Who we are
Tehila is the name of the first child that Hannah and I both met in Zambia and is a Hebrew word that means ‘Praise’
What’s the plan?
We are writing to let you know about our potential plans to go to Zambia in Africa in 2012! For some time we have felt that we have something to offer in helping in the developing world. We realise that many feel that way, and like us people will have tried doors which didn’t open. Our news is that we believe God has opened an amazing door of opportunity for our skills and experience to be put to the best possible use! We are calling it Project Tehila.
What we can do in Zambia
An opportunity has arisen for us to volunteer for EFZ for 12 months. EFZ is a Christian umbrella organisation which carries out various development programmes in education, HIV/AIDs, orphan and vulnerable children support, agriculture, food security, advocacy, water and sanitation. The Director of EFZ, Pukuta Mwanza, is keen for us to support his vision in developing a Children and Young People’s Department. This will begin with the implementation of a new Child Protection Policy, to develop work which Tearfund (a UK Relief & Development charity) has helped initiate.
In working with the poor and marginalised in Zambia, staff and volunteers regularly come into contact with children. As in all societies, children and young people in Zambia can be extremely vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. This can come in many forms such as physical, sexual and emotional abuse, harmful cultural practices, early marriage and forced labour.
Our vision… is to take forward a process of change in perceptions which will see children’s lives changed forever. The aim is to develop and facilitate a training programme, equipping people with the skills to recognise and respond appropriately to a child that may be at risk from harm. This will be good for the children, their families and for Zambia.
Why we believe we can help in Africa
Hannah and I have volunteered together in the past, developing and facilitating befriending training courses for volunteers within Kerith Community Church, Bracknell. We both relate well to people and have a strong sense of justice and compassion, particularly for those who are marginalised in some way.
We are privileged to have received opportunities to develop skills and knowledge that may enable us to carry out this role. I have been working within homelessness for five years, developing and managing an Outreach Service within my organisation. Prior to this I was an ambulance technician and have also managed my own business. Hannah is a qualified social worker and has extensive post-qualifying experience within children’s rights and advocacy, dealing with child protection and safeguarding issues. Hannah is also a qualified trainer and has experience of both developing and facilitating training programmes.
We have two beautiful daughters Isla Grace (aged 3) and Amba Hope (aged 1), and having taken advice, we are confident they will be able to adapt and benefit hugely from this experience.
Who is behind us in this?
With our roots so strongly in church life at Kerith Community Church, it was essential that we felt we had their full backing, before embarking on this challenge. After all, this involves our children, our home and our careers.
So it is really exciting that our church is fully behind us in this, and is already strongly involved in Zambia through its commitment to support the work in the Serenje district of Zambia over a five year period. Working together with Tearfund and EFZ this will lead to 3000 vulnerable children accessing education. It also involves HIV/Aids support and empowering people to improve their farming techniques.
We will be based in Zambia’s capital city Lusaka and our focus will be in our role to protect children across Zambia. However, there will be practical ways in which we can support the work in Serenje, including the occasional attendance at community meetings to provide encouragement as they take things forward. We will clearly learn and gain a lot from this experience.