I know many of you will be wondering what's been happening with the girls dormitory in Serenje, Zambia. This is our project to build a dormitory for 100 girls who otherwise would have to live in a slum area of Serenje, due to which only about 5% of them complete their Secondary School education.
In many ways progress has been frustratingly slow. I'd have hoped by now that we'd have the girls living in the dormitory, but sadly due to a number of factors which have delayed the project that isn't the case. However, the good news is that we now have a clear route to getting the dormitory finished, and the girls moved in.
On the financial side this week we'll be transferring the last of the money we've raised to Tearfund, ready for it to be transferred to Zambia when needed. In total we've raised £249,480 which is simply amazing - a huge thank you to everyone who did anything towards making that possible. That figure is on top of the over £500,000 we raised for the HIV/AIDS project we sponsored in Serenje, and the money raised to build and equip an operating theatre, establish special needs support in some of the schools and the other spin off projects coming out of the main project. As we think of the dreadful scenes of people fighting over flat screen TVs on Black Friday I'm so encouraged by our counter cultural generosity as a community.
Should the total cost of building and fitting out the dormitory go beyond what we have raised then Tearfund are going to look to other donors to provide the funds. I'm more than happy for other people to get involved in the project - it was never about having a Kerith badge on it or us being able to say we did it alone - it has always been about doing for the girls what we'd all want if they were our daughters. If others want to get involved in making that happen then I'm delighted.
On the planning side to get the building finished and girls moved in Tearfund recently employed a wonderful lady called Anne Mumbi as their country rep for Zambia, based in the capital Lusaka. Anne is a good friend of ours as she accompanied us on the first ever trip to Zambia, and came to the Kerith Centre 8 years ago when a lady called Patricia Sawo came and spoke to us about the impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Anne has spent the last few years working for Oxfam overseeing a number of building projects. Having Anne on the ground for Ralph Allen (our architect who designed both the Kerith Centre and the dormitory) and others to talk to directly is going to make things so much easier. Anne is also working on the sustainability plan for how girls get selected to go into the dormitory, and how it is funded in the long term.
The dormitory has taken much longer than I'd have hoped to get up and running. In part we are in a spiritual battle against an enemy who wants to "steal, kill and destroy" the lives of these vulnerable girls. In part this project has been a big learning curve for many of us involved, and we'd do it differently if we did it again. But hopefully in 2015 we'll see the dormitory up and running, and the whole trajectory of the lives of these girls being changed from one of hopelessness to very real hope.