Betty Jane Cameron is pictured with staff and students of Kawambwa school as they receive new musical instruments provided by Inverness County friends.

Three Inverness County Cares (ICC) members and the Chalice (chalice.ca) African team began their journey to two of the Chalice/ICC sponsored schools in Zambia.

They departed on Wednesday, January 15 at 5 a.m. and reached the first school on the following Saturday. To reach their initial destination in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, they took a total of five flights. On reaching Lusaka, they met with the regional African Chalice audit team, then took a small 20-seater Mahogany Airlines two-hour flight to Mansa and from there took ground transportation for 3.5 hours to Kawambwa. To reach the second school, they had to maneuver past herds of goats and crowds of people as they detoured by impassable roads to reach their destination 6.5 hours later. It should be noted that ICC members who visited Zambia personally covered all their own travel and personal expenses.

John McInnis, Charlotte Rankin and Betty Jane Cameron were warmly welcomed by the students and staff at the Kawambwa site. The 17 staff is a remarkable group of teachers – two are albino, two are totally blind, two are sighted and the rest of the teachers are visually impaired.

The students range from 4-years-old to Grade 9. They are housed in dormitories where they are loved and protected by house parents in each building. The dorms are very basic with few of the amenities expected in our world. Simple hygiene supplies we take for granted such as water, tooth brushes, toilet paper, soap, footwear and suitable clothing are luxuries.

The primary priority for all students is care and concern for each other, mobility in their environment and a knowledge of Braille.

This is a picture of Grade 10 boys who have started studies in a large sighted secondary school far from Kawambwa. Inverness County Cares members visited and gave them gifts from Canada.

Although John, Betty Jane and Charlotte noted a sense of a security and happiness in the schools, they came to understand that the children and adults are all vulnerable in the wider community and face ongoing challenges. They spoke personally to a teacher who recounted his constant fear of abduction and the lack of safety in in his own home, (outside the school compound) especially at night.

Sr. Agnes, head of the St Mary’s Special School for the Visually Impaired in Kawambwa, was delighted to receive the instruments purchased with the over $2,000 donated by Inverness County friends. The school bought four guitars, two violins, one keyboard, 10 recorders, one drum, and two sets of spoons, plus cases, strings, a tuner and adapters.

Children of all ages and about 12 teachers all had the opportunity to learn the basics, and two music teachers are confident in carrying on the program. Betty Jane compiled large print books (because of visual impairment) and huge, colourful posters to support the music program. Thanks to so many who contributed and who supported us with prayers and good wishes.

These four little girls in Grades 1 and 2 were playing and wanted to have their picture together.

ICC welcomes new members to our monthly meeting where members exchange ideas, become informed on current developments and continue to work toward fundraising goals for the year.

Individuals who wish to donate can use the donate button on our Web site at: http://invernesscountycares.com, or send a cheque to Inverness County Cares, Box 99, Judique, NS, B0E1P0. Tax receipts will be provided. For more information contact John Gillies at 902-787-3441, John MacInnis at 902-787-2475 or Colleen MacDonald MacLeod at 902-787-2251.