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Monday, 19 September 2016

AGM 2016

It's that time again.  Where does a year go?!

Join us, virtually or in person, for our Friends of Chitambo AGM:

When? Saturday 1st October 2016, 2-4 pm

Where? The Community Room, Penicuik Library, Carlops Road, PENICUIK, MIDLOTHIAN, SCOTLAND EH26 9PE:

It has been a very exciting year and we look forward to telling you all about it.

Contact Jo Vallis, Chair, for information on joining virtually:

Meantime, a huge thanks to all our regular supporters over the past year.   Mwabombeni mukwai (very well done).  You are making a real difference.

Hope you can join us

Monday, 12 September 2016

Elephant & Baby take 2!

The Penicuik re-run of the Elephant & Baby event (Sunday 11th September, at St. James the Less Episcopal Church) was highly successful. CLICK HERE FOR THE FLYER

Edinburgh GP, Dr. Bridget Innes, gave the sermon, which was on her medical and baby elephant conservation work in Zambia.  This was as part of a world celebration of creation and fauna.  Her talk fitted perfectly  with the theme and was very well received.  It was followed by a Fellowship Lunch in the church hall, in aid of our Friends of Chitambo emergency radio appeal.  As usual, the St. James congregation gave very generously and also enjoyed their soup to the accompaniment of Bridget's colourful slides.

Dr. Bridget gives the sermon
More sermon
Fellowship lunch 1

Fellowship lunch 2


 Thank you very much to all concerned!

Heady stuff

On Monday 6th September, 2 Friends of Chitambo Trustees (Jo and Agnes) took up the opportunity to meet UK Ministers for International Development, who were visiting Scotland.

The meeting was organised by the Network for International Development Organisations of Scotland (NIDOS):

This was a valuable opportunity to hear directly about UK government plans for ongoing Overseas Development Aid (ODA).  It is heartening to hear that they remain committed to  ringfencing 0.7% of GDP for least for now.  It was also good to hear that global links are encouraged and that, in Wales, each NHS Board has appointed a Champion for this.  It is hoped that Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland will follow this example.

The Scottish Goernment has announced a fresh round of Small Grant funding for international development:

We are in talks with top Zambian and Scottish emergency care/medical experts about extending our current Small Grant project on 'Strengthening emergency care communications in Chitambo District'.  Please see our conference poster for some preliminary results: CLICK HERE FOR THE POSTER

The Zambian Ministry of Health (MOH) is enabling access to the free national shortcode for health (992) to all Chitambo District citizens, so that they can call for help free  of charge in case of emergency.  This is a huge step forward for desperate people in this remote, rural region.

Building on the project would entail, for example,  strengthening the current emergency care resource centre, established by this project, at Chitambo Hospital; monitoring the uptake and usage of the shortcode by the community; contributing to improving the emergency radio infrastructure, as far as possible; and providing simulated call handling and first aid training for clinical staff and ambulance drivers.

More soon.

Summer Street Fair 2016: Best stall award!

Great news!  This year we won the 'Best stall' certificate at the annual Penicuik Street  Fair (27th August 2016), awarded by the Penicuik Community Council!  Great publicity for our fast growing little African charity.

The day dawned bright and clear as the usual 4 stalwarts (Margaret, Gillian, Agnes and Jo) gathered in the Penicuik precinct to 'man' the stall.  This is one of our main fundraising events and it is a lot of work:  assembling the goods; transporting them to the site early enough to secure the best table slots; serving all day on the stall day; clearing up afterwards; and distributing the many raffle prizes far and wide.   We advertised for volunteers to help with future events and obtained a couple of notes of interest.  Meantime, heartfelt thanks to the current trusty team.

Raffle prizes included donations from successful local businesses: Giovannis Bistro; The Best Seller; and castle Warehouse.  A HUGE thanks to them too.  We really value your support and it is making a big difference in remote and rural Chitambo District, Zambia.

Proceeds are going towards a high frequency digital radio for Mpelembe Rural Health Clinic.  Please see our contribution to the Penicuik newsletter for details: CLICK HERE

This article has, amazingly, attracted a large scale donation from someone with Zambian connections.  They wish to remain anonymous but a HUGE thanks to them too.  This will really help the emergency radio cause, and will save lives.

Stall setting up
Team Chitambo (L to R Margaret, Gillian, Agnes, and Jo)
Ba Agnes displaying her Zambian crafts


Penicuik Hunter and Lass (Town Principals) support Friends of Chitambo
Jo receives the 'best stall' certificate

Monday, 29 August 2016

Monitoring & Evaluation visit to Chitambo

Congratulations to Zambian members of our Scottish Government Small Grant Team, Mr. Consider Mudenda, In-country Project Lead; Mr. Chola Mwelwa, Friends of Chitambo (Foch) Trustee and project Steering Group member; Mr. Vincent Kole, Chitambo Knowledge Consultant; and Mr. Levison Chifwaila, Clinical Consultant, for conducting a very successful monitoring and evaluation (M&E) visit at Chitambo last week (22nd to 26th August 2016).

The visit included meetings with key Chitambo Hospital and Rural Health Clinic staff; hearing about progress towards implementation of the free Zambian  national shortcode number for health (992); conducting upwards of 20 interviews on health workers' use of the knowledge resources provided by the project; assessing usage of some of the Information and Computer (ICT) devices also provided;  and meeting members of some Neighbourhood Health Committees regarding feedback on uptake and usage of the shortcode once it is in place.

Mr. Mwelwa, a nurse based in Chesterfield, England, is from Chitambo, his home village.  Opportunely, he was paying a visit home at the time of the M&E visit, with his wife and 12-year-old son Mumba.  Ba Chola kindly carried a conference poster for Consider and Vincent to deliver, along with a full paper, at the AHILA conference in Kampala, Uganda (October  2016), along with a USB stick containing a medical e-library, for the Chitambo Hospital emergency care resource centre provided by this project.  The e-library was donated by Scottish NGO MCAI:

Chola is also carrying the completed evaluation forms back to the UK for analysis, in due course.

We will be writing reports but Consider has provided some great photos including some in which young Mumba kindly obliges by modelling both a Friends of Chitambo sponsored Life Wrap ( and riding an ambulance bicycle.  The photos otherwise speak for themselves: M&E Visit to Chitambo August 2016&usp=sharing

Mr Mwelwa I presume?

Ba Chola assists with patient transfer

Consider and Chola on tour at Mpelembe

Who could disagree?

Young Mumba models a Life Wrap

Mumba models riding an ambulance bicycle

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Zambia goes to the polls today

Wishing all Zambians the very best for a good and peaceful outcome in today's general elections.
Lesa Amupale

Historic meeting in Chesterfield, England

Friends of Chitambo (FoCh) is full of wonderful surprises including a recent historic meeting between Trustees, in the England Peak District.

Mr. Chola Mwelwa, FoCh Trustee, is from Chitambo but currently living with his family near Chesterfield, England.   Chola and his wife, Loveness, are both nurses in the area.

Jo Vallis, FoCh Chair, and her husband Richard and sister Marion (visiting from New Zealand) took the opportunity to call on the Mwelwa family when visiting their younger sister who lives in the area.

Jo and Richard Vallis with Chola, Loveness and youngest Mwelwa son, Mumba

The Mwelwas' home is situated in a quiet suburb overlooking vast fields of corn.  It was magical to meet the family and sit in their lovely living room drinking tea, eating tumbua (Zambian doughnuts), and reminiscing about Chitambo.

Chola, Loveness and their youngest son, Mumba (pictured in his Zambia shirt), are heading to Zambia this month and are kindly taking some items for us.  These include our grant project conference poster for presentation at the AHILA conference, Uganda, by Zambian partners Vincent and Consider (October 2016).  Items also include a memory stick containing a health e-library, kindly donated by Scottish NGO MACAI:  This is for an emergency care resource centre requested by Chitambo partners and funded by our Scottish Government Small Grant project.

As a project Steering Group member, Chola is invaluable and his visit home to Chitambo provides the ideal opportunity for him to link with In-country Project Lead, Mr. Consider Mudenda, on some project monitoring and evaluation.

The visit to Family Mwelwa also provided the opportunity for a book signing!  Jo Vallis had given Chola a copy of her sister Marion's book 'Livingstone's Hospital: the Story of Chitambo'....a history o Chitambo Hospital.  Chola had been astonished to read about many familiar names and places and requested that Marion sign the book.  This also made her day!

God speed to the Mwelwa family, and especially to young Mumba, who last visited Zambia when he was only 4 years old (8 years ago).  Although he is now a young Englishman, he should be very proud of his Zambian and Chitambo heritage.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

A very successful event

A surprising amount of work goes into organising a simple lunchtime talk!

However, it more than paid off and our Elephant & Baby talk on Saturday 25th June, was a great success. 

Held in Edinburgh's busy Grassmarket area, at the height of the tourist season, it attracted an audience of around 25 varied and interesting people. 

Our aim was fundraising for emergency radios for Chitambo District's hardest to reach  Rural Health Clinics.  These are Mpelembe, Gibson and Chipundu, in the Bangwelu Swamps, where Dr. David Livingstone died: CHITAMBO CLINICS

These clinics have no mobile phone connectivity and rely on faulty old radios to make contact with Chitambo Hospital,  in case of medical emergency.  The multiple delays involved cost lives.

Providing  a high quality digital radio to any one of these clinics will cost around £2,000.  This may see a lot but will be worth the cost because the clinics will then be able to call the hospital direct, rather than going through several intermediary routes.

Batteries and voltage regulators for the digital radios cost an additional £186. 

The Grassmarket Community Centre (CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION)
is the perfect venue for an event, with a sizeable, modern hall and very helpful staff to help the event to run smoothly.  As a charity, we qualified for a substantial reduction in hire fees. 

Refreshments: Our own highly talented and capable Friends of Chitambo (Foch) members and Trustees met our guests and pointed them to tea and coffee.  2 huge boxes of elephant biscuits, donated by Edinburgh Old Town cafĂ© Elephants & Bagels (ELEPHANTS & BAGELS), slipped down very nicely too. 

Biscuits, biscuits!

Information: Trustees pointed guests to a table full of information, books and a sign-up sheet for our mailing list.  The books included copies of Julie's 'Looking for Mrs. Livingstone' and r. Marion Taylor's 'Livingstone's Hospital: the story of Chitambo', which chronicles the history of Chitambo Hospital.

Raffle tickets: Another Foch Trustee plied the guests with raffle tickets and the chance to win a range of prizes, including one whole box of elephant biscuits; a signed copy of our Patron , Julie Davidson's book,  'Looking for Mrs. Livngstone (CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION);  bottle of champagne; and many more options.

Zambian crafts:  We were immensely privileged to have a table full of exquisite Zambia crafts provided, for sale, by our Trustee Agnes Ngulube Holmes.   These attracted a lot of attention. 

Talks: Our main event was Dr. Bridget Innes's talk on her medical work in urban and rural Zambia, and her baby elephant conservation work.  This was enthralling, and was supported by a mass of delightful photographs.  It included an account of her trip to Chitambo, where she accompanied a local health partner on a visit to the remote Chipundu RHC and the David Livingstone monument.
Dr. Bridget  Innes shows a slide of the Chitambo Centenary Ambulance

Bridget's talk was followed by a reading by Julie Davidson reading from her above book, and giving the vote of thanks.  Julie is always an engaging and inspiring speaker and we are so privileged to have her as our Patron.

Julie reads to us
Networking:  This event also provided very rich networking.  A major surprise was that a young Grassmarket centre employee has direct link with Chitambo.  His grandfather was married there!    Hopefully we have a  potential recruit here?

Although buying a compete new radio was beyond our reach last Saturday, we did raised more than enough for a battery and voltage regulator for one clinic.  It's a good start and we are following other routes for the full radio upgrade.

Thank you very much to all who made this possible!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Elephant & Baby

In Scotland's capital in June 2016??
Help us celebrate summer with a wee taste of Africa in central Edinburgh!

Join us at the Grassmarket Community Centre, Edinburgh:

On: Saturday 25th June 2016
At: 1pm
To hear Edinburgh GP, Dr. Bridget Innes, talk about her medical work and baby elephant conservation in rural Zambia
 Book a place on our Eventbrite link: 
This event is by donation to Friends of Chitambo SCIO (Registered Charity No. SC044337).
We support health projects at Chitambo Hospital, central Zambia, where Scottish missionary/explorer Dr. David Livingstone died.  
This particular event supports our Emergency Radio Appeal, to save lives through providing high frequency digital radios to remote, rural clinics.
We look forward to welcoming you.  Crafts, snacks, and some small prizes on offer.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Lighting up Mpelembe Remote Rural Health Clinic

Great news via the Chitambo District Emergency WhatsApp support network!

Mpelembe Rural Health Clinic (RHC) has received a donation of a generator from the Zambian Prevention, Care and Treatment Partnership (ZPCT):

Mpelembe RHC generator

This partnership is funded by the American NGO Family Health International (FHI) 360:

Mpelembe RHC is the biggest of  Chitambo District's 'hard to reach' clinics

 Based in the remote Bangwelu Swamps, where Scottish missionary/explorer Dr. David Livingstone died, it is almost a mini hospital, yet it has no mobile phone connectivity and no electricity.

The clinic is over 100 kilometres from Chitambo Hospital, on bad roads.  In the rainy season (November to March), the roads are flooded and the clinic is all but cut off.

Obstetric emergencies and severe malaria are major medical emergencies in this area.

The generator will make a vast difference to emergency care provision enabling, for example, lighting for night time deliveries as well as for minor surgery, vaccine storage and many other medical needs.

The generator will also complement our Emergency Radio Appeal, which seeks to upgrade existing (solar powered) radios to high frequency digital radios so that Mpelembe and other Chitambo District RHC can call Chitambo Hospital direct, in case of emergency.  This will save lives, particularly  of women in childbirth, who are currently vulnerable to lengthy delays in accessing skilled obstetric help.

America is doing a lot for Chitambo District.  The re-building of the Chitambo School of Nursing was funded via PEPFAR  funding from America (, hence the American Ambassador was the guest of honour at the first graduation ceremony (September 2015):

Mickey and Jackie Baillie, from North Carolina, USA, founded the highly successful Agape Village Foundation orphanage at Chitambo:

Please join us in helping to build on these great achievements to make a real difference in  this remote area of central Zambia

See our Total Giving button  to the right of this page