Today, March 8th, is International Women's Day - a special chance to celebrate the vital contributions women make to all societies, and to take a stand against the injustices that hold women back.
In Zambia, as in all societies, women have had an important historic role and continue to have an essential impact on all walks of life. However, women and girls in Zambia are harmed by significant inequalities in rights and opportunities. This is often particularly true for girls, in a society where 46% of the population is under 15 years old.
Graça Machel memorably said that "if you want to break the cycle of poverty, educate a girl." Our mission is to alleviate poverty in Zambia, and we know from our two decades' experience that a girl who is helped to enjoy her right to education can build a brighter future for herself, her family, and her community.
For this reason, gender has always been a key consideration in the way we plan and implement our work. Together with our partners, we have run special entrepreneurship sessions for girls; used Peer Education to caution against early marriage; and supported 900 girls in Chingola to stay in school through our DREAMS programme.
There is so much to do in Zambia to achieve the goal of gender parity - the theme of this year's celebration. Girls still have lower literacy rates than boys, many girls are made to marry early, and 47% of women have experience violence in their lifetime. This International Women's Day, we re-affirm our commitment to do everything we can to help Zambia's women and girls secure a safer, more independent, and more prosperous future. We're very grateful to all of our supporters, and hope you will continue with his on this journey.
Cecily’s Fund takes very seriously the issues of child protection and accountability. We work in Zambia, where many children and young people are vulnerable – for this reason, it is all the more important for us to have in place robust procedures to protect the individuals and communities with which we work.
We have an extensive child protection policy which sets out the duties of our staff, our partner staff, volunteers, trustees, and consultants. It also contains a code of conduct, communications guidelines, and a formal plan for reporting suspected abuse to the appropriate authorities.
Each of our Zambia-based partners has their own policies in place in accordance with their duty of care. Additionally, Cecily’s Fund is a member of Keeping Children Safe, a global network of 77 organisations committed to protecting the world’s most vulnerable children from exploitation and abuse.
Cecily’s Fund believes that it is essential that we are accountable and transparent both to the communities we serve and the donors who make these interventions possible.
We continue to review and apply our child protection and accountability procedures both in the UK and in Zambia, to ensure that we live up to our belief in respect and dignity for all.
Our latest newsletter has no less than three exciting features fresh from Zambia. These include a piece on supporter Alastair Ramsay, who visited Zambia in December and shares his thoughts (and photos) on the inspiring work of our partners BISO. Also in the newsletter:
- An interview with Cecily's Fund alumnus Melissa about her brighter future after education
- An interview with Roy Mwilu, Executive Director of our partners CHEP
- An update on our Christmas Challenge 2017, including the final total raised
- A story on the impact of our exciting DREAMS programme in Chingola
- "Spirit of Adventure: a look at some of the amazing sponsored events available in 2018
We hope you enjoy the newsletter! Look out for additional issues in May, September and October and be sure to contact us with any comments or queries.
Left: Cecily's Fund co-founder Basil presents Colin Baty, headteacher of Bedales Prep, Dunhurst with a certificate marking the £476 raised by the "Dunhurst Dash". Right: Basil presents a certificate marking the £3,970 raised by over 40 Bedales School participants in the Great South Run.
Three recent events involving Bedales Schools have raised fantastic totals for Cecily's Fund.
In October, over 40 runners associated with Bedales School took part in the Great South Run. Their efforts raised a fantastic £3,970 for Cecily's Fund. At the annual St. Cecilia's Day concert at the school, our co-founder Basil presented three of the youngest runners with a special certificate marking their efforts. The concert itself raised £806, another brilliant sum. In total, Bedales School's fundraising efforts have made £4,776 for Cecily's Fund in October and November.
While Basil was at the Cecilia concert, he was also able to present a certificate to Colin Baty, the headteacher of Bedales Prep, Dunhurst. Through their "Dunhurst Dash" event, the pupils of Dunhurst raised £476 for Cecily's Fund.
Cecily attended Bedales School before she went to Zambia on her gap year in 1997. Cecily's Fund is hugely grateful to all the fundraising done by all of the Bedales Schools in 2017, and across our 20-year history.
The Cecily's Fund Christmas Challenge 2017, with a theme of "Life After School", runs from December 1st to 14th. With your help we can raise £20,000 and continue to help young Zambians build better futures for themselves in 2018.
Our Christmas newsletter is now available to download! Our final issue of the year features the launch of our Christmas Challenge, a recap of this year's Cecily's Day, and much more.
Featuring a brand-new layout, our final newsletter of 2017 summarises what has been another busy year for Cecily's Fund. The key story is the upcoming launch of this year's Christmas Challenge: between December 1st and 14th, we're aiming to once again raise £20,000 to support our work into 2018 and beyond. The theme is "Life After School", and we will be sharing just some of the ways that our work is helping to prepare children in Zambia to live healthy, self-sufficient lives after they've completed their education. Look out for lots more news on the Challenge in coming weeks.
Also in the newsletter:
- A concise recap of Cecily's Day 2017, at which we celebrated our 20th anniversary
- A tribute to our 2017 fundraisers, including those who took part in Swim Serpentine, the London 10K, and the Zam Challenge
- An interview with young "star baker" Lucy Chambers, whose bake sales raised hundreds for Cecily's Fund
- All the details of the great products available in our online shop this Christmas
This Sunday, October 22, over 40 runners with connections to Bedales School in Hampshire will take part in the 2017 Great South Run - raising money for Cecily's Fund and the John Badley Foundation.
Because Cecily attended Bedales, we have had a long association with the school. As our founders Alison and Basil Eastwood have said:
"Cecily loved her time at Bedales (1991-96) - and Bedales loved her. We are delighted that a team from Bedales is doing the Great South Run for Cecily’s Fund."
This year, to mark the 20th anniversary of Cecily's Fund we have been chosen as one of two charities to receive funds from Bedales' participation in the Great South Run. Taking place in Portsmouth, the Great South Run is one of the biggest mass-participation running events in the UK and has a route length of ten miles.
So far a fantastic total of over £4,100 has been raised via Pledgit. Of this sum, half will go to Cecily's Fund and half will go to the John Badley Foundation. To add your own donation, visit Pledgit today. Cecily's Fund thanks all the many runners taking part and hopes they have a fantastic day!
On September 2, 2017 over 100 of our supporters gathered at St. Mary's Church in Witney for Cecily's Day. With special guests in attendance, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of Cecily's Fund and the huge impact we've made together in Zambia since 1997.
Cecily's Day 2017 was special for a number of reasons. For the first time the event took place in Witney, where our office is located. The beautiful St. Mary's Church is just a few minutes' walk from the office and a superb venue. We had the company of guests from around the world, many with a deep connection to the Eastwood family. In addition to our usual roster of speakers, we had a moving communion service, a fantastic choir singing Zambian songs, and the launch of the first-ever Cecily's Fund Supporters' Cookbook.
Communion Service of Thanksgiving
The first part of Cecily's Day was a special communion service of thanksgiving, for which the celebrant was Rob Eastwood Dewing and the server was Charlotte Oakeshott. Readings were given by former Chair William Powlett Smith and former trustee John Fox, while prayers of intercession were led by Cecily's sister Verity.
We were honoured to be joined at Cecily's Day by a number of notable guests:
- Sister Theresa Stapleton joined us from Ireland and spoke about the founding of Children in Distress (CINDI), the organisation with which Cecily volunteered while in Zambia and which the Fund began by supporting. [Read Sister Theresa's speech]
- Patron Sixtus Mulenga and his wife Rebecca visited from Zambia. Sixtus spoke about some young people supported by Cecily's Fund who have become successful, and the need to create more jobs for school leavers.
- Our co-founder Basil Eastwood provided a short history of Cecily's Fund, with some fascinating insights on our transformation from a "kitchen table" concern to a thriving medium-sized charity. [Read Basil's speech]
Special Guests from Zambia
In addition to Sixtus and Rebecca Mulenga, we were joined by two other special guests from Zambia. Beatrice Chola and Patricia Besa joined us from Bwafwano Integrated Services Organisation (BISO), who have been partners of ours since 2003. They kindly answered questions about BISO community school, and explained how Cecily's Fund has really made a difference in the Chazanga area of Lusaka.
Cookbook and Christmas Cards Launch
An extra highlight of Cecily's Day 2017 was the launch of our brand-new Christmas cards and our first ever Supporters' Cookbook. Featuring over 90 recipes submitted by our supporters, the Cookbook breaks new ground for Cecily's Fund and is great value at just £10. Guests at Cecily's Day were the first to be able to buy both of these products, but they are now available to all via our online shop.
Cecily's Day was made possible in part by the tremendous effort of our volunteers, speakers, officials and guests to whom we express our sincere thanks. We also thank all the supporters who attended the event, made donations, bought merchandise, and learned more about our work. Your support not only made Cecily's Day a success, but has also made our work possible since 1997. We hope you will continue to support us for years to come, as we continue our work to help build a more prosperous Zambia where education is available to all.
On Saturday September 16th, Cecily's Fund Trustee and Treasurer Andy Tacon competed the one-mile event at Swim Serpentine. By taking on the cold waters of the Serpentine in London's Hyde Park, Andy has raised over £1,100!
The water temperature was just 15 degrees celsius on the day, making this difficult event more challenging still:
Managed to complete the full mile but have to say it was the most physically demanding thing I've done for a while. The last couple of hundred metres seemed to go on forever as fatigue and the chilly waters started to take their toll. Very pleased to have made it!
Andy has become the third person to complete the swim for Cecily's Fund, after Cecily's sister Verity and Tim Cooke-Hurle took part in the very first event in 2016. In total, well over £3,000 has been raised for our work in Zambia thanks to the efforts of the swimmers and the generous sponsorship from our supporters - for which we are most grateful.
Andy's JustGiving page is still open to donations. The sum he has already raised in sponsorship is enough to help Cecily's Fund keep over 20 children in school for a year: donate today, and Andy's impact can be greater still.