Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Volunteering at Lubuto Library- Rosa Dabulu

As required by KF, every student is to do community service during their year after secondary school, or “Gap Year.” I have been doing community service at a community library called Lubuto.

Lubuto Library is located within a government school called Ngwerere Basic School. It is open to both students within the school and also those from others schools within the community.

My first experience at Lubuto was working as a librarian. Through the help of the Lubuto staff members I was able to get familiar with not only my work but also the children that came to the library. I learned to place books on shelves accordingly and to read stories to the children during storytime.

Aside from working in the library, I have recently been working in the children’s computer room. I help children doing lessons on mini-learning laptops, teach them how to write their name and other tasks.

During my experience up to now, I have learned not only to give to others but also learn from others. Learning is a two-way street; one has to give and also receive knowledge. I have also learned to know and accept every child differently. Children on different character come to the library hence it’s my duty to respect them and their personalities. Some are slow learns and others are fast learners.

I have also learned to be social and friendly in a professional environment, interacting with Lubuto staff members.

Additionally, I have had the privilege to interact with people around the community during an activity the library carries out called “outreach.” During this activity, two staff members at Lubuto go into the community to read stories to kids, thereby encouraging them to come to the library.

All in all I really appreciate the privilege I have received being able to help in the community and to bring about positive change in the little that I do.
Rosa assisting a student at Lubuto Library

Friday, March 20, 2015

My KF Journey- Margaret Ngoma

Margaret at Chalo Graduation 2014
My journey with the Kucetekela Foundation (KF) started in January 2010. I had been a child who loved school but hated competition due to the fear of being left behind and lack of confidence.

My name is Margaret Ngoma and I have been with KF for the past five years. After getting the highest marks in Grade 7 at my school, I believed a little more in myself. Once enrolled in the school, I had a goal set in my head to be the first all the time- or at least in the top two.

That worked very well, since I had topped my class throughout my Grade 8, topping the whole school on two separate occasions. For the three terms in Grade 8, I received 541, 568, and 540 marks.

Grade 9 came with its own pressures, and I was determined to continue with my goal of being the best two. It worked, except I was second for the two terms. Having been supplied with all the material and emotional support, I knew it was left to me to give results that showed that I appreciated the assistance given to me by KF. So, I worked hard.

My results came out and oh, was I happy! I had not only topped the class, but also broke my school’s record by scoring 531 marks out of 600. I was really happy with the overall 531 mark and impressed by my 99% score in history (which also made Chalo Trust School history).

Margaret 'modeling' at Chalo's Talent Show
Grade 10 continued on smoothly, with my goal of ‘top two’ still working out. Additionally, I received some awards for the first time. In addition to being awarded deputy head girl, I was crowned as Miss Chalo. The Miss Chalo award is given to a person who leads by example in all aspects, including academics, character, and overall involvement in extra-curricular activities. I was that person in 2012. I had been voted and appointed deputy headgirl- as the prefects and heads usually came from Grade 11.

My Grade 11 had its ups and downs, but I fought on and sadly my ‘top two’ goal was shaken, as I came out third in one of the terms. However, this did not discourage me. It was competition and so it encouraged me to work harder. With a change in the syllabi, there was need to utilize all the time I had. Here, I was voted and appointed headgirl of the school, among other awards like “most disciplined.”

Margaret and her family at graduation
My last year of secondary school moved quickly, and I was studying, revising, and getting help. I wrote my exams in October and November. My results came out and I performed the best at my school, graduating the first in my class in November 2014.

I delight in telling my story because its not about the ups or the downs, but its about the end result. I am proud to say that my conclusion is, after all, that I finished school at the top of my class in all of my national and international exams at Chalo Trust School. I am happy of my achievements and my awards, and I am glad that KF was there throughout. Currently, I am working as an intern in the KF office and taking Russian language classes to prepare for applying for Russian scholarships to study medicine. I am grateful for the opportunities provided to me by KF, and I thank God for his love.

Friday, January 30, 2015

From KF to College Graduation- Japhet Phiri

Japhet installing computers for NetOne
My name is Japhet Phiri. I am a male aged 22 years old. I was born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia. I did my Basic and Primary Education at Chibelo Basic School. In 2006 when I was doing my seventh grade, just after I wrote my mock exams, results came out. I passed number two in my class. After a couple months,  KF came at to our school and asked to speak to the pupils who managed to get the first, second, and third position in each Grade 7 class (there were 5 classes at the time). Among this group I was then chosen to write exams administered by KF. We were told that the students who performed best would be given a five year sponsorship from Grade 8 to 12. After receiving these results,  I was picked by KF as one of the pupils to be sponsored. Mrs. Nkowane came to Kalikiliki Compound, where she found me at my father's shop. I closed the shop and took her home so that she could meet my parents, and she told my parents "your son has been picked to be sponsored by KF." My parents and I were very happy that day.

KF as done a lot of great and wonderful things in my life. KF assisted me in so many ways-  paid for all my school fees, gave me pocket money, bought me clothes, smart shoes, casual shoes to wear, textbooks; they took us to a tuition center, gave us tutoring at schools; and during holidays we would go for a movie, camping and come together us the entire KF so that we all get to know each other. Additionally, KF has also taught us to be hard working, focus and learn to be  responsible for your own actions. KF does not want to see any one they have sponsored to be left alone- they want you be in touch and they always give us the support, encouragement, guidance and motivation that will build your life. I do not have so much to give as a person but I pray to the almighty God that he will reward KF for all the wonderful things they have done in each person’s life.

Since KF I have been enrolled at the National Institute for Public Administration (NIPA) here in Lusaka, Zambia. I have completed a Diploma in Information Systems and Programming and am working on my advanced diploma in the same field. I have also begun working full-time at NetOne, Zambia's largest IT-data firm, working as an assistant support engineer. 

In the future, with more hands on experience, I see myself becoming an IT Manager, Network Administrator or Programmer.  

Japhet Phiri.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Beyond High School Education in The Heat of India

It was a Friday afternoon, in the burning heat and sweltering humidity of West Bengal. Everyone was excited to go for the long weekend and so was I. Suddenly the world stood still, my eyes blurred with tears of pain and anger. I was breathing as heavily as the Spanish el Toro agitated by the color red. I felt powerless as I was glancing at my end of term results that I had failed, attaining a score below average. My self-esteem was crushed and the only feelings I remember were anguish and pain.

I knew that I had let the people close to me down. But what hurt the most was that I failed to achieve my goal; I simply let myself down. I was confused.

A couple of days later I overheard two senior students talking about how a biological ecosystem is self-sustainable. I was curious and went out to watch the sunset in the rice fields. I could sense the smell of fish mixed with the smell of rice paddy fields; it was rejuvenating. As I carefully observed my surrounding, I noticed the terrestrial and aquatic organisms whose complex interactions left me flabbergasted. I pondered upon how these organisms have different, independent roles in the ecosystem, yet enhance their living through collaboration. Beneath where I stood was a colony of termites feeding on dry straw. I watched them eat and began to think about how termites are incapable of digesting what they feed on in the absence of hypermastigote; multi flagellate organisms that are symbiotic and present in their guts. Hypermastigote helps termites in digestion and extract nutrients for themselves in the process. These two independent organisms are imperfect but survive through interdependence. I deduced that imperfections are what operate a sustainable environment and I related this to my failure and my imperfections. I realized that failure exists to teach us unique lessons and it is a medium that allows individual reformation.

Now I can proudly look at my good grades, which are a result of using failure as a means to progress and my perseverance.  Surprisingly, from my experiences and adventures I have recognized many values and assembled a collection of skills that make me an adroit learner. Above all, I have learnt that the pursuit of knowledge has no room for fear or failure. Having experienced these hurdles I opted for voluntary community service during the summer break.

The adventures from which I received my information shall forever affect how I perceive life; one infinite, mysterious puzzle waiting to be solved with tools; failure and ability to learn and improve from it. One thing clear to me now is that I want to impact a diversity of concepts and perceptions, by acting as a tool to help others in need, like I do in my local community.

My family and my community remain the biggest source of my inspiration and motivation. And I believe that being at University and finally obtaining the Bachelor's Degree will signify a new commencement for me and my community, as it will prove that the world is full of possibilities for those who strive to attain them. I carry the hopes and dreams of my mother who only went as far as 8th Grade and above all my community. There is nothing that motivates me and makes me feel more content than returning to my community.

-Dalton Munkombwe 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

KF Alumni Spotlight- Bwalya Kasanda


By Bwalya Kasanda

I am sitting in my room… looking out of my windowpane, in Songsten Khang House, Pestalozzi, United Kingdom. I can see the present, the future too, but my thoughts right now are darting about in the past. I am trying to sort out tracks and puzzles of how I got here. The answer has always been at the back of my mind. But it is not something that I often write about. So here it comes.

They say “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Mine began with a smile and it was a journey of a thousand miles. As I sit in this room I find it impossible to imagine going home on foot. The memory never blares; I remember one 2007 afternoon being called from class to go to Ms Banda’s office, the then senior teacher of Northmead Basic School. I must confess that although I was not one for offences at school I was a little scared, just 12. But the news that followed was unfamiliar to me. I had never heard of Kucetekela Foundation, and here I was, being given an application form. At the time I was just confused. Things soon fell into place and excitement crept in. Given my financial circumstances, I considered myself lucky to be awarded such an amazing scholarship, and I did my level best in the application process, the tests inclusive. Tears of joy rolled down my cheeks when one December morning I was informed that I, among nine others, had won the scholarship. Ready for new experiences, I packed my almost empty suitcase and headed for Leopards Hill secondary school.

KF did everything for me- it provided transport, bought me clothes and textbooks and a lot of other things. I was fully supported and good to go! Most importantly, I had the opportunity to obtain quality education at among the best schools in the country, something I had never really dreamt of. I was on my way to achieving things greater than I had dreamt of. Although I spent a lot of time in boarding school, interacting with kids often from backgrounds more privileged than my own, I had staff from KF come over to school to check on my progress and ask for any concerns. I felt that I was not alone. I felt cared for and supported. I fit in very well. I vividly remember all the beautiful events, starting with the orientation luncheon at Dolphin restaurant and then the mentor’s luncheon at the Taj Pamodzi Hotel. Oh the mentorship programme that is another marvellous experience on its own. I found a wonderful mentor in Juanita Kashoki. I often had a chance to meet with fellow KF students from the other two schools, Ibex Hill and Chalo Trust through the many events that we had, such as the Hope foundation trip, the Ndubaluba trip and the South Africa trip. Additionally, I have had the privilege of exchanging cultures with students from Hotchkiss from the USA.
 In both my examination classes, grade nine and twelve I was provided with all the resources that I needed, including tuition and past papers. Mr Mukena was always there busy trying to sort out the school accounts, the fellows from America were wonderful support and Mrs Nkowane, the mother of the organisation gave me inspiration. One day I will look back and say, “I never made it on my own, I am just a testimony.” KF is the brain child of Oliver Barry, and I am grateful to him for all he does, and to his friends and family who do their utmost to sponsor the organisation.

I completed my high school at Chalo Trust, quite successfully, and proceeded to take a gap year in 2013. During this time, KF introduced me to the Kalikiliki Literacy Project, where I gave back to the community through teaching. Simultaneously, KF was always on the look out for opportunities, many of which, I am humbled to say, were availed to me. Initially, the KF contract lasted five years-sponsoring students throughout their secondary school lives. But the organisation later saw the need to help its alumni become successful who faced after school challenges, a huge and selfless step in my opinion. I applied for several great programmes such as USAP, African Leadership Academy and IB in Pestalozzi UK. It is through this tedious process that I got the opportunity to sit down in my room…looking out of my windowpane, in Songsten Khang House, Pestalozzi, United Kingdom.  I now look to the future as I complete the dying months of an interestingly challenging Diploma and seek out other opportunities in the west.

Monday, November 10, 2014

KF Actors and Actresses Shine in Oliver Twist

As part of the annual Barefeet festival this year, the students at Pestalozzi Educational Center have spent their weekends memorizing lines and practicing songs for a performance of Oliver Twist. After a competitive round of auditions, a handful of Kucetekela Foundation students were rewarded for their talents with main roles:

·      Christian as Oliver Twist (in cast one), the main character.
·      Emmanuel as Oliver Twist (in cast two), the main character.
·      Ased as Mr. Bumble, the cruel and pompous head of the orphanage.
·      Jackson as Bill Sikes, the notorious ‘career criminal’ of Fagin’s gang.
·      Metrina as Nancy, the lover and eventual victim of Bill Sikes.
·      Nelly as Charlotte, the daughter of the undertakers who buys Oliver. 
·      Martin as the Chairperson, who runs the pub. 

Other KF students were involved in the performance by singing in the choir. This includes Mutinta, Nathan, Rabecca and Simangele in Grade 9, and Rosa and Grace in Grade 12. 

After a busy few months of rehearsals, the show d├ębuted on the evening of August 22nd, with two more performances the following day. Each show drew a full crowd, who watched eagerly as the students laughed, cried, sang and danced on stage. All the Pestalozzi students did a great job, but we are especially proud of the KF students who worked hard to receive notable positions and performed flawlessly on stage! Bravo!

 Ased (in blue) helping toss Christian (in air) into the 'coffin'

 Ased (left) and Christian (right)


 Martin (right) performing

 Jackson (left) performing

 Christian singing a solo

 Christian (left) and Ased (right) during the finale

 One of the many dance routines

 Emmanuel (right) as Oliver 

Metrina (left) singing

Monday, August 18, 2014

KF Reunion Remarks from Former KF Fellow, Mark Adams

Sometimes timing just works out perfectly. In this case, I couldn't have planned a better way for me to say goodbye to the KF students and staff, the people who originally brought me to Zambia.

The new PiAf Fellow at KF, Olivia, invited me to the annual KF reunion which happened to fall on my second to last weekend in the country. Almost every current student and alumni was there, from the first class, now three years out of school, to the Grade 8's, newest to the program. For the entire day I sat there with a grin plastered on my face, listening to the students run the show. The older classes presented on topics of their choice. Many talked about the opportunities and struggles they've been finding in their first years at university. Others discussed questions they've experienced about their religious beliefs while living in other cultures abroad. Japhet, pursuing a career in IT, showed us a very complex way to reset your password if you get completely locked out of your computer. One after another they exuded a well-spoken confidence, a passion for their topic, and a real love for the KF program and the students still in it. I couldn't have been happier to be there, to see how far many of them have come, and to imagine a very bright future for them and the ever-growing Kucetekela Foundation network.

 Abram presenting to a full house

 Current students and alumni

 Dalton and Justin questioning what we really know

Japhet hacking computers

 Team-building challenge from ALA: tallest tower out of candy, spaghetti, string and tape

Soon there'll be too many to fit in one shot


Martinho, my mentee, who has just left to attend Earth University in Costa Rica

Olivia, the new Fellow, three generations on

Florence, my former boss and ED of KF