.

Mrs. Maureen Brown, Master Knitter, with a baby blanket for Chitambo

Exquisite baby cardigans and jumpers

These will be taken to Chitambo by a Scottish delegation which is travelling there in September 2015, and they are bound to be greatly welcomed by mothers and babies who make up the bulk of the in-patient population.  Maureen, we cannot thank you enough for your immensely generous effort.  Natotela sana mukwai (thank you very much, in the local ciBemba).  As an African yourself, you know full well what a difference this will make.

Margaret, a retired Primary School Teacher, is also an accomplished knitter.  She is a longstanding Friend of Chitambo and Penicuik Mayo (Mother) and also involves herself in many other local activities, including the Mother's Union, which is 'big' in Zambia:

One of the MU's activities is knitting baby hats for pre-term and other babies and this is to our advantage since Margaret has a surplus of small hats she has knitted.

Margaret's tiny pre-term baby hats

These will also be travelling to Chitambo in September and should make a very nice compliment to Maureen's jumpers and blankets.  Thank you again Margaret.  You are, as always, a staunch and loyal supporter.  

In addition, Mrs. Gillian Little, another local Friend of Chitambo and Penicuik Mayo, is providing baby grows for taking to Chitambo.  Thank you very much Gillian, Margaret and Maureen.  These are wonderful donations and will make a real difference.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Recruiting for Chitambo School of Nursing's 3rd Intake

As First Intake prepares to graduate on 11th September 2015, staff at Chitambo School of Nursing are  very busy preparing for a week of interviewing for their 3rd intake, to start in 2016.  To say that the work of the school is growing would be an understatement.  Not only is it growing but, as hoped at the outset, it is having a knock-on effect on wider community regeneration.  A Zambian newspaper article describes how unemployed youth are gaining valuable building experience and skills through helping to construct the new student hostels (see below).  This has positive implications for their future job opportunities, which can only be good.

New hostels underway

Sunday, 9 August 2015

More miracles!

Friday 7th August was a day of miracles for Friends of Chitambo. Jo and Richard Vallis travelled to Dundee to collect 2 fine laptops from Mr. Winston Flynn, who lives near Dundee and works at Perth College, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands. Winston is a Technical Officer there and is skilled in all aspects of computing work. As his young son, Winston Jnr, said, "There's nothing he can't fix"!  
Winston has very thoughtfully prepared the two used laptops for use in Zambia and has also thrown in 7 used Nokia Smartphone handsets. This brings us to a total of 5 used laptops and, with 3 existing ones, 10 used Smartphone handsets...only 2 short of the 12 needed to provide one to each of the Chitambo Rural Health Clinics. All this will go a long ways to  improving  emergency care communications in the Chitambo District and will help to save lives.

Natotela sana mukwai (THANK YOU) Ba Winston and everyone else who has helped...Professor Jean Kerr, University of Dundee, and Drs. Geoff and Chris Vallis (University of Exeter, and Newcastle respectively), for their very generous donations.

Winston was at work when we called at his home on Friday. However, his wife, Cecilia (a nurse), handed over the donations...aided by their 2 delightful young sons, Winston Jnr. and Jason. These children are a tribute to Zambian upbringing...charming, polite and welcoming. The presence of this Zambian family in the Dundee area is certainly an asset.

Ba Cecelia presents the laptops                        

A few of the Nokia Smartphone handsets            

Winston and Cecilia have big hearts and are keen to help their native Zambia in any way they can. They have already made generous donations to disability and education projects in Central Province. With their combined (nursing and IT skills) they have much to offer. However, with a growing young family they are short on time. That is our gain since they have expressed willing to help us in any way they can and I am delighted to say that they are joining Friends of Chitambo. Mwaiseni mukwai! We welcome you aboard.

After visiting the Flynn family, Richard and I pressed on to the University of Dundee to collect our second consignment of donations from the Clinical Skills Centre at the Medical School. Centre Manager, Gill Keith, was on holiday but had arranged for collection of medical and nursing textbooks from Dr. George Hogg, a lecturer in the department, and some teaching models, mainly of an obstetric nature. These are great gifts thank you and thanks also to Mr. Richard Barnes, a technician in the Centre, who assisted with transporting a packed trolley to our waiting car.

                                                                             Huge books!

            Obstetric models                   


    Mr. Richard Barnes helps with a barrow load!

On return home, another box of books was waiting in our woodpile!  They were from Ruth Aird, a local Community Nurse, who runs an organisation called Holding Hands with Charities, which collects surplus medical stock and makes it available for redistribution through charities like ours.  The books included 6 recent British National Formularies (BNF), which are bound to be useful at Chitambo.  

  BNF from 'Holding Hands with Charities', Edinburgh (read about what they do here:

Thank you very much indeed Ruth, especially when you are so busy preparing for a humanitarian trip to Romania.

Our world is full of miracles and angels!

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The best news is.....

The best news, just in today, is that the first 2 student nurses sponsored by Friends of Chitambo have passed their final exams and are now fully qualified nurses!  We offer our heartiest congratulations to the students and their teachers for this real achievement.  It will make a huge difference to the  live of these underprivileged students and their abilities to support their families.  It will also make a big difference to upscaling of nursing workforce in Zambia.  That can only be good.

The Chitambo School of Nursing's First Student Intake, of 27 students, graduate on 11th September 2015.  Jo Vallis, Coordinator, Fiends of Chitambo has been invited to the graduation ceremony so please watch this space for the photographs.

It's raining used laptops!

An appeal for used laptops for Chitambo resulted first in 2 offers from Dundee.  The first was from Professor Jean Kerr, Professor of Medical Education.  The laptops were presented at the Clinical Skills Centre at the Medical School, Ninewells Hospital Dundee (Pictured):

Left to right: Prof. Jean Kerr, Professor of Medical Education; Dr. Jo Vallis, Coordinator, Friends of Chitambo; Professor M. Smith, Dean of Nursing; Dr. Ben Shippey, Director, Clinical Skills Centre; Gill Keith, Centre Manager

Professor Kerr and colleagues have also offered medical books and teaching equipment from the Clinical Skills Centre.

The second offer was from Scottish Zambia Partnership (SCOZAP) member Mr.Winston Flynn, who works in ICT at Perth College.  He very kindly sourced 2 used laptops and has prepared these for use in Zambia.

Two members of the Vallis family have also sent 2 MacBooks.  So we currently have a total of 6 good laptops to take to Zambia in September 2015, on our reciprocal project visit.

Heartfelt thanks to all who have helped.  You are making such a difference. 

We are also appealing for used smartphone handsets for use with our emergency care project's mobile phone 'hotline'.

Great publicity links

We are very fortunate that both NHS Education for Scotland Publicity Officers, Jen MacColgan and MaryJo Obrien, and our Friend of Chitambo Patron, Julie Davidson (Author and Journalist), provided great publicity for Levi and Consider's UK visit.

Jan and MaryJo issued a press release and attracted this article in the Midlothian Advertiser:

Julie re-sent the press-release to her journalistic contacts at the Edinburgh Evening News, resulting in this article:

Julie has also submitted an article to the Church of Scotland Magazine, Life and Work.  It will be published in the September 2015 issue.

Thank you very much to these colleagues and to the newspapers for these valuable contributions.

Zambian partners exchange visit to Scotland

Courtesy of our Scottish Government Small Grant award, Mr. Levi Chifwaila, Senior Nurse Tutor, Chitambo School of Nursing, and Mr. Consider Mudenda, Director of the Zambian Research and Development Technology Academy (ZRDTA), travelled to Scotland (June 2015) for a packed programme of events.  Read all about it in our report Clik here for the visit report and photos