It struck me recently that many of our followers on social media grab snippets about the work that we do, get to see some beautiful photos and hear from our students. But they rarely hear from me. When I meet people, they first ask what I do, then they want to know why does a women from Tunbridge Wells set up a charity, and why in Zambia. I thought it only right then that my first blog should answer these questions.
Our Moon Education is a small education charity working with really bright young people in Zambia who have suffered severe financial disadvantage. Some are orphans, some are from one-parent families, other families are just trying to survive on informal employment while supporting large numbers within a single household. Around 93% of our students’ families survive on less than £1500 a year – and that doesn’t buy an awful lot more in Zambia than in the UK. There is no safety net for these people: no state benefits system. Even secondary education has to be paid for so only 28% of young people go on to complete the equivalent of GCSEs. There is no formal A-level or equivalent provision.
Our Moon runs a two-year programme which combines A-levels, intensive English skills, volunteering and university application support. The outcome of our course is that young people develop the skills, knowledge and dispositions so that they can contribute to positive social change within their country.
I live in Tunbridge Wells, so many people ask how I ended up in Zambia. One of my Zambian students, Justin, who I worked with a few years ago when he was studying in the UK, felt I could make more impact if I worked in Zambia. He invited me to Zambia where, together with some of my other Zambian students, we put on workshops for students and teachers. From our discussions, we developed a programme which met the educational gap and selected our first two students. Justin now manages our work in Zambia. I go out twice a year typically for four weeks at a time.
I believe strongly that I am a global citizen. As the world shrinks in size (with faster communications and the ease of intercontinental travel) what happens in one part of the world has an impact on what happens in another part. We all have a duty to help make the world a better place. My skills and passion lie in improving the lives of people in Africa and, through Our Moon, I feel I can make a small but meaningful difference. Although I could do this work in many countries, Zambia and Justin’s family have been very welcoming to me. Most importantly, our students are amazing young people and go on to attend many great universities. Some of this year’s students already have offers – with full scholarships – to study at universities including Columbia University in New York, Smith College in Massachusetts and University of Edinburgh here in the UK. Since our inception in 2015, we have unlocked £1.9m worth of scholarships for our students. With these educational opportunities, they have the ability to truly make an impact in the world and contribute to change on the African continent.