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Eleanor HillThe Estelle Trust is a small charitable fund which works with others on schemes to improve education, health and governance in Africa and runs a small number of its own projects in Zambia. Ashgate donates a proportion of its profits to the Trust each year, and Ashgate/Gower staff members are also involved in supporting the Estelle Trust through various fund raising activities. Recently, Eleanor Hill, Ashgate’s e-books Administrator, went one step further. She spent a week with Project Luangwa in Zambia, helping them with database design for their child sponsorship and building project management. This is her account of her visit.

The Estelle Trust has close links with Project Luangwa in Zambia. The Trust funded the building of a library for Mfuwe Secondary School which is now built and stocked with books but not yet open pending the cataloguing of the books by a volunteer. Karen and Dave (who run Project Luangwa) are particularly delighted to be seeing this volunteer again as they know him, and know that he will do a thorough and accurate job! He will also be doing some training of both staff and students before the official opening of the library.

Mfuwe Secondary School Library

The purpose of my visit was to analyse and design a couple of databases to help with the administration of the Project. One will help Karen with the Sponsorship records, currently held in 134 separate spreadsheets and the other will help Dave administer his building projects and allow him to produce more accurate estimates for each new school block or teachers house they build. Having succeeded in producing the designs I will now have plenty to occupy my evenings and weekends turning the designs into working databases.

Mfuwe baboon

I had been told to expect views of wildlife across the lagoon outside the office window but hadn’t expected the wildlife to be quite so up close and personal!

I couldn’t be more impressed with the work that Karen and Dave do in providing educational opportunities for orphans in rural Zambia. AIDS is not the only killer out there and there are huge numbers of orphans who would have no hope of an education if it weren’t for the work they do. And, as if poverty were not enough of a handicap, the girls have to overcome even more obstacles to get the chance to achieve their potential, which is where the Mfuwe Secondary School Girls’ club comes into its own.  This is a wonderful group of girls all from problem backgrounds, who are determined to improve their lot. I attended their weekly meeting where they had a guest speaker – the delightfully down to earth, unshockable and entertaining local western doctor whose brief was to answer any questions the girls wanted to ask – Karen and I both learned things there too. At the end of the meeting there was great excitement as Karen had some T shirts and knickers to hand out to the girls – see below:

Mfuwe Secondary School Girls' Club

If you want to find out more about the sort of lives and problems the girls can look forward to in this area do take a look at the following link http://www.projectluangwa.org/gendersupport

If anyone is interested in making a donation to the very worthwhile work that Karen and Dave are doing in Zambia, you can find more information here: http://www.projectluangwa.org/library

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