Ipalo Christian Community School ZAMBIA
Way back in 2009 an email from an old colleague pops up:
“I’ve managed to score a job that pays no money and requires me to bludge from friends and associates...” it read.
This lighthearted contact started the ball rolling, an excuse to work with old friends and help less fortunate children along the way seemed too good to pass up.
The place in question: Kasompe, a small town located 3km southeast of Chingola in the Copperbelt Province, Zambia. Like much of Zambia the region is poverty stricken and many children live underprivileged lives. Education and health standards are low and many families go without the bare essentials.
Zambia’s Child, a non denominational Christian organisation, was established in 2007 with an aim to help Zambian children and their families live a better life. Part of their vision was to provide education and welfare to support the community and provide a brighter future for the children of Zambia. The Ipalo Christian Community School (ICCS) idea was born.
PAADesign is proud to have been involved in the project on a pro bono basis since 2009 to help make the vision a reality.
2009 - A suitable site is found
PAADesign prepared site master planning options and started designing some of the initial buildings for the site. This provided Zambia’s Child with a starting point and direction to help them secure funding and donations. The master plan included a school catering for infants, primary, junior high and senior high as well as supporting amenities and onsite boarding accommodation. After much planning and negotiations, without warning in 2012, the local Council told the school that the site was to be taken over by a mining company.
2012 - The new site and the new build
The local Council found a new site for the school. PAADesign assisted in the master planning, staging of the site works and the design of the buildings for the school. Consideration is given to the siting of uses and buildings, connections and shade. Climate is a very important consideration as well as how the buildings are used initially and in the future. The design considers staging and addresses adaptability of buildings for different purposes. Building modules allow various uses in the initial stages and then to become classrooms at later stages as the student numbers grow.
Finally after 4 years the school opens
After sufficient funds were raised, stage 1 was constructed using a traditional building approach allowing the buildings to be built by the local community and therefore creating additional jobs and keeping costs down.
The school officially opened in January 2013 with the first Grade 1 students, a teacher and a caretaker. All of the years planning and dreaming had paid off - The ICCS was a real school now.
Fast forward 10 years to 2020 and the first senior school intake
Over the years the school has grown to over 200 students across grades 1 to 7 completing stages 1, 2 and 3.
In February of this year the school celebrated a significant event - It held its first Grade 7 graduation ceremony. The first children to start at the school had now completed their primary schooling at ICCS. Those pupils passed their exams and are now starting Grade 8 - complete with uniforms and ties, much to their delight.
The School advises that the Covid-19 pandemic has at this point been well contained in Zambia. However, the school like most around the world has been shut down to limit the spread of the virus and protect the community. The 20th of March was the last day at school but luckily the staff had a weeks notice to prepare school work for the students to take home with them. This shut down has been hardest on the pupils. On top of missing lessons and their friends they are also missing their daily nourishing meal. For some this is the only sustenance they get.
Unfortunately, food shortages and price inflation have began to set in locally, putting additional pressure on families. Thankfully Zambia's Child has been able to organise and pass on food supplies to the school families to help them survive during this time of uncertainty. This includes mealie meal, salt, cooking oil and soap, which a representative of the family can collect from the School once a month.
The Zambian government announced that Grade 7 (exam classes) could resume on the 1st of June. Care has been taken by staff setting up hand washing points, sanitising surfaces, screening students and keeping records. In the meantime the food assistance is continuing for the school families and it is hoped that the other Grades will be allowed to return to school soon.
We hope that the School and its wider community can emerge from the pandemic and continue to grow and prosper as it has for the past 7 years. Education and health are such important parts of life and we are thrilled to have had a small hand in making it a reality. We look forward to continuing to provide master planning and design as the school requires and seeing how far it can grow in the future.
To find out more head over to https://zambiaschild.ngo/ to follow their story and see the difference they are making.