Have a little HOPE

We have a new program starting in 2017 called the HOPE progam. HOPE stands for Hope, Opportunity, Participation, Empowerment and will be run by Response Network and Norwegian based SMISO. SMISO (Støttensenter Mot Incest og Seksuelle Overgrep) is a Non-Governmental Organization located in Tromsø, Norway. It is part of a national network in Norway and offers support and guidance to individuals and families that have experienced incest or sexual abuse.

The purpose of this program is to exchange experience and build competence on preventing and coping with incest and sexual abuse in partner organizations and in the communities in Norway and Zambia. Not only this but also to create awareness regarding incest and sexual abuse for refugees and other people descending from a different culture than Norwegian in Tromsø. Including increasing the culture sensitivity when dealing with people who have been subjected to abuse and related issues.

RN is sending two participants, namely Maunga Kapika and Audrain Muloongo. We caught up with them on their return from their orientation in Johannesburg and they gave us a short insight into how they are feeling.

Maunga Kapika

Maunga Kapika says, “from my exchange, i am expecting to gain experience and knowledge that i can bring back to my home organization and to my community as well. I would also like to gain more knowledge in sexual abuse and get exposure as i am ready to share my experience with SMISO. I look forward to experiencing a different culture and socialize”.

Audrain Muloongo

I am looking forward to having more knowledge on issues pertaining to incest, sexual abuse and their consequences. I would also like to share ideas on how we can educate people on good morals and about respecting human rights. It will also be interesting to see how issues of GBV and sexual abuse are handled in Norway. I am excited to be going overseas though there will be some challenges of climate, culture, homesickness and unfamiliar food,” says Audrain.

With this program, we have also received two participants from Norway. We will be getting to know Preciosa Luraas and Arja Bjørn in some later posts.

 

Thank you for reading our latest blog.

Introducing FK/YSEP 2016-2017 Pt.2

In early November, we introduced you to one of our Fredskorpset (FK) aka Youth Sport Exchange Program (YSEP) volunteers, Maurice Kamau from Kenya and in this blog post, we’re introducing you to our bubbly volunteer all the way from the snowy land of Norway!

My name is Ingrid Renli, I am one of the lucky YSEP volunteers, that has traveled from Norway to work with Response Network! I am soon to be 30 years of age, and simply love doing sports and outdoor activities. In Norway I work in the hospital as an Occupational Therapist and volunteer as an Ice-hockey coach for girls and people with disabilities.



I played many sports growing up, among them gymnastics. Though Ice hockey has been my main sport, where I proudly played for the Norwegian National Team for more than 10 years. In the recent years I have focused on kite surfing, skiing and hiking in the mountains. Ice hockey is an amazing sport, but for obvious reasons cannot be played here in southern Africa. So now, I am enjoying my time living and working in the village of Nampongo in Zimba District in Zambia’s southern province, playing netball and football. I enjoy traveling and experience new things, and i’m looking forward to continuing my stay here in Livingstone and Nampongo

 

 

School season kick off

As can be ascertained from the title, its that time of year again. The office has been abuzz and filled with parents and pupils either registering on the sponsorship program for the first time, like those adorable Grade one pupils that are so excited to be at the beginning of their education journey; or the more weathered Grade 8 and (former Grade 7 pupils who sat and passed their Junior Secondary exams last year) as well as the new Grade 10′s who sat for their exams last year as well. In Zambia, Grade 7, 8 and definitely Grade 12 are major exam grades. We were happy to see so many of our girls pass and return to come and collect uniforms as well as school requirements.

 

The parents and guardians of these children are a vital component in making a success of the sponsorship “kubala girls” program. They were also on hand at the office for orientation and to sign the contracts between themselves and Response Network. Orientation included a talk about the do’s and don’t that are stipulated and also what is expected from them as parents or guardians and what the role of RN is in the grand scheme of things. Its important for us to work hand in hand as the end goal for us all is to facilitate the education of these girls and give them a better chance at succeeding in life, an opportunity that they may not have had at all if it weren’t for this program.

The other exciting part has been seeing the kubala girls alumni come through to the office to hand in their applications for the newly launched skills training program. Its not often that girls can finish school and afford to endeavor into tertiary education or even manage to basically further their education, which leaves them more vulnerable to all kinds of societal evils, which is what makes this program, which is another Academic Work of Sweden partnership, all the more important. The girls got to choose from a number of courses including plumbing; auto mechanics, catering, carpentry and some others.

The skills training girls also swung by to be oriented and to also pick up some of their more basic school requirements. Smiles were abounding and it really was a sight to behold. The girls eagerly chatted away with one another trying to ascertain who had picked which course and about how exciting the courses will be. We’ll be following up on this in blog posts to come so keep  your eyes peeled for that.

Thank you for reading.

*Pictures will be posted soon

End of Year recap

The last couple of months of 2016 went by in a flurry of activity, but fret not because your (hopefully) favorite blog is back and in full force. We have a lot to catch up on so lets get right into it.

We’ll be giving you a run-down of our 2016 end of year activities, and in case you missed them, you can head over to any of our social media pages and have a glance at what went on during December. The atmosphere was generally filled with what the “young people” like to call KeDecember (its December) fever. We were running about trying to plan, implement and finalize preps for the end of year seminars and parties that have to take place before we officially close offices.

First on the line up was our volunteers end of year seminar/party which was held in Makumba village which is about 65km from Livingstone. It was a 2-day affair, the party was held on Thursday December 15th and the volunteers and RN staff as well as community members had tons of fun interacting and dancing the night away. The next day is when the seminar was held. This was basically just a summary of what had been achieved through the year and how to improve this year. The event was graced by the Headwoman of the village, mind you, its not very common to find a woman in a position of authority such as this in the rural areas and it was wonderful to have her there. She helped present the volunteers with their ‘year in service’ certificates alongside the Assistant Director, Mutukwa Matengenya as well as the Programs Manger, Julius Simfukwe. After all the certificates were dispensed with, it was time to cut into the very delicious cake that had been baked specifically for the occasion. After which, a hearty lunch buffet was served and then sadly it was time to come back into the city.

volunteers receiving their certificates

The next event was the Kubala Girls (sponsorship girls) Christmas party which was held on December 23rd at the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) mess hall. This had  a great turn out and girls from various schools showed up to enjoy the party. The entertainment was exceptional, with superstar Zambian artist, Shyman Shaizo performing some of his hits and also giving the girls an inspirational talk. Other entertainment included Mosi-o-Tunya drama group who showed off their African dance moves. The girls themselves got to show off their dance expertise in mini dance competitions that were held and the best dancers got a small cash prize for their efforts. The team from Chreso were also on hand to advocate on issues of HIV/AIDS and the importance of getting tested and being safe.


The festivities were graced by the Mayoress who was standing in for the Mayor and she gave a short speech on the importance of the work that Response Network is doing in the education sector and she encouraged the girls to keep their grades up and strive to do better in school.
There was also a prize-giving ceremony where selected girls were given gifts for their hard work through the year. No one went away empty handed though as there was a lovely Christmas cake that was enjoyed by all.

Last but not least was the end of year staff party which was held on the Taonga boat cruise and was well attended by RN staff and selected invited guests including the guidance counselors and teachers from the schools we work with as well as some familiar faces from the local media to name but a few. RN’s director gave a riveting performance where he belted out a Christmas carol for the attendees. The performance received a standing ovation (video coming soon on instagram) and solicited an encore from the crowd.  There were plenty of refreshments and food available and by the time the boat docked, everyone was in high spirits. This day was the official closing of RN offices for the 2016 year and want an ending it was, ended with a bang as they say.

International Day of the Disabled

December 3rd marked a very special day. The International Day of the Disabled or IDD was kicked off at the Livingstone City Council parking lot with a march past. Marching for a cause is a Zambian tradition, and this day was no different.

The procession was led by a brass band and our so popular majorettes. Organizations of all sorts came out, including Cheshire homes who marched along with their excited children who all have one disability or another. The march past procession made its way through the Livingstone town center to where the actual even would be held which was the Zambia Air Force (ZAF) junior officer’s mess also known as Chopper House.

What made this event even more special was the fact that the organizing committee had decided against having external entertainment but instead had the people with disability (PWDs) put on various acts ranging from dancing to poetry reading and drama sketches, all of which were thoroughly enjoyed. The event was graced by the Mayor of Livingstone and he too got into the festivities and danced alongside the PWDs.

In closing, a delicious light lunch was served for all to enjoy and sadly the day was over. The countdown to the next one (yes, in a year’s time) has begun.

Introducing FK/YSEP 2016-2017 Pt.1

If you’ve been keeping up with the Joneses or in this case with Response Network, you will know by now that we always look forward to receiving a new crop of Fredskorpset (FK) also knows as Youth Sport Exchange Program (YSEP) volunteers.

The deal is that we receive and send a volunteer/volunteers for 10 months in which time they impart as well as receive new skills. This year we received 3 volunteers, Maurice Kamau; Ingrid Renli and Martin Reymert. We also sent one of our very own, George Siachabi to go and represent the program, Response Network as well as Zambia in the beautiful country of Tanzania.

In this specific post however, we are shining a little spotlight on the first volunteer mentioned and that is Maurice Kamau. We’ve gotten to know Maurice a little bit and find him to be a very affable and energetic young man. Always with a ready smile and a warm handshake and never short of a story to tell. Instead of speaking about him in the third person, we decided to just have him write down a few words to introduce himself to you and here they are.

My name is Maurice Muge Kamau. I am 25 years old and i love football generally as well as watching movies an listening to music. Back home (Kenya) I have an U-12 and U-14 boys team as well as U-16 girls team and a senior men’s team.

I am a volunteer in an NGO called Christian Sports Contact (CHRISC) and i am now also a YSEP 2016-17 volunteer. I am based in a village called Musokotwane (southern Zambia) and so far the program has gone well. I’ve learn some new cultures and also different local languages (nyanja).

I am very much looking forward to being more exposed to the Zambian culture.”

That was it from Maurice, stay tuned to our blog as in the coming weeks, we’ll be introducing our other two volunteers, Ingrid and Martin!

To catch up and be kept up on what the volunteers will be doing, Follow us on Instagram, response_network.

Regatta 2016

The Livingstone regatta has a long and rich history. A regatta is a sporting event consisting of a series of boat or yacht races. The Livingstone regatta has been a part of Response Network’s activities for quite a while. At some point, even our Director would hop in the boat and row along with the best of them. The regatta has also seen the inclusion of our sponsorship girls because as we all know, sport activities are an integral part of RN’s agenda.

The aim of participating in the regatta is not really to win but just to take part and have fun while doing it, the added exercise is simply a bonus. The girls really do try their best in all the activities and row their little hearts out, usually with help from some RN staff members. This year, the regatta was held on Saturday, October 15th and though everyone who participated tried their utmost best, we were unable to scoop up a trophy. That being said, everyone had a blast at the event and are determined to take that first place trophy next year. Through all the spills and tumbles from the boat, everyone was in high spirits by then end of it and vowed to kick it up a notch ahead of next year’s competition.

Broadening IT horizons

Its been an interesting time watching our sponsorship or Kubala girls learning how to utilize a computer. Generally computers aren’t high up on the list of priorities in terms of education in Zambia. But with the immersion of the world in the technological age, it has become imperative that everyone understand the basics of computer use.

Mr. Apuleni teaching a class

The kubala girls’ computer tutor, Mr. Apuleni, has been kept quite busy orienting the girls with computers. The girls have been acquainted with the functions of the computer, hardware,, the keyboard, RAM and hard drive. He often gives them tasks to see how well they are progressing and according to him they have been very responsive to the tasks given to them.

The girls have been taking their practicals very seriously and have been looking at how to create files, folders and documents. He teaches them how to create documents based on the activities they have in school and then separating these documents into their respective folders which they have created.

The girls taking an active role in class

The beginning of August marked the start of their exams, both theory and practical. The girls that did the best in these exams are going to be awarded certificates by our visiting partners at Academic Work in November. The girls are very excited and each one of them tried their best to make sure that they are eligible for a certificate.

The best part about this is the appreciation the girls have for being afforded the opportunity to work and practice on these computers. Computers and computer lessons are few and far between in Government schools so the girls are truly grateful to have a chance to practice on these computers which were sponsored by Academic Work.

letter (testimonial) from one of the girls

Kicking Aids Out

Kicking Aids Out (KAO) is an international concept that uses sports as a tool to create awareness about HIV/AIDS and other health related issues. KAO is delivered in levels, There is Peer Leader, Leader Level 1 and Leader level 2. With TOT, Leader Level 1 is conducted, which is also a refresher course for Peer Leader Level which is aimed at training Peer educators who will train and recruit peer leaders who will train their peers on how to implement KAO activities and create awareness on issues that affects youths in their respective clubs. We had a refresher course on August 31st with the sponsorship aka kubala girls and in this workshop, the girls were given the opportunity to air out the problems that they face and were advised on how best they can tackle these problems. Among the topics discussed was reproductive health and how sports can be used to create awareness about HIV, which was followed by some movement games. One of the attendees, Mutinta, said that before starting KAO, she socialized with a bad peer group who were influencing her to have boyfriends and to drink. However, once she started attending the KAO workshops, she realized that what she was doing was not good and she felt like dropping out of school due to all the peer pressure. She however said that she persevered thanks to KAO held by Response Network and is thankful to have received the knowledge imparted during the workshops. She stated that she knows there are girls out there who are following a bad road and she is excited and geared to spread the information she has learned to her fellow peers.

Being led through an exercise in the resource center
The girls participating in a game/exercise dubbed “life is sweet”

Disability is not inability

Throughout the years it has been of paramount importance for Response Network to emphasize on the inclusion of people with disabilities. It is necessary for all people to feel included and part of the community and to feel empowered to add value to their communities. We spoke to Mr.Steven Mpange who is living with disability was attending a disability networking meeting. He had this to say.

This networking meeting and meetings like this have opened the eyes of us people living with disabilities. I never knew that Response Network gives such good information about the inclusion of Persons Living With Disabilities (PLWDs) within sport.

It is such a great platform for those of us living with disabilities to combat the stigma associated with disability and it also gives a boost to our self esteem and confidence in whatever sport we are involved in. The most important lesson that can be learnt is that disability does not equal inability and we can achieve our goals and also keep our bodies and minds fit.”

He went ahead to narrate how when he was born, his parents were told that he was a curse due to the fact that he was born with a disability and he praises all his parent’s efforts because they are the reason he is where he is today.

I am so happy that gone are the days when people used to view disability as a curse and i could not be any happier that people are becoming more aware of the fact we are unable to contribute positively to the community and I have Response Network to thank for that”

 

Steven (in the blue shirt) pictured above at the disability networking meeting