Ngwenya Literacy Project

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Srs. Fidelma O'Neill and Frances Rooney (centre) with members of Ngwenya Literacy Project

The Ngwenya Literacy Project was started about eight years ago by a group of people who lived and worked near the stone quarry in Ngwenya Compound.  Their desire was to enhance their quality of life by improving their literacy skills and other skills such as knitting, sewing, embroidery and mat-making and to increase their income by selling their products.

Involvement of Franciscan Sisters:
We became involved at the request of the members who realised their need for help with organising the project and also with skills-training. As they were conducting classes in a small thatched hut, they requested us, as time went on, for funds to build a permanent structure. We applied to and received the necessary funding from Combined Services Third World Fund in Dublin. We are most grateful for this help which enabled us to erect two classrooms.

We have been able to purchase a good supply of basic textbooks; some sewing machines; two knitting machines; sewing and knitting materials and also build a poultry house. None of this would have been possible without funding from 'Misean Cara', 'Apostolic Word Society' groups in various Irish dioceses, 'Ministry of Community Development' here in Zambia and from our family members and friends.

Books and sewing machines are handed over
Books and sewing machines are handed over
Training was secured for some local volunteers in the teaching of Adult Literacy and follow- up courses have also been made available. Skills - training in sewing, knitting, baking and poultry - keeping are on-going for the learners at the Literacy Centre.

Training in life skills such as Entrepreneurship and Household Management was arranged and workshops on such topics as Gender Based Violence, Substance Abuse, Environment/Sanitation and Child Protection were made available. Participants found all of these very helpful.

Sr. Fidelma and I enjoy working with the group - giving some input and helping to co- ordinate the various activities. At times, of course, it is an uphill struggle and all the beneficiaries face many challenges in the often harsh reality of their day-to-day lives. They are most grateful for all the help they get, especially for the funding from the various groups in Ireland. Words cannot convey adequately the gratitude that they and we feel. May God bless each one.

Sr. Frances Rooney FMSA