Sunday, 26 June 2016

Shattering Glass Ceilings

My sister Rhi has been volunteering at Kapumpe for three months now. I asked her to tell you a bit more about things from her point of view...

When I arrive at Kapumpe Christian Primary School I can’t help but smile. It is like an oasis in the desert after seeing the schools and community in the local area. The excitement and joy shown by the children when they return from their school holidays is evidence of how much they enjoy attending. The staff at Kapumpe are a group of inspiring individuals, a mixture of Zambian and British, who each bring their own skills and passion to the school. They work hard and meet every day to pray for the school as well as for individual children. It has been a privilege for me to be able to work alongside them over the last three months and I wanted to give you an insight into the people who run Kapumpe and the difference they are making to the lives of the children here.

Siblings at Kapumpe

Josephine is the pre-school teacher at Kapumpe. She lives on the same compound as us so we also get to see her outside of school. Josephine is experienced in early years teaching and has a remarkable ability to be very caring of the children whilst remaining incredibly professional. She always shows such positivity, respect and gratitude in conversations and I can’t think of a better influence for the young children in the pre-school class.

Josephine outside with the pre-school class

Rosie teaches the Grade 1 class consisting of 25 children ranging from ages 4–9, most of who do not yet speak English. Rosie is great at picking up on behavioural and emotional needs within her class, and I am constantly surprised by how well she knows each of them individually. She is expanding the school's support for emotional and developmental needs by introducing ‘nurture groups’ starting with children from her class. These groups are designed to allow some of the more deprived children to experience the kind of basic play that most children experience at a young age.

Rosie in Grade 1

Lorraine is the teaching assistant for Grade 1 and has recently become more involved in teaching the class which she seems to have taken in her stride. As Lorraine is Zambian, she teaches the children in Bemba (the local language) to help them understand, whilst still incorporating English to make sure they are learning the language. Lorraine’s straight-talking nature and creative ideas for bringing the Zambian culture into the curriculum means she is a real asset to the school.


Fatima is the Grade 2 teacher. Last year she shared the teaching with Ellie, so this is her first year with responsibility for her own class. Fatima is a true Arise success story. She was previously sponsored by Arise, has gained a qualification in teaching and has been a part of Kapumpe since it started. Fatima is an inspiration to the people in the local area as she does not allow physical disability to limit her career progression and education. She supports many children in the community by helping them with their homework and tutoring those who are struggling.

Fatima with Charlie who visited Kapumpe recently
(where she taught the first class in 2014)

Naomi shares the teaching of Grade 3 with Bright. Naomi plays a key role in implementing the Zambian curriculum and establishing the syllabus for Grade 3, which is a new class for Kapumpe this year. Anyone who meets Naomi can see her passion for teaching. She shows such dedication to teaching the children and introducing them to topics they wouldn’t usually get to learn about. Naomi’s positivity and enthusiasm is infectious and is one of the reasons for Kapumpe’s unique culture.

Bright is a recently qualified teacher who is being mentored by Naomi. He has a calm and caring manner and is a great example for many of the boys at the school who lack good male role models. Bright’s passion for learning and care for the children is evident to all who work with him. His positive and gentle attitude has already been a great benefit to the school.

Naomi and Bright teaching Grade 3

Two other staff that help to keep Kapumpe running so well are Doris and John. Doris is an Arise guardian who is employed at the school as cook and cleaner. She is a diligent and willing worker, arriving early every morning to cook porridge for the children and always doing any extra jobs that are asked of her. John is the gardener who spends many hours slashing grass and doing caretaking jobs. He always smiles and particularly enjoys helping to look after the Arise farming project.


Ellie is now the head teacher of Kapumpe. Whilst it is new for me to see my sister in such a position of responsibility firsthand, it is exciting to see her skills and experience utilised in such an effective way. She has a gentle and non-assuming approach to management that empowers the rest of the teaching staff. Her willingness to take responsibility and make decisions means that she is a reliable and approachable head teacher. She faces the challenge of leading the staff in developing the school so that it can serve the community for many years to come.

Ellie leading assembly

The main thing that stands out for me when I think about Kapumpe is the difference it makes to the children who attend the school. Because many of them come from orphaned or abandoned backgrounds, the staff need to support them emotionally and spiritually as well as academically. In other local schools here, the lack of resources, unrealistic testing system and huge class sizes (70+ children to a class) results in limited prospects for the majority of pupils. We recently discovered that one of the boys supported by Arise is in Grade 5 at the local community school, is still unable to write his own name. Sadly this is not uncommon and means that very few children are able to break out of the cycle of poverty and unemployment as they grow older.

Girls in Arise who attend the local government primary school

It’s become clear to me that Kapumpe is a beacon of hope in the local community. However, limited resources still have an impact. Many of the children at Kapumpe will leave school with a better education than those in their communities, but this does not necessarily mean they will be able to afford the training it requires to progress further with education or a career. One of the challenges that Arise faces is the number of young adults who have been sponsored through the school system but now can’t afford to attend higher education.  We have therefore decided to set up a scholarship system to help some of these people who are unable to afford the training they require to seek skilled employment. Applicants to this scheme will be required to complete an application form, attend an interview and contribute towards their tuition fees.

We have recently met with a number of young adults who have been offered places on vocational courses to become nurses, teachers and mechanics but lack the funds to be able to attend the relevant vocational training. It is our hope that later in the year through the new scholarship scheme, we will be able to offer support to some of these motivated and proactive young people. If you would like further information on how you can support us in this, please contact us at or through the Arise Facebook page.

The pre-school class at Kapumpe recently performed a short poem in assembly. The poem includes a line that says “I am a future leader”. It is our hope and prayer here in Kaniki that the children of Kapumpe will be able to shatter the glass ceilings that have been put over them and defy the expectations that the world places on them. We believe that they have the potential to change their communities, city and nation.

Current pre-school children and future leaders

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