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Friday, 14 October 2016

Going viral?

Is our Scottish Government Small Grant project on 'Strengthening emergency care communications in Chitambo District, Zambia' going viral?  Partners are attending 3 global health conferences in one week and presenting at 2.   These conferences are:
Consider (In-country Project Coordinator) and Vincent (Information Officer) will be delivering the following paper at the AHILA conference on Wednesday 19th October: Ugandan confernece paper

This will be to an erudite international audience of health librarians and information scientists.  Friends of Chitambo Chair/Grant Lead, Jo, will be delivering the same paper to the ZUKHWA audience (which includes the Zambian High Commissioner, Lord Crisp, and the Zambian Permanent Secretary for Health!) on the same day, at a very slightly later time.

We are investigating ways of linking up by WhatsApp, so that Consider and Vincent can deliver their paper themselves to the London as well as the Ugandan audience. 

We will all, simultaneously, also be presenting the following project poster:Click here for the poster

Conference photos to follow.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

NIDOS Annual Conference: Scotland for a Fairer World

2 Trustees attended the NIDOS ( conference, 'Scotland for a Fairer World', on Thursday 29th September, Pollock Halls of Residence, University of Edinburgh: Click here for the conference programme

This was an opportunity to meet the new Scottish Minister for International Development, Alasdair Allan, MSP; to hear about the new NIDOS strategy 'Envisions 2020'; to vote in a new name for NIDOS (SINDA: Scottish International Development Association); to network with like minded people...but most of all to witness our Friend of Chitambo (Foch) Trustee, Agnes, being 'inaugurated' as a Trustee of NIDOS/SINDA.

Ba Agnes inaugurated as NIDOS Trustee
This was  a very proud moment for Foch as we now have 2 African Diaspora committee members in positions within Scotland's top International Development organisations.  Earlier in the year, our Acting Treasurer, Olu, who is originally from Nigeria, was appointed to a finance post at the Scotland Malawi Partnership (SMP), and now Agnes as a NIDOS Trustee. 

It was also thrilling to hear the Minister recognising Scotland's close historical links with Zambia, including that although Dr. David Lvingstone is often associated with Malawi, he actually spent more of his life in what is now Zambia, and died Chitambo.  Well, at Old Chitambo (Chipundu, where the Livingstone monument is).  Chitambo Hospital was built in his memory, 100 miles away in less malarial territory...and still going today.  You'll not I do not say 'still going strong' because  that's the rub.  Despite it's huge historical connections with Scotland, Chitambo Hospital remains totally under resourced today.

The Minister particularly asked to meet groups which had Scottish Government Small Grant funds for projects in countries other than Malawi.  Scotland has a 'special relationship' with Malawi and the Minister is off to Malawi this week.  Hopefully he will be visiting  Zambia is amongst the 4 new partner countries to be supported by Scottish Government funding: Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda, and Pakistan.  Click here for the Ministerial announcement: Ministerial announcement

The conference ended with an evening reception, including wonderful African storytelling and singing from Zawadi Choir.  The morale of one story was 'be careful what bones you throw out of your window'.  A woman, making soup, unthinkingly chucked the soup bone out of the window, unwittingly escalating full scale war between 2 villages.  A salutary lesson for us all?

Zawadi Choir entertains us

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

This is why

Please see this sad news on the Mwebantu Facebook page:

A bad accident on the Mansa Road, in Chitambo District, has left 3 people dead and others, including a child, seriously injured.  Victims were apparently rushed to Mpelembe Rural Health Clinic (RHC), the nearest health facility.

Mpelembe is the biggest of Chitambo District's 3 'hard to reach' clinics in the Bangwelu Swamps, where David Livingstone died.  The other 2 are Gibson and Chipundu.

They have no mobile phone connectivity and depend on dysfunctional radios to make contact with the hospital (100 miles away on terrible roads) in case of such emergencies.  So how it was possible to rush injured people there is a mystery and, once there, they would face a 6 hour delay before an ambulance could get them to under-resourced, understaffed Chitambo District Hospital.

They might then face another 200 to 300 mile transfer to provincial or central emergency care services.  What are their chances? 

This is exactly why we are supporting Chitambo partner's ambition to strengthen emergency care communications in this remote and rural area.  High frequency digital radios are desperately needed at the 3 above mentioned 'hard to reach' clinics.  They cost in the region of £2,500 each.  We have raised enough for one but any help with raising the other 2 would be greatly appreciated. 

Please see our Total Giving donations button on this page, if you think you can help

We are 3!

Our AGM marked our 3rd birthday and we were in party mood, celebrating our many achievements over the year.

11  people, (7 committee members and 4 visitors), attended the meeting in the community  room at the Penicuik Library, Midlothian, Scotland.

10 people attended in person and one Shadow Trustee, Chola, attended by WhatsApp phone link when we were unable to access Skype.

 Chola is a nurse based in England.  However, he is from Chitambo originally and is dedicated to supporting the charity in whatever ways possible.

On his recent re-visit to Zambia, he joined forces with Consider , In-country Project Coordinator for our Scottish Government Small Grant project, on conducting a very successful Monitoring and Evaluation visit for the project (See our previous post on this below).

Of our 4 visitors, 2 are members and one has now opted to become one.  The former are Dr. and Mrs  Moffat.  Dr. Moffat is the grandson of David Livingston's nephew, Malcolm Moffat, who founded Chitambo Hospital (pictured).  The Moffats came with their South African cousin, who now is lives with them. 
216 AGM: Committee members and visitors

Ba Mayo Margaret, Trustee, with FoCh banner

The 4th visitor is a local gentleman who knows Zambia well, having lived and worked there, and was interested to hear more about our charity work. 

Click here for the Chair's report and Presentation: Chair's Report & Presentation

A particular thank you to our External Examiner, Ngemi, for agreeing our annual accounts. 
We are most grateful for his expert services.

And a  very big thank you to all our other Trustees, Members, Friends and Supporters who are contributing to making a difference at Chitambo, Zambia

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