2020 was a unique and challenging year for many. Despite the challenges TOSF is always proactive and never sleeps. It is said that: Life is a journey with problems to solve and lessons to learn but most of all experiences to enjoy
Here is to the double digit year 2020, cheers and read on.
Closure of schools due to COVID-19
In March 2020 before the end of the first term of the Zambian school calendar, the government of the Republic of Zambia ordered all schools to close due to an outbreak of Corona virus. When it was announced, everyone thought it was going to be a short-term closure but to our surprise the unexpected persisted. This closure brought along with it much despair.
Examination classes commence.
Three months later, the government announced the opening of examination classes while respecting COVID-19 health guidelines. The school had to put all the necessary requirements requested by the government in order to be reopened. Our school was already practicing almost all of the hygiene requirements even before the pandemic came about, like setting water points for hand wash, disinfecting with soap when washing hands, classrooms not being crowded, this therefore made our preparation easier with the exception of wearing masks and temperature checking which was new to the children.
Before the pupils returned, the team on site had to strategize on how lessons will be
conducted. An innovative type of teaching was introduced, where each teacher had a subject or two to teach the final year examination class. There was not only the form teacher of Grade 7 but all the teaching staff were teaching a subject or two to 47 Grade 7 final year students. They were divided in three (3) classes. Two classes had 16 students and one class had 15 students. This method was a success in that by the time the term ended, the entire syllabus for all subjects was covered in 3 months.
In September, non-examination classes also joined in. The number of pupils increased and the school managed to divide them into 3 groups. This called for each teacher to teach 3 sessions instead of 2, every day. Yet with less contact hours, government, community and private schools could not have students in school the whole week but they would have them in intervals. Therefore, each grade had to attend classes twice a week for two hours. However, TOSF had a different approach where our students had 2 hours contact time every day, bringing the total number of hours to 10 per week compared to government, private and other community schools which had only 4 hours “contact time” per week with the students.
Umwana is a Zambian youth organization whose focus is to eradicate issues of illiteracy among school going children. The word Umwana is a Bemba (Zambian dialect) word which means “a child”. This organization has been working with TOSF for three years now. Their relationship with us has been very solid in that they usually bring different organizations that have programs related to the ones we run at TOSF. On 30th September 2020, Umwana brought an organization called AmeZam which added value to our library by donating 385 books. This was to enhance the already existing reading culture in our school.
Living in a global village in this 21st century requires one to be fully imparted with the necessary information and skills needed to be more diversified in order to compete and earn a living. TOSF has always been dedicated in improving the lives of the communities it serves, with different skills. Some of these skills are;
Values Based Teachers at TOSF are privileged to undergo multiple training and do refresher courses. COVID-19 could not stop this trend at TOSF
Since it has been a culture of training teachers with different skills to constantly upskill them. Hence some teaching staff had online training to acquire knowledge in different departments they are serving from. Media department was one of those departments that were trained in “Organization write up” by Elizabeth Gowing, a renowned writer from the UK. “Effective internet communication” training for the Media department of TOSF School was conducted online by IT specialist Deepak Yadav of Web Synergies, India.
1. Coming up with an article that will be read by a vast number of people worldwide requires much skill and certainly hard work. All thanks to the writing skills and personal training that Mrs. Champ is providing online, which enables me to write articles more effectively. Sylvia Mweene, Author/Writer of TOSF Media Dept.
2. It has been a tough journey but here I am a professional in handling issues of IT. Deepak Yadav and Mrs. Champ, your invaluable training and advice being the reason we (Sylvia Mweene, Stanley Chimanga and myself) are able to gain online internet exposure for our organization and school, overcoming many obstacles. Felix Chileshe, HOD of TOSF Media Dept.
3. Working as a photographer at TOSF under the media department requires a lot of skill to produce quality pictures.
You need to capture pictures that tell a story. This has not been easy, because you would think this picture is on point but the directors would just say no. However, with a lot of instructions and corrections by Mrs. Champ and of course exposure to standard photos sent by madam, here I am. I am now able to tell whether the photo is fit for our article or not.
Photographer media Dept. Stanley Chimanga.
Teaching one how to fish rather than how to roast fish is a traditional proverb in Zambia which motivates one to acquire skills instead of suffering from a dependency syndrome. TOSF empowers single mothers and widows with tailoring skills so that they can put food on the table for their children. Rainah Hachabila is one of the single mothers of our students who has purely benefited from this program and she is currently undergoing further training so that she can also help other single mothers, widows and some school drop outs especially girls to also acquire a skill.
Levels of illiteracy are so high in George compound such that most parents are unable to sign even a simple enrollment form for their children. The school with the permission from the Directors saw it fit to introduce Adult Education to assist the parents. From the time Adult Education started, three mothers have so far managed to sit for National Examinations. Two sat for Grade 9 Junior Secondary School Leaving External Examination and one sat for grade 7 National Composite External Examination. Had it not been for COVID-19, we would have more adult students sitting for the National examination this year. However, the good news is that most of the parents are now able to read and write.
TOSF participated in a number of commemorations that were celebrated globally.
As you are aware that issues of sanitation and hygiene are cardinal in the lives of people, this is the reason why TOSF joined the rest of the world in commemorating “Global Hand Washing Day”, where our students took a lead in sensitizing their fellow students on the importance of hand washing especially during this pandemic.
On the inspiring side, parents continued to do their monthly cleaning at our school to safeguard the hygiene standards and safety for their children, it is always said, “a clean environment is a healthy environment”.
Every year on 16th October, the world commemorates “world food Day”, and we at TOSF School celebrated this day which means so much to our OVC who often have their only meal of the day at school. Our students shared their message to the world on the benefits of a healthy diet. Winfridah Mwamba, a grade 4 pupil, had this message for everyone saying, as TOSF we say” NO to junk food.”
While Violet Liswaniso, a grade 3 pupil spoke out clearly to say, “Healthy Diet is Our Priority”.
Food for the stomach is as important as food for the mind. Therefore, Health and nutrition are essential pre-requisites for effective learning. The school has been doing this program since inception and it has yielded a lot of results especially that most of our children if not all come from impoverished families where a meal is only taken once, in some instances no meal at all. Therefore, when schools closed, the fear for our students was not Corona virus claiming their lives but hunger.
Our directors took it at heart and sourced money for Food Relief Aid to provide for the vulnerable families. Money was sourced and five (5) consignments were carried out reaching out to 250 families, feeding about 2,500 mouths in total. The first 2 consignments were organized by Mrs. Leela champ through the help of GlobalGiving USA and Ramakrishna Mission Singapore. It is of utmost value and appreciation to mention that the other three consignments were organized by the Spiritual Director Swami Devapriyananda of Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre Lusaka, Zambia.
Elderly members of our community who benefited from relief food aid were very happy for the help rendered and wished the sponsors well.
The 2030 nutrition project, the Kalumba family and Lusaka Metro club (Rotary club) in partnership with Mount Meru also came in to extend their help by feeding the vulnerable children at our school. Our students and the entire community that benefited are extending their gratitude to all who took their time, money and efforts to ensure the programs were successful and their prayer is that you will continue blessing others even this year.
Inclusive sport festival provide the neutral ground for any child regardless of their physical wellbeing or economic status to participate in various sports activities for integration purposes and eradication of discrimination to those who are physically challenged. Our students have been participating in this sports festival and the last sports festival was celebrated under the theme,” Beat COVID-19 through Inclusive Sports“. Being values based school our children played an important role by demonstrating all the values learnt at school towards God’s creation which includes the physically challenged.
The students TOSF serves are very vulnerable such that just having a meal is a struggle not to mention a Christmas party. December is a month of Christmas and TOSF children being orphans and vulnerable hardly celebrate Christmas with their families because they cannot afford one. To put a smile on these vulnerable children’s’ faces, TOSF holds a Christmas party for them yearly. Even in the midst of COVID-19, our Directors still went on to host this special Christmas party for our students as a sendoff for holidays. “Holding this party for us means a million to our well-being and it makes us feels so loved and valued at the same time,” narrates Memory Zulu, a grade five pupil at TOSF.
TOSF partners with GlobalGiving.
GlobalGiving is the first and largest global crowdfunding community that connects vetted, grassroots nonprofits with donors and companies around the world. Their mission is to transform aid and philanthropy to accelerate community-led change.
These are some of the events we covered at TOSF last year. Indeed 2020 has been a year of hard work, dedication and sacrifice. We thank each and every one of you who made this year a success not forgetting our ever hardworking, dedicated and selfless values based teachers for the job well done. To our Directors, had it not been for your tireless commitment all these activities would have been impossible to execute.