Ulingana means ‘equalling out’ in Chichewa. A chance meeting between a traveller in Africa with no agenda, and a six year old deaf girl who steals his heart.

Ulingana is a platform set up by Tony Sugden, to raise funds for a project in Eastern Province Zambia.  It was an idea conceived when he met a young, profoundly deaf Zambian girl, Ketty. Deaf from birth in fact, she is the daughter of a friend he’d made in Zambia. Ketty was only six years old at that time, but precociously intelligent with an impish humour and astonishing ‘aliveness’. Tony saw how few prospects people have in this part of the world because of financial hardship. With permission from Ketty’s mother, Alice, he started to raise funds for her schooling, and a beautiful story started to unfold…..

This is a fundraising site, but it’s purpose is not to persuade people to be parted with their money! The project was initially supported only by Tony, then more friends got involved. Always with the intent that people would donate if they were touched by the story. And many were, and are.

Tony graduated as a microbiologist with special interest in ecosystems. He changed career from academic research to freelance business systems analysis, earning big money, until he realised he wanted to redress inequality in the world, not add to it!

‘I wanted to do something for my fellow humans before I got too old. Chance and circumstance led me to an NGO in Eastern Zambia. I forgot about “doing things to help” and started learning about the environment, the people and their culture. Much has been damaged by the years of colonisation, then the missionaries. But somehow most people have an easy joy of life that we’re in danger of losing in the West. I began to learn.’

‘Then I met Ketty. Profoundly deaf since birth and therefore having no speech, somehow we had a communication from the start and we became firm friends! A six year old girl and a sixty-something year-old guy. Ketty’s mother Alice was becoming a friend (it takes a while for people to start to trust you and find out that you’re not someone who’s going to do some helpful project that nobody wants and is a waste of time and money…. look up “voluntourism”), so that’s how I found out that Ketty had no prospects of an education as Alice’s wage was insufficient to pay for the deaf school. I tentatively asked if she needed a sponsor….. the rest is history and the start of beautiful deepening friendships.’

You can follow the story of the project
by selecting the category ‘Ketty’ from
the menu at the top of the page.