Caritas development aid project in Zambia

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The Catholic charity organization Caritas has development aid programmes in many countries of the world. It expanded its activities to Zambia just a year ago where it has been supporting orphans at the St. Charles Academy in Solwezi. We spoke to the project's chief coordinator Jarmila Kabatova about why Caritas picked this particular school and what the past year has been like.

"It is a school that was founded in 1996 for all the children in the area who had never attended school - orphans, semi-orphans and children who had to take on the task of looking after their younger siblings - two hundred children in all. When we arrived on the scene the school was facing financial difficulties, it was in very bad shape, the teachers' salaries were not being paid properly and there were only two teachers for two hundred children. We asked them to increase the number of teachers and even to replace some of them because often it happened that the teacher would not show up or else they would show up and send the children to do some shopping for them and so on. The situation has now improved. More teachers have been engaged, they attend classes regularly and the classes take place throughout the day."

So you are helping financially?

"Yes, this was the first step. The second step was helping those children who could not afford lunch at school, uniforms or textbooks. The presence of our representative in Zambia helps a lot because he overseas the whole project."

I understand he also works with the children himself?

"Yes, he organizes some extra-curricular activities - painting, arts and crafts classes and he also teaches English. This is essential. If a child in Zambia -or elsewhere in the developing world - speaks English well their chances of getting a good job are much higher."

I understand that out of the school's 200 pupils 170 are sponsored by Czech "adoptive" parents within your long distance adoption scheme - is that right?

"That is correct. One hundred and seventy five children are sponsored in this way but generally all children benefit because our main target is the school. We buy the uniforms, the school books, we have given the school building a new coat of paint and improved the surroundings - and all these activities are covered by these funds."

Caritas currently has development aid projects in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe. It is possible to sponsor needy children through its long distance adoption programmes. For more information please go to www.charita-adopce.cz