This picture represents a huge answer to prayer, as it shows work starting on building the girls dormitory in Serenje, a rural community in Zambia we as a church have been involved with for the last 5 years. For those of you who don't know this is a project to build a dormitory for 100 girls in secondary education, saving them from having to live in a slum area where currently only 5% of them actually complete their schooling.
The girl on the left here is one of the girls who will hopefully end up in the dormitory. She's stood outside the 'house' that she sleeps, cooks and lives in while she's at school. What you can't see is that just behind her home is a bar with a bunch of guys who even this early in the day are already drunk. Most of the girls fail to complete their education because they get pregnant, many of them are raped and a number of them contract HIV/AIDS in the process. It's because of these girls that we, and the people we work with in Serenje, are so passionate about seeing the dormitory built. If they were our daughters we would do everything in our power to keep them safe - we want to do the same for these girls.
Ralph Allen, who did the initial design for the dormitory, recently went out to Serenje to see how the dormitory building is going. The great news is that we now have a builder, a fully costed plan and timescales we actually believe are achievable which should see the dormitory completed by April 2014 (assuming the rainy season doesn't come too early and isn't too rainy!).
The not quite so good news is that the cost has gone up since it was first all costed 3 years ago. We thought then that it would cost £125,000 to complete. With a contingency fund the expected cost is now £196,500. There are various reasons for the increase, including inflation, changes in the exchange rates and things not included in the original estimate such as getting electricity onto the site. However, we still feel strongly that we should still go ahead with building what we set out to build in the beginning.
We therefore need to look at raising another £71,500. How are we going to do that you may ask - a very good question.
- First of all we're going to pray. If you're free please come and join us at the finance prayer meeting at 6am every Thursday where this will be high on the agenda. God has a habit of answering these sorts of prayer in spectacular ways.
- We're looking at identifying grant giving organisations who might want to join the project - if you know of any please let us know.
- I know that individuals, both within and outside Kerith will want to give. If that's you then please either give online (use the regular giving option and send a message to Helen Dodwell so that she know your giving is for the dormitory), or use one of the regular Sunday giving envelopes and write Serenje Dormitory on the form.
- If we don't have all the money by Christmas we'll take up our regular Christmas Day offering for the dormitory, looking to raise enough to cover whatever shortfall we have.
Finally a few people have asked me whether we also have the money to fit out the dormitory with beds, chairs, tables, kitchen equipment and everything else they'll need. Currently we have about £15,000 for this which was raised by the bike ride Howard Reece-Smith, Ralph Hazell and others did to Istanbul earlier this year. We're currently trying to get a more accurate estimate of what the fit out will cost to make sure that is going to be enough.
Hope that all makes sense. It's so exciting to think that we're going to be able to provide a safe place for these girls to complete their education.