During a visit to Zambia in March 2009, MAMA’s CEO Mark Fraser and General Manager Paul Singer visited the Sishemo Education Trust Primary School in Lusaka.
Despite the adversity faced by the children, Mark and Paul were inspired by the incredible optimism of the students and teachers. They saw wonderful potential for the school and immediately commenced discussions with the school on possible project partnerships.
At the time, the school catered for approximately 150 students between the ages of 6 and 13. Many of these kids are either orphans of HIV/AIDS, live in child-run households, or are otherwise vulnerable to exploitation. In their homes many of these children have no electricity or running water.
The school has inadequate learning materials and insufficient text books to enable a basic reading program.
After registering as a charity in November 2009, MAMA funded its first project on 21 December 2009 to provide textbooks and an industrial sewing machine to the Sishemo Education Trust.
With MAMA’s books, the school immediately introduced an intensified reading program to improve the students’ reading and writing skills, vocabulary and communication skills.
As a result of the purchase of the industrial machine, the school opened the Sishemo Leather Centre to produce quality leather products for sale in the local markets. Revenue raised from the sales funded the school feeding program. In a community where 53% of the children eat one meal a day, and 43% eat irregularly and often spend nights hungry, the school feeding program was instrumental in improving student performance.
With the implementation of the feeding program, school hours were extended from 4 hours 30 minutes to 7 hours 30 minutes, significantly enhancing productivity and the children’s capacity for learning.
Following the success of the first projects, in October 2010 MAMA encouraged Sishemo to think big – to take a good look at what would make a real impact in the lives of these children and help them reach their full potential. The result was the first MAMA Resource Centre, fully equipped with text books, reading books, 28 computers, an art room and other educational resources.
Construction commenced in early January 2011, and was officially opened on 15 June 2011. Members of MAMA’s management team privately funded their own travel to attend the opening.