The Zambia YMCA is among 17 organisations that have been selected and therefore engaged as a Lead Sub Recipient (LSR) of the Global Fund Round 8, through the Churches Health Association of Zambia (CHAZ). In effect this means that the Zambia YMCA will be able to provide sub grants to community faith-based organisations (FBOs) and churches. The grant focuses on: scaling up STD prevention; HIV/AIDS impact mitigation activities; health system strengthening; providing education support to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs) from primary school through to college; and providing nutritional support and home-based palliative care for chronically ill HIV/AIDS patients.
Currently, eight organisations (of which four are YMCAS) have been funded by Zambia YMCA in the first granting phase which distributed approximately US$200,000. The project is set to run for an initial two years, after which, depending on Zambia YMCA’s track record of supervising the Sub Sub Recipients (SSRs), may be extended for a further 3 years, with a possible increase in the amount of funds to be disbursed.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic has brought with it numerous challenges and often hits children hardest through the loss of one (a single orphan) or both parents (double orphan).
One example of a single orphan is Samuel Matabishi, a 16 year old Grade 10 pupil of Chibombo district, a predominantly farming area in rural Zambia. He is amongst hundreds of other OVCs who are receiving educational support from his local YMCA through the Zambia YMCA.
Samuel who lives with his widowed mother and siblings grows vegetables in his mother’s garden, which she in turn takes to the market to sell. The little money realised from the sale of vegetables is what is used to buy food, his uniform and other school requirements.
“I am very thankful to the YMCA for paying my school fees. I would be even more grateful if they bought me my school uniform and exercise books,” said Samuel. Unfortunately, the support for secondary school going OVCs currently only covers their school fees.
In the midst of the misery and anguish that HIV/AIDS leaves in its trail, there is renewed hope for the many people both infected and affected. This was evidenced after speaking with several beneficiaries from the project that had nothing but praises for the YMCA in Zambia.
“The YMCA has changed my life. I will bring as many of my friends as possible to join so that they may also benefit and give to this wonderful organisation,” remarked one participant.
Samuel is now an active member of the YMCA youth group in Chibombo , and is a common feature on the afternoons he is not tending his vegetable garden or busy with the Anti-AIDS drama group at his school.
By: Mutale Chanda, Zambia YMCA
Since October 2009, the Liberia YMCA in partnership with the government of Liberia, and the United Nations Development Programme have to date trained 900 commercial motorcyclists in Liberia in a bid to improve road safety in the region. Of the 900 beneficiaries, 500 come from the Bong County in Central Liberia, with a further 400 hailing from the Tubmanburg Bomi and Kataka Margibi counties.
The commercial motorbike industry is relatively new in Liberia, with a large number of commercial motorcyclists being ex-combatants during the Liberian civil war. Coming from a background of violence and conflict has led to an industry often quick to respond to conflict with aggression and violence and has resulted in many Liberians perceiving the motorbike riders as troublemakers who are quick to take the laws into their own hands. Because of the long-term psychosocial damage done to Liberian youth during the civil war, the training extends beyond road safety to include psychological counseling, basic governance education, HIV/AIDS awareness, conflict resolution skills and civic responsibility education and development.
It is intended that the skills taught will reintegrate the youth into Liberian society by enabling them to contribute meaningfully to the community through responsible behaviours and adhering to the rule of law.
The Liberian YMCA’s research and experience indicates that commercial motorbike riders come into conflict with the law primarily through their ignorance of traffic rules and often violence has resulted when the bikers misunderstood police intervention and instead felt they were being wrongly persecuted. The training has helped beneficiaries to become more aware of traffic regulations and to respond more amicably during traffic violations and police intervention. In this regard, police participation in the programme has been vital and has helped to create an atmosphere of cooperation and order.
The training has been well received by the project beneficiaries, with many affirming the need for improved training in the region.
During one of the recent trainings, a motorbiker remarked that “this kind of intervention by the Liberia YMCA and partners is very good. We want the Liberia YMCA to visit the field and also continue with this training, as this would help us.”
Another participant in Gbarnga of the Bong County said: “This is good for us, because many of us do not know traffic signs and other things pertaining to road safety.” “This will help some of us to avoid accidents,” a participant concluded.
On completion of their training, participants received two helmets, a vest and gloves and were rewarded with their licenses.
The next round of training is schedule to take place in south eastern Liberia, Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County. 200 commercial motorcyclists will undergo training from October 11-16, 2010 in partnership with the German Technical Cooperation.
By: Emmanuel King, Information Officer, Liberia YMCA