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

Monday, August 11, 2014

Justine Mushitu on Volunteerism


By Justine Buchizya Mushitu
IB student at Sussex Coast College, in Hastings – UK.

I am the first born out of five children of a former taxi driver and a housewife. When I was born, by parents were living in extreme poverty. Because the last thing my parents needed, at the time, was another mouth to feed, my grandmother named me Buchizya, the Bemba word for “unexpected.”

My name is Justine Buchizya Mushitu and I am 18 years old. Because my mother isn’t employed and my father’s work is unstable, paying for a quality secondary school education and international travel expenses would have been impossible. However, with financial assistance and support from the Kucetekela Foundation, I have successfully completed my high school education at a top private school in Lusaka and travelled the world without my parents paying anything.

                Because I am grateful for the rich experiences that the local and global communities have provided for me, I felt compelled to start giving back to my own community at a young age. When I was 15, I started a waste management club at Chalo Trust School. In the beginning, I struggled to build credibility as my friends and fellow classmates failed to take my initiative seriously. However, I had the opportunity to attend a conference in California through an organization? called ‘Green Contributor.’ When I returned to school in Lusaka, I was able to incorporate new ideas and concepts I learned at the conference into my club, and the organization began to take off. This dedication paid off when I was later selected as a UNICEF Climate Youth Ambassador. Working under UNICEF has given me a chance to fulfill my passion for voluntary work in addition to exposing me to new experiences. 
These kinds of opportunities have awarded me with skills I couldn’t have learned in the classroom or from my parents. Most importantly, such exposure and experience has developed the problem-solving and critical thinking skills necessary for young leaders to succeed. Through volunteerism, I have started clubs, reported for the national youth magazine ‘Junior Reporters,’ and sensitized other students on conservation issues. I’ve danced for hundreds of strangers at fundraising events in England, performed a story for children on the Isle of Man, and volunteered for the British Heart Foundation. In short, volunteering experiences have helped me to lead a meaningful life.

Despite these successes, volunteering is not without its challenges. Despite personal failures like being the only member in my club for the first month, or presenting a story to a single listener, I have persevered. To be a successful volunteer, one must be committed, enthusiastic, and learn to work within a team. I will always remember what a gentleman said to me on my first day as a UNICEF volunteer, “happiness is a state of mind in which it finds pleasure.” Like the saying goes, do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

As a global citizen for change, I have inspired both youth and adults to seek a better world. People must learn to give back to the community because we are all who we are because of everybody else. Giving back to one’s community could be financial, social, or moral in nature. Although I am financially sponsored by the Isle of Man to study the International baccalaureate through Pestalozzi in the UK, I am giving back to society by volunteering for UNICEF in Zambia over my summer break. Let’s not create a world where nothing taken is given.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Life after graduation

The saying ‘imiti ikula empanga’ translated as the young trees of today make a forest, has been the core drive in my participating in community service because I believe that when the young ones are educated then the future is in better hands and continuity of whatever positive foundation has been laid is guaranteed.

My community service role is to teach at Kalikiliki literacy project. It is a role or life of mixed emotions in the sense that opportunity and a challenge. I feel I have been awarded the opportunity to help shape or mold a child’s life and influence it as deemed fit and I am fully aware of how deadly or helpful the consequences of every action that I decide on. It is also a challenge because there has been a need to adjust from my comfort levels and be able to understand the kids because of the different backgrounds that they come from and also the different challenges that they face day in and day out. I also need to impact positive influence on the kids by leading by example on each one of them and be able to tolerate upbringings, personalities and mental capabilities.

The greatest impact that has made me feel that all the sweat I have been investing was not for nothing is the experience of seeing the children who practically knew little if not nothing are now able to read and write, the introverts are able to express their opinions and ideas freely. One scene I remember clearly is of one pupil I actually considered to be the slowest of learners in the class because every time I wrote an exercise on the board, she could only copy the work and not attempt to answer it but just bring the work for marking the way I presented it on the board and this was at the beginning of the term but by the time we were a couple of weeks into the term, she surprised the whole class with the answers she started giving in class in more than half the subjects that I teach them. She was able to define what a verb was and could even go as far as giving out examples of verbs to the surprise of the class and since then most of the kids have been encouraged to work hard because they now look at their friend as an example.

My attendance at my new found home away from home has being four times a week and adds up to sixteen days in a month and basically my day starts 11:30hrs when I arrive at the school and ends at 15:30hrs when I leave the school. I usually start with mathematics or English because these are the main or core subjects and I try to take advantage of the fact that their minds are fresh, high concentration levels and so that they are able to understand the work and the concepts in these subjects easily and so far the response has being favorable.

At the end of the term, most of the kids that I teach had opened up and we had become friends and they were free to take part in classroom activities but at the same time they understand that I am the teacher and they are the pupils and at the end of the term after they sat for their end of term, the kids that were able to contribute a K20 were taken out to the Lusaka Nation Museum with kids from the other classes that paid the same amount. We spent have the day looking into the history of our country there and other interesting items at the museum as you will see from the pictures below.
We are all looking forward to next term and can’t wait to continue working together.

Edson Tembo
KF 2013 Graduate


Friday, February 21, 2014

A Mentor's Perspective from Diane Weisz Young

Soon after my arrival in Zambia, I had the pleasure of connecting with The Kucetekela Foundation (KF). I had the opportunity to join them in their work by assisting the staff and serving as a local board member.

In order to become more integrated and involved with KF, I decided it would be a wonderful experience to also become a KF Mentor. So I was matched with a Grade 10 KF Scholar named Nathan Musweu at the Pestalozzi School in October.

When I first met my mentee, I was with my own two children, who are also secondary students in Lusaka, Zambia. Nathan, my mentee, proudly gave my children and me a tour of his school. He was quiet, but clearly intelligent and warm-hearted. We talked a lot about volleyball because Nathan plays at his school and my children also play at their school.

Nathan told us about his family, and how much receiving a KF scholarship means to him and his family. He is one of five children. The KF scholarship provides Nathan with a great education and also opens up the possibility for his family to provide his siblings with an education as well.

The following month, I introduced Nathan to my husband. We took him out for lunch and a movie. We had planned to see “Mandela”, but when we arrived at the theatre Nathan noticed that “The Hunger Games 2” was showing. He mentioned that he’d read the first book and had begun reading the second one. He clearly wanted to see “The Hunger Games 2,” but politely told us he would be happy to see any movie. My husband encouraged me to change my mind and we saw “The Hunger Games 2.”

Before the start of the movie, Nathan told my husband that he was about to see his first movie in a theatre. I was stunned by this news. It made me appreciate seeing a movie with Nathan even more. I know he really enjoyed seeing the movie and was tremendously appreciative of the experience.

We have now entered a new year and a new school year. In January, when the school year begins in Zambia, Nathan started Grade 11. In 2014, I have already taken him and a friend more than once to see my children play basketball at the American School in Lusaka. As Nathan and I get to know one another better, our conversations become more natural and easy. I hope that by spending time with him and by exposing him to aspects of life he wouldn’t normally encounter, I am encouraging Nathan to continue to be a good student and remain open and curious.

At the end of the day, I hope Nathan gets just as much, if not more, out of our interactions and new experiences as I do.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Farewell, 2013

A Pestalozzi Experience
By Martinho da Silva Tembo

Martinho at the Pestalozzi School in Lusaka, Zambia. 
As a graduate from the Pestalozzi Education Center in Lusaka, Zambia, I feel honoured to share my experience. I joined the school in 2012 and graduated this past year in 2013. I had an excellent experience within that period.

In Grade 11, I was chosen as a school librarian. My job was to be in charge of the library. Being a library prefect was a plus for me because I had full access to all the school books. I really love reading so I spent most of my study time reading novels in the library. I love the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings books. I also love Ben Carson, Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Fin, Animal Farm, and The Hobbit. 

Being a librarian also had its downs because I was supposed to follow up with students and teachers who lost their books. This task could have been easier if the students did not dodge me every time they saw me. The hardest thing about my job was getting the students to read the books. Most of them were not into reading that much. Fortunately, the problem was solved when the school started a book reading competition. The students were required to read at least one book per week and write a review of it. The student who wrote the best book review won a prize.

In Grade 12 I became the vice-head boy of the school. The feeling was euphoric. I never thought I would be more than just a librarian. With the new position came new responsibilities. I had to monitor the other prefects and make sure that they did their job properly. It was hard telling prefects to do things because they are also leaders and have to be dealt with with a little more respect.

Being the vice-head boy meant that I had to carry myself in a way that conformed to the position. I had to talk to the students more than I did when I was a librarian. I also had to work hand in hand with the vice-head girl Kate M’hango who is also a KF scholar.

Martinho, the author of the piece, at right, with Kate M’hango, 
another KF Scholar and 2013 graduate, at left, with Mark Adams, 
the former Princeton in Africa fellow for KF, in the middle, at the 
2013 Pestalozzi School graduation ceremony in December. 
Generally the students’ response to me was good. Most of them liked me because I was friendly to them. They did whatever I asked of them. They made my work really easy and I thank them for that.

When it comes to academic achievements the story also starts in Grade 11. I would say that my performance in class was very good. When the test results came it was very common to see me in either first or second position in my class. My biggest competition grew more fierce in Grade 12. I think it was because it was our final year and everyone in my class did not want to be left behind. Almost everyone managed to pass their mock exams which came in the second term. I managed to score 7 points in 6 subjects.

During our graduation I won two prizes. One was for excellent leadership and the other was for being the best in my class.

In conclusion I can say that my stay and experience at Pestalozzi was very good. My personality was enriched and I learned how to use my head, heart and hands, the school’s motto.