Luse Family Centre
Luse Family Centre – committed to the wellbeing of children and families – which was officially opened on September 24th, 2010 is the realisation of a 20 year old dream of many women in Mazabuka. These women had experienced the suffering and devastation caused by HIV/AIDS and they were concerned that the children were in need of special care. The young mothers too needed help in rearing and socialising their children. Being believers in the adage ‘the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world’ spurred us on to help bring their vision to reality. We are very grateful to the many donors who came to our aid: Monze Diocese; Mercy Congregation; Irish Aid; St. Mary’s Parish, Rathfarnham; Mercy School, Navan; families and friends.
Our Programmes At Luse Family Centre
Our core programme is Lifestart Mazabuka. At the present moment we have 543 children and 462 families enrolled in 13 compounds. Taking care of the programme is Mrs Agnes Nyoni, programme manager, four family visitors and a secretary.
What is Lifestart?
Lifestart is a home visitation, educational programme based on ‘The Growing Child’ material issued by Dunn and Hargitt, Inc. Indiana. The programme concentrates on the birth to five year age-group and their parents/guardians. The programme is facilitated by family visitors who, on a monthly basis, deliver age-appropriate child development materials to the participating families. These materials have been carefully adapted to fit the vernacular and culture of the Mazabuka area and already the entire ‘Growing Child’ has been adapted and translated into one of the major languages in Mazabuka, namely Chitonga. Family visitors are predominantly local people and many are parents themselves.
Central to Lifestart is the uniqueness of each child and the work of parents in developing the child’s potential. The home is acknowledged as the primary learning environment and parents as the primary educators, extending into the local community and to the wider global community.
Preschool For Five And Six Year Olds
Children here in Zambia do not officially enter the national school until they are 7 years of age. Unless parents can pay a fee for a private pre-school, children are left without the vital teaching that is so necessary to enable them to keep up with those children who had pre-school, resulting in many children disliking it intensely and then dropping out of school early.
We only cater for those children whose parents cannot afford private pre-schools and our hope is to give our children a love for learning and a good early school experience. We cater for 50 children and have two pre-school teachers.
Many children and adults were identified by the family visitors to be suffering from trauma and loss/grief. Children have been orphaned not only by their biological parents but also by the death of the extended family who assumed responsibility for them. This, too, could even happen two or three times leaving severely traumatised children.
Rainbows in some small way helps them cope with their loss and grief and gives them some consolation in knowing that they are not to blame for their parents’ deaths. This programme is facilitated by the family visitors and the Programme Manager.
Our first intake of pre-school children soon told us that some of their parents were illiterate. They felt very inadequate that they were not able to read to their children or help them with school activities. Soon they were asking for help in reading and writing. Our present class includes 28 women and 4 men who never attended school even for one day. Three two hour sessions are held weekly and the outcome is very rewarding.
Mazabuka is a large town on the main Cape to Cairo route with a population of 35,000 people in 17 compounds. The main source of income is Nakambala Sugar Estate which gives permanent employment to 3,250. During peak operation the total reaches 8,100. It is sad to note that there is not a public or private library to cater for this population.
In Luse Family Centre we now have a very well-stocked library with almost 5000 books, thanks mainly to Meath County Library. Children from the neighbouring schools are encouraged to visit and read and we foresee that this service will be an important feature in developing the imagination and beauty of each individual.