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Saturday, 18 February 2017

Full circle!

Full circle! Ian Nicol, Scottish Government, reported back on his visit to Zambia at the Zambia UK Health Workforce Alliance (ZUKHWA) meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Tuesday 14th February.  This meeting was to discuss the health needs of Zambia and what Scotland can contribute. 

Ian Nicol with ZUKHWA members

The Zambian Government identified Central Province as the priority for investment and development and, after meeting with Consider in Lusaka, Ian travelled north to Kabwe to meet with Central Province leaders.  He learned that the key health priorities included road traffic accidents, trauma services and environmental health (especially disposal of clinical waste): Click here for the Times of Zambia article

Scottish Government will open a Zambia specific funding round on 9th March and this funding will be for projects in Central Province.  The Chitambo community sent their list of top 10 priorities: Click here

These are mostly building infrastructure needs.  The Zambian Government has allocated new staff to the hospital but they cannot take up post due to a lack of staff housing. 

Also, the historic hospital building, founded in 1908 as a memorial to Dr. David Livingstone who died nearby, is in desperate need of renovations.   The hospital was rebuilt in 1953, by Scottish medical missionary, Dr. John Todd.  This building has stood the test of time but  needs modernisation.

r]Rebuilding Chitambo Hospital (1953): Grandsons of Chief Chitambo laying the memorial stone

Memorial stone carved by Dr John Todd reads 'This stone was laid by the Grandsons of Chief Chitambo who welcomed Livingstone in 1873'

Jo met members of Global Emergency Medicine ( at the meeting.  They are working with humanitarian architects, Orkidstudio (, on building a First Level hospital near Mwinilunga in North Western Province.  How wonderful if the same could be done for Chitambo?

Monday, 6 February 2017

Mr. Mudenda I presume?: Historic meeting between Scottish Government and Friends of Chitambo in Zambia

Consider, In-country Coordinator for our Scottish Government Small Grant project on strengthening emergency care communications, hosted a historic meeting in Lusaka today, with Mr. Ian Nicol from Scottish Government. 

Scottish Government is strengthening ties with Zambia and Mr. Nicol took time out of a scheduled visit to Malawi for a first historic visit to Zambia.  As Ian is Small Grant Programme Manager, this provided a valuable opportunity to update him on progress with our emergency care project and outline our hopes and expectations for our new project, should our funding application be successful.

Ian is travelling on to Kabwe today, for other business.  Unfortunately, he will not have time to reach Chitambo as hoped.  However, we hope that Levi will either manage to travel the 200 miles to Kabwe to meet him in person or, if this is impractical, at least talk to him by phone.

Ian and Consider at Prince's Mall, Makeni, Lusaka

Let's shake on it

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Friends of Chitambo's brand new Facebook page

Google Friends of Chitambo-SCIO SC044337 for our brand new Facebook page, created by our Trustee, Catriona.  Spread the word!

Scottish Government's Scotland's New International Developemnt Strategy

Scottish Government is serious about partnering with Zambia, as is apparent in the new International Development Strategy: Click here

A new Scottish Global Health Collaborative (SGHC) is being formed.  This is Chaired by the Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer and will be a cross-boundary group involving health service, third sector and academic institutions.  Friends of Chitambo SCIO has signed up to join this group.

The Collaborative aims to launch its new website quite soon.

Belated Happy New Year

A very belated Happy New Year!

We have been off to a flying start and January is just a blur!

Here are some updates:
  • Our thoughts remain very much with our Honorary President, Janet, who is gravely ill but comfortable in a community hospital near Edinburgh, Scotland.  She is receiving excellent care, remains very alert, and continues to reminisce about her nursing days at Chitambo. 
  • Chitambo Hospital has a new doctor, from the Democratic Republic of Congo
  • 3 new Scottish volunteers are seeking to join FoCh, 2 with high-powered health service backgrounds and 1 with extensive experience of fundraising, catering,events managment, and volunteering in Botswana.  They will be very welcome and some Trustees look forward to meeting them on Saturday 11th March
  • Consider has purchased solar lights, in Lusaka, with Ba Chola's kind donation.  These are for Mpelembe remote and rural health clinic where people were delivering babies by the light of mobile phones.  Hopefully the solar lights will be delivered to Levi when he attends the Zambia UK Health Workforce (ZUKHWA) meeting in Lusaka on 22nd February. 
  • Levi and Consider have been invited to attend the ZUKHWA meeting, which is organised by members of the University of Edinburgh Global Health Academy.  They will be great FoCh representatives there.
  • They will also be meeting Mr. Ian Nicol, Scottish Government Small Grant Manager, on his visit to Zambia (5th to 9th February).  Mr. Nicol will not have time to reach Chitambo but will meet Consider in Lusaka and Levi in Kabwe, as part of Scottish Government's newly launched  Scotland Zambia Programme.
  • Jo's talk to the Penicuik University of the 3rd Age (U3A), on Thursday 19th January, went down well.  The theme was Livingstone's Hospital, the Story of Chitambo.  There was a packed hall and all enjoyed learning a little chiBemba and other audience participation.  We received very kind donations which will contribute to new emergency radios for the 'hard to reach' clinics in Chitambo District. 
  • FoCh Patron, Julie Davidson, attended the U3A talk and gave a short account her book, 'Looking for Mrs. Livingstone', about David Livingstone's wife, Mary.  Julie will give a fuller talk on this, to Penicuik U3A, at a later date.
  • Jo will give a second talk to the Bilston Women's Guild on Tuesday 7th February.   Apparently there is some historical connection between Bilston Parish Church and Chitambo.  Jo will find out more and report back after the event.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Season's Greetings from Friends of Chitambo

2016 has been another amazing year, tinged only by sadness at the news of the death of His Majesty Chief Muchinka, Chief of the Lala people.  Our thoughts are with the Chitambo community as they mourn the loss of their esteemed and much loved Chief this Christmas.

Chief Muchinka (centre), in royal robes, with Dr. Tiza Mufune, District Director of Health Far left); and Dr. Jean Paul Kandolo Nzinga, Senior Resident Medical Officer (far right) (2010)

Our thoughts are also here in Scotland, with the sad news that our Honorary President, Janet Knox, has fallen and sustained a hip fracture.  Janet has been battling metastatic breast cancer and other health problems.  However, thanks to the good fortunes of our Scottish NHS, she has now been to the operating theatre and had the fracture repaired.  Apparently she was awake and eating when her family visited.  She is much comforted by well-wishes from Zambian friends and has a copy of the photo below at her bedside.

Honorary President, Janet Knox, with Levi Chifwaila, Senior Nurse Tutor, Chitambo School of Nursing (Bonnyrigg, Scotland, June 2015)
We wish Janet a speedy recovery from the fracture.  We are enriched by the example of our Chitambo elders, Chief Muchinka and Ba Janet, who served as a nursing sister at Chitambo in the 1960s.  Her memories of that time remain strong and bright.

Here are a few images of our year.

Thank you to all our supporters and we wish you a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous 2017 when the time comes.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

More Scottish/Zambian connections

Our Penicuik Christmas Street Fair was a great success again, with particular thanks to Gillian who put in a lot of work on producing goods for sale and enlisting a kind friend to help with the stall.  Thanks, too, to Catriona who came out from Edinburgh to help.

Catriona 'man's' the stall

We were also very much blessed by the presence of Scottish/Zambian community member, Davis and his young son Tengy.  Ba Davis is a highly talented gentleman, with experience of working in Scotland and Zambia.  He has joined Friends of Chitambo and will be a great asset to the cause.

Young Tengy, however, could be even more of an asset.  As an aspiring young businessman in his own right, he bought a raffle ticket and won our Christmas hamper!  We need him on board.

Ba Davis and Tengy

Tengy has a winning streak!
However, Tengy is not our youngest member.  That's David, aged nearly 2.  His Mum, Olu (originally from Nigeria) is our Acting Treasurer.  At our recent Friends of Chitambo  AGM and 3rd birthday party, we gave David a toy ambulance....the Chitambo ambulance in miniature....and we are thinking of enlisting him on Levi's proposed First Aid for ambulance drivers course.  He may be young but he's very bright and a fast young learner.  He is bound to excel!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Our Honorary President

The link between Ron Swanson and Friends of Chitambo runs even deeper.  Our Honorary President, Mrs. Janet Knox, was a close friend of the family during her days as Nursing Sister at Chitambo.  See Janet pictured below, in her nurse's uniform, together with Chitambo missionaries and their children:

Janet Knox, in nurse's uniform, with Chitambo missionaries and their children 
Janet was Aunty Janet to Ron and his siblings!

Very sadly, Janet is gravely ill with metastatic breast cancer, although she remains typically brave and in good humour.

Our beloved  Honorary President, Janet Knox

Local Friends, Jo, Margaret and Gillian, recently enjoyed an indoor picnic with her.  After a sumptuous feast of Giovanni Bistro sandwiches (supplied by Margaret) and many other 'goodies', we repaired to Janet's bedroom so that she could put her feet up whilst we read extracts from a book about the transition to Zambian independence and reminisced about her Chitambo days.

It was an intimate and memorable occasion with much laughter and fun...just as our President wants it.

She was also very appreciative of email communications from Levi Chifwaila, Senior Nurse Tutor at Chitambo School of nursing.  Levi met Janet during his visit to Scotland (June 2015), on behalf of our Scottish Government-funded Small Grant project on 'Strengthening emergency care communications in Chitambo District'.

Levi with Janet, June 2015
 Janet is much comforted by Levi's emails.

Our love is with her.

Great Scots!

There's a lot of catching up to do!

Friends of Chitambo Trustee, Richard Vallis, was selected to receive the Great Scot Award on behalf of Lung Ha Theatre Company, which he founded:

Lung Ha is a leading Scottish Theatre Company for people with learning disabilities.  This prestigious event took place on 29th October, at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel, Glasgow:

L to R: Richard Vallis; Paul Vallis (Lung Ha volunteer); Stephan Tait (Actor, seated); Dan Wallace (Silver Medalist for swimming, Rio Olympics, 2016)

Nice that the event also honoured leading individuals from Scotland's ethnic minority groups, including  murdered Glasgow shopkeeper Asad Sha, and Kalhid Ghelan who raised over £300,000 for judo stat Stephanie Inglis's treatment, following a motor bike accident in Vietnam,  Both these awardees received standing ovations and Kalhid Ghelan was the overall winner of the Great Scot Award.

Richard is a truly Great Scot: in his own right and recently also won Archery Scotland's Coach of the year Award for his contributions to Disability Archery:

The Great Scot event also doubled as a golden opportunity to meet up with Ron Swanson, another Great Scot with a Chitambo connection.

L to R: Jo Vallis; Ron Swanson; Richard Vallis at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel, Glasgow

Read Ron's explanation below:

"After 56 years, it was wonderful to meet up with Dr Jo and Richard Vallis.
Jo’s family - the Currie’s and the Swanson family were brought up together, in the early 1960’s, in the Chitambo Hospital Mission Station, in what was Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia.
Chitambo has major historical links with Scotland, as it is where the famous missionary/explorer David Livingstone died – the hospital is known as Livingstone’s hospital.
Jo Vallis is the founder and chair of the charity “Friends of Chitambo” supporting the wonderful work of the hospital, serving a community of 100,000 people – just slightly smaller than Ayrshire.
As a family, we are planning a very special nostalgic visit to Chitambo in 2017 to experience at first hand the lasting legacy of the late Ron & Mary Swanson who in 1960 left the comfort of Glasgow, with their three very young children, to serve as Church of Scotland missionaries; with our father being responsible for the building and construction of many of the hospital buildings, including a maternity wing, nurses hostel, the Doctor’s and two Nursing Sisters houses – the good news, nearly 60 years later, the buildings are still standing and being fully utilised to support the needs of the community.
The old photos include a very young Ron & Mary Swanson, with their three bare footed children – Elizabeth (7), Ronald (3) & baby Andrew (6 months).
We have so much to be thankful for ……..."

Ron's Dad, also Ron Swanson, was a missionary builder at Chitambo and built the 'old' student nurse hostel, which is still in use today:

'Old' student nurse hostel, built by Ron Swanson Snr.

Here are some photo of the your Ron at Chitambo:

Nowadays, Ron Chairs the vibrant Ayrshire-based charity Centrestage:

Their Facebook page is an inspiration to us on getting our message 'out there' and we are working on developing our own page.