Various members from Mnkhanya Primary School, CARE Zambia, SHE SOARS, CARE USA, and CARE Canada.

Barbara Grantham – Travel Diary, Part Two

Recently I returned from my first trip to visit CARE projects in Africa since I became President and CEO of CARE Canada in April 2020. It was a wonderful and inspiring visit to Zambia and Morocco, meeting incredible people and learning how CARE and our partners are supporting women’s leadership. Here is an excerpt from the diary I kept throughout my travels:

DAY 4

Today we headed to a more rural area of Zambia—Mwambe District, near the Malawian border—to visit members of the  SHE SOARS project team who are working to improve adolescent sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR), as well as other projects focusing on early childhood development and SRHR.

First, we visited the Muzyka Rural Health Centre, a Mwambe health clinic run by the Catholic Church. Sister Hilda gave us an overview of the services provided at this clinic: mostly primary health care, including a lot of maternity care. At the clinic we met with 15 CARE and Live Well Community Health Entrepreneurs (CHE), both women and men. It was inspiring to learn what they enjoy about being a CHE, the benefits, what they sell, how the program can be improved, and what it means for them, their families, and their communities.

Sister Hilda speaking to a group sitting in chairs, taking notes.
Sister Hilda giving us an overview of the services provided at this clinic. Gift Katuta/CARE

We also spent a considerable amount time at the Mnkhanya primary school outside of Chimangali. The school’s head teacher, Ms. Phiri, gave us an overview of the school and the four focus areas of the Nyenyezi program:

  • Early Childhood Education (ECE)
  • Early Childhood Development (ECD)
  • Accelerated learning for those who have left school and/or have little to no literacy
  • Positive reinforcement for learning with parents at home

We even had the opportunity to visit an ECE class session lead by Mr. Zulu, a local parent who received training in ECE techniques. The singing, the games, and the classroom aids he made were all a joy to see.

A teacher and group of students sing a song at the Mnkhanya Primary School school outside Chimangali. Barbara Grantham/CARE

We then visited a classroom of accelerated learners for young people who have left school and are being actively encouraged to come back. The accelerated learning class includes teenage parents, older mothers who want to share school experiences with their children, etc. The visit showcased a beautiful intersection of two CARE projects at the same school: SHE SOARS, which aims to give out-of-school adolescent girls the opportunity to return to school and, Nyenyezi, an early childhood education/development program that provides childcare to the children of the adolescent girls.

Our last formal stop of the day was to the Mnkhyana Health Clinic. We had the opportunity to hear about the adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (ASRHR) services offered at this clinic.

The clinic is a SHE SOARS project site and supports a larger percentage of adolescent mothers (up to 60% in some regions). I learned a lot in my time with the clinic staff, but it was the conversation with the young people that really drove home the importance of CARE’s work here.

We asked this smart group lots of questions: What do you want from this project? What is holding you back? What are the key issues for young people who live here?

They were very clear in saying to us:

“There is no point in offering services here at the clinic if we don't have support to take these messages home to our parents,” and “This project will be a success if in time, we have lower rates of pregnancy, more of us finish high school, and if fewer of us who are still in school are getting pregnant. That must be the goal here.”

Barbara and a member of the Nyenyezi program staff chat.
Visiting the Mnkhanya Primary School. Gift Katuta/CARE
Chikwe and Chris standing beside a silver truck, pointing to the CARE and SHE SOARS logos on the door.
Chikwe, Country Director for CARE Zambia, and Chris, Associate Country Director for Care Zambia. Barbara Grantham/CARE

DAY 5

By Saturday morning we were a smaller group, as most of the CARE USA team had gone home. We were eating breakfast when we found out that our plans for the day would have to change due to a positive COVID test. We stayed at the hotel and had a fascinating discussion with Felistas, the District Education Board Supervisor (DEBS), about the educational challenges, opportunities, goals and recent outcomes in the region. The key challenges are a lack of infrastructure, lack of teachers, and lack of capacity.

Last day in Zambia and on to Morocco!

On Sunday night, I left Lusaka and took an overnight flight to Doha, Qatar, landing there in time for morning tea! It was a quick one, as I had a short layover before my next flight to  Morocco, landing in Casablanca on Monday afternoon to warm, humid weather.

My first evening in Morocco was spent over dinner with Hlima Razkaoui, the CARE Morocco National Director and the CARE Morocco Board Chair, Ismail Douiri.

Photo taken from the middle of a street. Shops down the right hand side with various textiles.
Casablanca, Morocco. Barbara Grantham/CARE
Photo of a sea wall and seaside.
Casablanca, Morocco. Barbara Grantham/CARE