STUDENTS gave up their half-term to support young women in Eastern Zambia with educational aspirations by building a new school for them.
A group of 15 pupils from St Mary’s School, Calne, flew out to Zambia on October 23 after two years of planning and fundraising to build dormitories and classrooms in the remote Chipata and Chama region.
Their trip focused on helping the Anglican Street Children’s Programme, set up to bring children back into the education system and away from child labour.
On arrival the girls were greeted by Father Katete, director of the programme, as well as members of the Mothers’ Union who sang a traditional Zambian greeting.
They used the brick-making machine they had purchased, working early in the morning while it was still cool, and collecting water from the village pump 2km away.
During the trip they were summoned by the village chief, who had arranged traditional music and dancing, and in return they taught villagers the Macarena.
They visited a primary school to play with pupils, and handed out 327 bras collected for local schoolgirls.
The group was also thrilled to hear a promise from the Minister of Education to allow any girl under the age of 18 forced into early marriage to legally divorce their husbands and return to education.
Housemistress Karen Paddock, who accompanied the girls, said they had worked hard and had come home with many life-long memories.
The school will be named after St Mary’s and pupils will continue to support it in the future, with plans already under way for the next trip.
Mrs Paddock said: “Our trip was an amazing experience, and the school we helped to build will be a lasting legacy for girls in Eastern Zambia.
“They now have options for their future, to have an education and aspirations other than just being married off at a young age. Policies and attitudes are beginning to change for girls in Zambia.
“Governments now accept that if you educate a girl, she will go on to educate her children, so they are encouraging all girls in Zambia to make the right choice, and St Mary’s Calne is proud to have been a part of this change.”