Jamie Howard, a member of Build It’s Young Professional Board, recently travelled to Zambia to visit Build It projects and trainees at the Centre for Excellence. Jamie shares his experience…
Early in September, I joined a group of cyclists in Zambia to send them off on their journey from Lusaka to Livingstone to raise money for Build It, while also carrying out some research for my dissertation. We visited Chitukuko School when term was yet to start but this didn’t stop the students from putting on their uniforms and singing on our arrival with an exceptionally warm welcome. The community expressed an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and positivity. The head teacher and others gave speeches informing Build It on the school’s achievements and current issues, followed by singing and a tour of the school. The visit to Chitukuko was eye-opening; the community was so proud of their school and sincerely thankful. The school which now consists of more than 500 pupils provides hope for a community which previously lacked any educational facilities for the children of Chitukuko.
The people of Chitukuko generously served us some traditional Zambian food before a brief visit to the Centre for Excellence where we witnessed individuals truly engaged in practising brick laying, carpentry, painting and plastering. It was striking that the basic skills these individuals adopt at the training centre can dramatically improve not just their employment prospects but their quality of life. The centre itself was also impressive, with different stations across the site for different courses, a small office, learning plazas, but most memorable was the modern and artistic multi-functional hall.
On Sunday we returned to the Centre for Excellence to send off the cyclists on their expedition across Zambia. Surprisingly, early on a Sunday morning we were once again met with singing, dancing and an awe of enthusiasm. The up-beat atmosphere was the perfect way for the cyclists to start their journey.
The following few days I was based at the Centre for Excellence where everyone was remarkably forthcoming and welcoming. I spoke to staff and trainees about the training program and the prevailing theme in the various conversations I had was the real difference the training programme makes; not just for the individuals but for their families and communities. Whether it’s receiving employment so their children can go to school, building a new house, purchasing new goods or teaching others the skills they have learnt. It was truly breath taking the difference the programme made for the trainees, it was their big break!
My trip to Zambia and seeing with my own eyes the difference Build It makes was magical and made me truly excited to be part of such a charity. It was clear that Build It was not just improving the lives of those they are directly focusing on but also the associated families and communities. The gratitude and positivity of the trainees and the Chitukuko community was magical and emphasised to me the people’s appreciation for Build It’s help and support.