…that’s the worst bit over…

A couple of days ago, Alice and I sat down with Ketty, armed with pictures of Magwero school, maps,dsc02164 pictures to explain that I had to return to the UK in 2 months. Purpose… to tell her she was going to school, AND she was going to stay there during term time.

Gulp, I was dreading it. Some days Ketty is so small and vulnerable and needy I thought she might completely freak at the idea. ‘We can always delay until next year’, I said to Alice. ‘No’, was the reply, ‘She has to go, she needs this’. Alice is made of sterner stuff than I, fortunately.

dscf0467I showed her the first picture of Magwero. She broke into a huge smile, pointing at herself, questioning. Yes, we nodded. She was so excited, then made the ‘sleeping’ sign questioning again. ‘Yes’ we said, you’ll stay there.

So that was cool. My concerns dissipated in a moment! I showed her all the school stuff I’d brought, school bags, exercise books, pens, sleeping bag, etc, and scenes of delight and excitement. Cool. That’s that bit done. I’ll do a post when we’ve taken her there next week.

 

 

 

 



Zambia 2, getting ready for school ?

So here I am again, back in Zambia Eastern Province, at the end of a long and gruelling year for the people here. Drought and famine have cast a shadow over some, especially out in the bush. President -elect Trump tells us that global warming is a myth; I’d love for him to come and see the real world, live like these guys do for a few months. But here at the community centre people are ever cheerful, loving, supportive of each other, and greeted me like a long awaited brother. And these last 2 days, the rains have started…fantastic… so we hope at least there will be crops this year.

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Ketty was very happy to see me. Now she’s got over the initial euphoria of having her personal muzungu (white guy) slave, she’s really bossing me about!! I can take it. We’re doing a bit of artwork most days, along with just playing, enjoying the environment. She learns really quickly, very acutely intelligent, learned the camera in a few minutes and went round taking pics of all the other kids. They tend to look on her as a strange one because she has no language and just makes noises, but with the camera she became the boss, ordering them into formation to take pictures. Hilarious to watch her suddenly bossing them around!

Her mum, Alice, and I went into the local town yesterday to buy school stuff. The place is different to our nice tidy streets and shops. Stalls line dirt streets with music blaring at max, and people staring at the white guy. But I’m ok, I’m accepted because I’m with Alice so I meet people and …suddenly…the place is friendly and fun. A tailor shop to buy school uniform has the tailors sitting at their sewing machines in the shop front. I love this place.

I gave Ketty a soft toy, cuddly dog that she now sleeps cuddled up to, and tomorrow I will give her the skipping rope that Bryony bought for her.

More pics and story soon.

love to all, Tony

A good year!

Ketty, bless ‘er

What starts out being a project to help others, becomes another way for life to bring joy to you. The Goddess of the World says, ‘don’t think you can help my children. That task is mine to administer as I please and you will never understand my ways for I am the chaos and order of Nature, in all her beauty. But for having that wish, I bless you again and again’.

This is NOT a post about prospects for this year’s Chianti producers. It’s to celebrate my first ever year of trying to fundraise. I’ve learned a lot. What have I learned?

Don’t treat your friends like oranges, from whom you can periodically squeeze out some more money.

Talking of fruit, don’t be attached to the fruits of your actions. It’s hard not to, but such is the path of karma yoga. The lesson learned will vastly increase the joy in one’s life. What starts out being a project to help others, becomes another way for life to bring joy to you. The Goddess of the World says, ‘don’t think you can help my children. That task is mine to administer as I please and you will never understand my ways for I am the chaos and order of Nature, in all her beauty. But for having that wish, I will bless you again and again’.

If you can hang in with that last bit, it’s an instant cure to ‘shining white knight’ syndrome; the belief that you can go and single-handedly effect change in the areas of hardship in the world.

It’s action that matters. That’s all. Words (like these) count for nothing, except to shape and refine the direction for action. ‘Sharing’ sound bytes on social media shows good intent and has been the means to generate change for the better, no doubt. But it’s useless without action. Doing something.

the Banks exist to increase misery in the world… they will do everything they can to ensure that they, the Banks, profit from anyone’s attempt to help their sisters and brothers. They are snakes, feigning interest in your story whilst looking for more ways to rob you.

Lastly, the Banks exist to increase misery in the world. And most importantly, if you’re a fundraiser trying to transfer funds to Africa, they get very protective about money laundering. I suppose they think that’s their prerogative. They will do everything they can to ensure that they, the Banks, profit from anyone’s attempt to help their sisters and brothers. They are snakes, feigning interest in your story whilst looking for more ways to rob you.


So I have enough funds in place to get Ketty through first year at Magwero School for the Deaf, and for Alice to get to visit a couple of times each term. And the foundation for starting next year’s saving. When I started out in March this year, I had nothing but a plan. Now I have fruition, beautiful. I’m about to go out to Africa to spend three months with my friends, and to do some painting and artwork with Ketty, before she goes for her first school term in January. Thanks to all who contributed. Not just for your money, more for your goodwill, your trust that something good is happening here.

It’s been a Good Year.

Love, Tony

Thanks for all the help!!

IMG_0955Thanks so much to the people who’ve donated to help me in this delightful project. With two really generous donations, I’m close to what we need for Ketty’s first year at Magwero school for Deaf Children. You cannot begin to imagine what this means for her and Alice, her mum. A future! My plan is to build up a fund for her 12 years of schooling, and at the mo, I haven’t even got enough for the first year. I can put the extra in, but things will be tight!!

So if you’re inspired by this lovely story and want to give a donation, then brilliant! Thanks so much. I’ll be taking the money to Zambia soon, and going with them to take Ketty for her first term. The money we need is so paltry by our standards…£55 ($70 US) pays for an ENTIRE TERM including food and boarding! £30 ($38) pays for a round trip for Alice to visit (Ketty is only 7, and her first time away from home).

I’m doing my bit! Not just sitting here asking others for money… I’m not rich at all!, so I’ve been living on £20 (appr $30 US)  a week for the past several months (I’m vegetarian so it’s possible to live well & healthily and I don’t go out!!). But still my concern is, I should have a fund built up in case I die before she’s finished her education. And I will start to sell off possessions that I don’t really need. So I WILL get there.

It’s strange because this is not a very regular fundraising project. I actually only want money which comes with love, and a real wish to help me to help Ketty. I loved the wee lass from first meeting her… and it was a hard parting when I had to come back to England,  but I do understand that you’re one step further away.

Thanks, love to you all, Tony

If you’d like to, you can donate here.

Magwero School for the Deaf

magwero 4This post is what the fundraising for my young friend Ketty is all about. This is the school which holds our future hopes. Difference between an education, and zero prospects for a young deaf girl who is not understood by anyone in the community except her close relatives.

Magwero school is right on the Zambia – Malawi border, a sprawling collection of buildings at the end of 20 or 30 km of dirt road in a valley that looks suspiciously like Paradise. I mean in a country, a province, where the rains had failed and crops withered, this valley was green, lush, even had a lake!!

Alice asked me to go and check it out when we were having a boys day out in Chipata, the big town of the province, near the Malawi border. She’d already seen it and hoped that somehow she could find a sponsor to pay the fees. Although we just rolled up without any appointment (well…this is Africa), I had a long talk with Nora, the principal and she accepted Ketty on the basis of the hospital records confirming her total deafness.

People from western schools would think the amenities very basic. But things here are different, the kids here want to learn! They know that without education they’re sunk. And most of them are used to sleeping on a mat on the ground and eating basic nutritious food. I love the life here in Zambia, prefer it to Europe (though my old bones would have a problem sleeping on the ground, I’m used to a mattress).

So Ketty will board during term time, but she’ll only be seven by the time she starts and that’s young. So I want to raise enough to pay for at least two trips during each term for Alice to go and visit. Sounds like they do lots of activity stuff though, as well as learning ASL (American sign language), English, and a comprehensive education like children with hearing.

COSTS

These are the current costs. They may go up in  January 2017 when Ketty starts. Which may not affect us. Why? Because the Zambian economy is in a bad way and the Kwacha falls against most other currencies. The fees are set at a meeting between the Principal, and the parents later this year. I’m in regular contact with Nora, vice-Principal, currently acting Principal.

£160                  Tuition fees, accommodation and food (! no there’s no mistake here.)

£55                   ‘Groceries’ – means stuff like toiletries and extras (my estimate)

£370                 Travel has to be taxi, there are no buses as it’s way out in the bush past Chipata. So There and back each of the three terms is 6 x £31. Then Alice has to be able to visit at least twice a term, so another 6 trips. The driver is a friend, so he will keep the price as good as he can for us.

Grand total  = £585 per year

So 12 years = £7020   that’s what we’re aiming for.

If you’d like to donate to help me with fees, please go to the donate page from the menu. Thanks.


Climbing Everest barefoot for charity (not)

climbing Everest barefoot.... not much further
climbing Everest barefoot…. not much further

People doing fundraising often do some challenge. My friend Bryony (who is involved in the charitable website ‘ulingana’ with me) has just run a half marathon. But she’s young! And my knee cartilage (skiing legacy!) will not allow me to run.

I could spend money to raise money (!) by …say….jumping out of an aeroplane dressed only in a furry rabbit suit, or climbing Everest barefoot without oxygen.

But I have a great idea that will actually add money to the fund, and avoid those irritating side effects of such ventures, like broken back or pulmonary oedema.

I WILL EAT VERY simply and live on £20 pounds a week. I will eat like my friends in Zambia do. They live on about a dollar a day. The cost of living here is much higher but I’m vegetarian so should be easy. No going out; I ‘m a recluse anyway, but this also means no going across to the yoga ashram in Wales. No chocolate, no ice cream, no luxuries at all. Basic food, rice, dahl, veg. Fruit if I can afford it. Solidarity with my sisters & brothers!

(I’ve sent out £200 to my friend Musa in Zambia, so his & Ketty’s families can buy enough maize to survive this year as the harvest failed. Again. People living too far out in the bush won’t even get hunger help. Some of them will die of starvation).

Swami Nischalananda Saraswati said to me a year ago that the way to get through the place where I was stuck in my yogic progress, was to go and serve my fellow humans. That’s what I’m trying to do with my life now. And this project arose directly from that. So I appreciate totally that it’s my project and I can’t expect anyone to connect with it in the way I do.

But at the same time, I could really use some help.

If you feel inclined to help, then I, and Alice (Ketty’s mum) thank you from our hearts.

love Tony

ps I have been invited to go and stay in Zambia later this year, so I will be taking Ketty’s first year of school fees as it’s cheaper than doing bank transfers. Also Alice’s first year of taxi charges to get them there (or term if I can’t afford a year) as there are no buses out into the bush!