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Training at Monze Resource Centre

Category : News , zambia

We held two training sessions at Monze Resource Centre which were each attended by 18 teachers from local schools. Howard introduced Libre Office Writer and Libre Office Calc which we supplied on donated laptops to three of the more remote schools.

Monze Resource Centre

Teachers soon got to grips with the software and feedback from the session was very positive.

training in Monze Resource Centretraining at Monze Resource centre

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Category : News , solarpower

We planned to visit Kampuna, a rural school built by Friends of Monze. It is a standard design school consisting of 3 classrooms and a head teacher office. It has no mains power.
Our purpose was to install two 320W solar Panels and two 220Amh Batteries to provide power.
We expected to be using the vehicle belonging to the Ministry of Education – a Land Cruiser that can cope well off-road. Due to a mix-up we had no land cruiser. A local boarding school stepped in to provide a lorry!
panels on lorryKampuna community members

Members of the local community helped get the panels on the roof and connected to the batteries. They mounted the solar controller, fuse box and battery gauge neatly on a piece of wood. The solar set up was complete.

up on to the roofsetting up battery and controllers
The school can use solar power to charge laptops, run a projector and have LED lighting. We also installed a Raspberry Pi computer which acts as a wireless hotspot and delivers an off-line learning resource called RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning). This resource contains a vast amount of learning materials to help teachers research unfamiliar subjects, prepare lessons and present them via the projector. It can be accessed via any wireless enabled device.
Some women from the PTA spent a lot of time looking at health guides and at African storybooks.
An enterprising local barber turned up with his clippers and gave Howard a haircut! He had immediately seen the potential of solar power.

gauges for solar set up

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Mwiinga Malimvwa

Category : News , solarpower

Solar Panels for Mwiinga Malimvwa School

Friends of Monze have just completed the building of a 3 classroom school and teacher’s house in the very remote village of Mwiinga Malimvwa.

Villagers made the bricks and provided the labour. Nine young people were trained as apprentice bricklayers on the project. All completed the qualification including three young women.

Giakonda Solar Schools installed two solar panels to provide power for LED lighting, laptops and a projector. We also set up RACHEL on a Raspberry Pi so that the school has a large learning resource.

Mwiinga Malimvwa viewExplaining parts of solar set upsolar set upsolar panelsattaching to batterysetting up panelsUp on to the roofpanels in place

Today was the official handover to the District Education Board Secretary. About 400 people turned up to join the celebration, and partake of the feast.. There was singing and dancing, but also a lot of long speeches!

dancingpupils waiting to danceYoung female bricklayer

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Bees Knees!

Category : News , zambia

Rural schools in Zambia are very short of money. With that in mind, Giakonda Solar Schools has started a project to provide an income for Bbakasa, Matuwa, Kabbila and Kawila Schools.

We sent down a beekeeper trainer from Monze to run a three day course. The four schools and a Women’s Group sent representatives, and there were a total of 18 attendees.

Theory of beekeepingPhillip demonstrating

Phillip taught them with a mix of classroom learning and hands on experience. They looked at the topbar hives we bought them and melted beeswax to paste inside the hives to attract bees. We are amazed to report that one of the hives already has bees!

bee suittrying on the suits

We supplied two types of bee suits for the trainee beekeepers to use – one resembling white overalls with a hat and veil attached; the other a long jacket with the hood and veil.

melting beeswax to paste on the hivea topbar hanging in tree

Although African bees have a fiercesome reputation, no-one was frightened off! They are very enthusiastic indeed and have told us they intend to form a cooperative.


We are very excited that this project has got off to such a good start.

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Category : zambia

We visited Lushomo Primary School in Monze to see how they are using the Raspberry Pi computer with RACHEL offline learning resource. We have refurbished 5 laptops for them on behalf of Friends of Monze.

donated laptops

We held a training session for their teachers to familiarise themselves with the laptops and their software. This included a reminder of how to access RACHEL and opportunity for teachers to feed back on interesting information they found on the resource.

Teachers feeding back their researchgirls using donated laptop

The afternoon ended with a very brave Howard teaching computer science to a class of 90 Grade 5 pupils (via an interpreter as these rural children have little English!)

class of 90Showing the insides of  a computer

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Upcoming projects

Category : News , zambia

We’ve been busy preparing for our upcoming projects.
getting ready for upcoming projects


In June/ July 2018 we will be installing solar equipment at two remote schools built by Friends of Monze on behalf of their trustees. The set up consists of  two 35oW solar panels and  two 220Ah deep cycle batteries. This powers LED lighting, Raspberry Pi with RACHEL learning resources, a projector and laptops.

We have organised a wide reaching training agenda for them. This will include Using and Maintaining the Solar panel System, Using RACHEL on a Raspberry Pi to access educational resources, and Securing and Maintaining a Computer Network.


We are also applying for grant funding to equip six more schools in Siavonga District with the same solar system. That would bring the grand total there to 17!

We are in the process of being registered as an NGO in Zambia which will make it easier to take out computer equipment to the schools we support.

Read more about our project in Zambia here.


In October we are planning to travel to Tanzania to work with Heshima . All very exciting!

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Shipment to Zambia

Category : News , zambia

We’ve just had a busy two days picking up a large amount of donated PCs and monitors and taking them down to Folkestone for shipment to Zambia.

We are most grateful to the donors of the kit, (who wish to remain anonymous) and to Dr Organics in Swansea who have kindly stored pallets of monitors in their warehouse for us.

Paul Moorefield  lent his muscle and driving skills and most of all we thank Lyn Callander at Operation Sunshine. 100 computers and 80 monitors are now on their long journey to Zambia via Dar Es Salaam.

Lyn, Wendy, Howard and Paul in front of container

When they arrive, four of the secondary schools we help will have the makings of a new computer room each.

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Lakeshore schools

Category : News , solarpower , zambia

Lakeshore Schools

Early start as we had to go to the harbour for 6.30am start for visit to lakeside schools. In the event we actually left just before 8am despite an assurance that we would not be working on Zambian time!

A trip by boat to Lakeshore schoolsLake Kariba

We were joined by the educational standards officer (representing DEBS), water engineers bringing a refurbished pump, and environmental health officers who wanted to talk to the village communities about cholera and the importance of good sanitation.

We used a small speed boat which managed to hold four 60KG batteries, four solar panels, assorted solar equipment and tools and 8 people. Due to our late departure, we bounced over waves as the wind rises between 8.30 and 11am each day.

Manchamvwa Lakeshore Primary School

After a couple of hours (and rather splashed!) we neared Manchamvwa Lakeshore village. Our captain had to negotiate his way carefully past a sunken forest whose bare branches showed above the water. A large amount of the area we were sailing over becomes fertile fields in the dry season. Many people had taken a chance on planting maize, but the abundant rains this year had left it brown and under a few feet of water.

A group of older pupils helped us carry the equipment a kilometre to the school. Howard revised the process of solar installation with school staff and PTA members, then started connecting things up.

Solar panels for Lakeshore schoolsolar panels for Lakeshore school

looking at RACHEL elearning resourceLED lights working at Lakeshore school

I showed members of staff the laptops we had brought and demonstrated how to use them to access Raspberry Pi with its off-line digital resources (RACHEL). This school has 415 pupils who come in a morning or afternoon session to be taught by the five teachers.

We met the local headmen, PTA and a large group of parents who had assembled to receive advice on keeping cholera away by good sanitation practices. We told them about our project and received a very warm welcome. They expressed thanks for the fact that we had promised to bring solar power to them and had actually done so, unlike other organisations in the past.

village meeting at Lakeshore schoolsolar panels for Lakeshore schhol

Munyama Primary School

Next we took to the boat to return along Lake Kariba to Munyama School. Again pupils carried the equipment and we walked behind through long grass. The vegetation in both these villages is lush and green with bright red birds and dragonflies flying around.


Howard re-capped the process of solar installation and then we stopped for a much-needed lunch of nshima, goat meat and rape leaves. Suitably refreshed, we carried on with the task in hand.

Pupils wanted to sing for us – lovely melodic singing- and say some poetry. One little girl in particular moved me when she said, “We children are all the same. Why should not the rural child have the same opportunities as the urban child?”

This is an inequality we are working to redress to the best of our ability.

The school had been obliged to close because there was no water for handwashing and flushing toilets. The water engineers had brought a pump with them to get things working again. We watched with bated breath as they tested it – thankfully all was well. It is a large pump which needs a generator to power it. We had hoped to provide a solar solution but the number of panels required to power it would be too expensive. We are researching how we might assist either by a smaller solar pump, or possibly by providing a clean storage tank.

Back along the Lake to Siavonga after a busy but rewarding day. Not only had we brought solar power to two remote schools, but our visit had also facilitated the delivery of the pump, and the inspection and training of communities in good sanitation.

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Training in Zambia

Category : News , zambia

Saturday / Sunday

Howard finally got Siavonga Primary School’s Windows server working with its thin clients. We helped students from Siavonga High School to prepare for a presentation they are going to do at Youth Day all about Raspberry Pi and RACHEL

Monday Youth Day

Local schools and youth organisations marched around town finishing up at the football field.
They demonstrated a range of traditional songs and dance, interspersed with drama sketches, majorettes and a brass band.
Finally, the invited guests visited some exhibitions that schools had set up. Our young friends from Siavonga High School showed how RACHEL can be accessed through a Raspberry Pi. This piqued the interest of the Zesco (Electricity) engineers who invited Howard to address a meeting of the Zambian Institute of Engineers on Saturday.
The theme of this year’s Youth Day was “Leveraging Opportunities through ICT”.

SHS pupils demonstrating at Youth dayEngineering Institute Zambia conference


We held training at Siavonga High School for teachers interested in teaching programming and running a Code Club.

Scratch trainingscratch training

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International Women’s Day

Category : News , zambia

International Women’s Day, 8th March, was a very joyous day in Siavonga.  Our landlady Florence and I, in matching chtengas, joined the march through Siavonga town led by the local Salvation Army. The parade was a riot of colour as each organisation or group had coordinated their outfits. After a delayed start, we finally arrived at the local football field only two hours late!

international womens dayinternational womens day

We were about to leave after the opening addresses but were called back by one of the local Headteachers to join the invited guests under a marquee and watch the rest of the proceedings. These consisted of performances by local women’s groups and schools. The female engineers of Zesco gave a presentation about power generation and transmission. There was a lot of singing and dancing – including crowd participation! Children from Siavonga Basic School really impressed us with their school choir and two memorable dance and drama offerings.

international womens dayinternational womens day

During all this we were plied with soft drinks and biscuits which was just as well as it was very hot. Lunch followed and then we paid a small fee to join a lake cruise to fund-raise for Youth Day (12th March). We spent much of the time discusiing our project with DEBS (District Education Board Secretary), in particular issues around getting to two lakeside villages next week to fit solar panels.