Get into the Christmas spirit with Masasewee, Maxwell and Mercy in Zambia!

Posted on by Sophie Hicks

Family 5 Masasewee, Maxwell and MercyWho is starting to feel festive? We’d love to introduce to you to a family who is really getting into the Christmas spirit! Meet Masasewee and his grand-children: Maxwell and Mercy, both 15. Maxwell, Mercy and their six younger sisters have been living with Masasewee and their grand-mother Chipoca since their parents sadly passed away three years ago.

Maxwell and Mercy are both in Grade 8 at Bwacha Basic School, an African Revival supported school within the town of Kalomo, Zambia. Masasewee, a retired policeman, actually founded the school back in 2006, and currently still serves as the school’s PTA chairman! Unsurprisingly, his grand-children are extremely proud of him! Mercy told us: We like our school; the teachers are good to the pupils-they teach us how to live in the future and explain things we don’t know. We are very proud of him- he does good work! He helps people in the community- making bore-holes and things like that.However, that Masasewee’s passion for education and his local community has rubbed off on his grand-children, as Maxwell told us that his greatest Christmas wish this year is for our school to have even more pupils so that even more children in our community can be educated”.

College building

Although their house is already pretty full, the family enjoy celebrating Christmas with others, especially relatives, neighbours and friends! As Mercy explained, normally on Christmas day “we usually go to church and pray and worship and then come home, and make a small party at home. We cook special foods like rice, chicken and bread, and we buy nice drinks like sodas”. The children’s grandmother Chipoca normally takes charge of the preparations, but all the girls are always at her side to help chop vegetables, season dishes, and serve drinks! Mercy and her sisters particularly enjoy making cakes together, and preparing the potatoes. Even Maxwell pitches in and washes the plates once everyone has finished eating!

Aside from enjoying this wonderful feast with loved ones, what is the family hoping for this Christmas and for the New Year? Mercy told us that I wish all the people in the world can celebrate, and remember what the day means-Jesus was born! As for Maxwell, his wish is that our community continues to cooperate together, so that we can build up a better town”. Finally, their grand-father shared his Christmas wish with us: as a guardian and as a PTA chairman, I would be happy if the school could be sustained and that we could build a new classroom. That would be good. As for Zambia, at the moment, things are hard, things are expensive especially those who are not working so we are hoping things will change for the better next year.”

We would like to wish Masasewee, Maxwell, Mercy and their entire family a very happy Christmas, and we hope that all their dreams and aspirations for 2016 come true!


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Market Day for Lujoro School Garden Group!

Posted on by Lily Kelly-Tarrant

Babra SDG Project OfficerBabra Akello works with African Revival as part of our Community Empowerment team in Uganda. She spends a lot of time in the field with parents involved with our School Demonstration Gardens (SDGs). SDGs offer agricultural training to parents of children at local primary schools. This improves the relationships between parents and the school, as well as their children’s academic attendance and attainment. Many parents also apply the skills they have learnt to their household farming. Babra plays a key role in training SDG group members in agricultural skills and marketing processes in order for the group to successfully turn a profit. Sophie Hicks, one of our field officers, recently caught up with Barbra and the SDG group at Lujoro Primary School to hear how they are getting on as we approach the New Year.

Following their initial research into various crop types, the group decided which crops they felt were best for their School Demonstration Garden. After planting, harvesting garden peasand tending to their crops, the group members harvested what they’d grown and began the post-harvest handling process before taking their produce to market.  Babra describes how the process differs for each crop;

“The marketing process varies from individual enterprises to the other because there are crops that are majorly sold when they are fresh, but there are crops that are sold maybe when they are dried, or maybe with something added to it. The stages in post-harvest handling include harvesting, transportation, drying, cleaning, sorting, bagging… attaching a price… and now awaiting transportation to the market.”

“We ensure thatIn store room, bagging onions the marketing committees together with myself, we do our market research, to see in these products that we are having, how is the price, how are other people tagging the prices to these same products. How best can we out-do them with the same products in the market. Then the products are transported to the market… sometime they use [a] bicycle, sometimes they carry it on their heads, sometimes they use a motorcycle to transport their products to the market, but ensuring that during that [during] transportation the quality of our products is not compromised.” 

Potential customers examining produce at marketOn Monday 7th of December 2015, the Lujoro SDG marketing committee took in a total of 160,000 Ugandan Shillings, which equates to just over £30 GBP. Popular products on market day include onions and garden peas. There are regular market days in the local and surrounding districts, and with two harvest seasons a year, the group is kept very busy!

The profits of the group are divided up into three sections at the end of each year. 30% goes directly to Lujoro Primary School for the Head Teacher, school management, teachers and the PTA to decide what to spend the money on. Often it is for put towards building new latrines or buying new furniture for the school. 30% goes back into the SDG group account so that the garden can keep going the following year, with savings to buy more seeds for example. Finally, the remaining 40% is divided up between the group members, depending on their attendance at the garden throughout the year.

Bosco_Marketing teamEach member set savings goals at the start of the project to prioritise what their profits from the SDG would go towards. Most members included paying their children’s school fees as a top priority. Bosco, part of the marketing team within the Lujoro SDG explains; “I used part of the money to buy two pigs. So I am keeping pigs. And also part of the money I used to pay the exam fees for the children. However some part I brought it back for saving”.

Not only does being a part of the School Demonstration Garden enable parents to pay school fees on time, but it also benefits their children, as Pamela, a group member describes; “my presence in the school actually makes my children come and concentrate in class. Because they know at least every Tuesday Mama is around school so they don’t need to joke with studies”. 

Customer at Lujoro examines garden peasBoth Pamela and Bosco have started using the agricultural techniques they learnt at Lujoro SDG in their gardens at home. Bosco says he has even; “trained the wife, and now if I’m not at home my wife can apply the knowledge”.

As 2015 comes to an end, Pamela reflects upon being a part of Lujoro’s SDG; “Being part of the group has really benefited me because people come and buy fresh vegetables from my home… on a daily basis. And now when I have these things at my home, as people come to buy, I save that money. So in case any sickness happens, I have something for transport, I have something for medical bills and the rest of it. So all this is attributed to me being part of this group… I enjoy the unity that exists among the group members… My new year’s resolution is to diversify my enterprises, and also, to be a good time keeper”.

Lujoro parents group









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Christmas with the Hamochileba family in Zambia!

Posted on by Sophie Hicks

Family 3 Hamochileba familyThe festive food may be a little different to our turkey and trimmings, but Zambian families sure know how to celebrate Christmas in style! One family who is already getting ready for some fabulous Christmas fun is the Hamochileba family, who recently offered us some insight into how Christmas is spent in their household…

Naomi and Twambo run a micro-enterprise selling second-hand clothes, but more importantly, are the parents of four children (Dorothy, Michael, and five-year old twins David and Daniel) and the guardians of their niece, Margaret. The family moved from Livingstone to Kalomo in 2011 because they found that things were getting too expensive in the city, and felt they could enjoy a higher standard of living in Kalomo as food and rent are much cheaper there. So, the family now live within the Bwacha neighbourhood of Kalomo, where their oldest children and niece-Dorothy, Michael and Margaret- attend Bwacha Basic School, an African Revival supported school.

For the family, Christmas is a very important date on their calendar because that is the day that Jesus was born, so we really enjoy remembering that by going to church, where we worship together and then we come back home and celebrate. How exactly does the family celebrate the day? Naomi filled us in: we celebrate by cooking and preparing nice foods as a family- we always have chicken and rice, and prepare salads like potato salad and cabbage salad! Finally, we make lots of cakes! For these preparations, every-one is assigned a special job so that the meal comes together seamlessly; for example, Dorothy told us that she is in charge of helping make the salads, and then washing the dishes when everyone has finished eating! Once all the delicious food is ready, the family all sit down to eat together, and sometimes even invite their neighbours over to join them, too!

Pupil walking through Campus

There are several Zambian dishes which tend to make a special appearance at Christmas time; in the Hamochileba household, they like making Manda. According to Dorothy, to make the dish you prepare vegetables which are like okra, you cut them and prepare them with soda and then you add pounded groundnuts and then you add onions and tomatoes. It’s good- I will prepare some for African Revival! We’d love to give it a try alongside our roast spuds! Although the Christmas meal is a focal point of the family’s celebrations at home, what they love more than anything is the opportunity that the day presents to just spend time with one-another; Christmas can really unite people together- you all come together and that is very special”.

Of course, unsurprisingly, what the children like best is giving and receiving presents! Dorothy told us that she loves receiving story-books which are fun to read but also help improve her reading, and comprehension skills. However, this year, Dorothy is hoping for new textbooks because I know that I will need them in the coming months, because I want to pass my exams well”. The family are not always able to exchange gifts, but regardless of whether the family has plenty or is need, they always enjoy Christmas, as Naomi told us: “Christmas doesn’t have to be expensive- if you want, you can buy expensive things, but otherwise, we are still happy to prepare simple, traditional dishes. Like the Manda dish, you can do that cheaply and it is still delicious! Indeed, this year has been tough one as the Zambian Kwacha has been losing value on a daily basis, so things are getting difficult for families. However, Naomi is optimistic that 2016 will bring about positive change: “I’d love to see progress in Zambia, for things to get a little better. For my family, I will be happy if we can just stay healthy! For Dorothy, her greatest wish is to pass her all-important Grade 7 exams, which determine whether she can progress to secondary school.

We hope that the Hamochileba have a very merry Christmas, and that the year ahead is filled with strong currency, good health, and brilliant exam results!

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Happy Christmas from Sebastian and Miriam in Zambia!

Posted on by Sophie Hicks

Family 4 Sebastian and Miriam (1)The heating has been turned up a notch, decorations are up, and the Christmas jumpers are on…at African Revival, we are really beginning to get into the Christmas spirit! With the big day drawing closer, we’ve been having fun finding out how the families at African Revival supported schools will be celebrating this festive season! Today, we talked all things Christmas with grand-father and grand-daughter dream team, Sebastian and Miriam. Fourteen year old Miriam is currently in Grade 9 at Bwacha Basic School- a school situated within the town of Kalomo where our Zambian offices are based. Sadly, her father died this year, so she now lives with Sebastian, her grand-mother Martha and her younger cousin Mono Effemia who is in Grade 4 at the same school. Sebastian, a retired teacher, and Martha have eight grown-up children, all of whom have moved out with the exception of their youngest daughter. As you can imagine, Christmas is a bustling and exciting time in their household!

It has been a tough year for Miriam, but she is looking forward to Christmas because it provides a precious opportunity to celebrate good things with my family”. As the family are Catholic, Sebastian shared that they spend lots of our time at church on Christmas, and then we go home to celebrate once the service has ended”. We were curious to know what these celebrations look like so Sebastian explained that “We usually have a special meal with the whole family- the whole family comes, and even sometimes the neighbours join us“. The family’s festive feast consists of “all the usual foods, but then some special items like rice and fish and chicken. Of course, we don’t leave out the vegetables, and our traditional Zambian dish of Chiwawa which is pumpkin leaves, prepared with pounded ground-nuts.” Miriam tells us that her favourite item on the Christmas dinner table is the chicken! As Miriam always helps her grandmother sweep the house before guests arrive, and washes the pots and plates after the last mouthful of Chiwawa has been eaten, we think Miriam deserves a very big piece of chicken!

school surroundings

Once the family has celebrated Christmas in style, they have plenty of exciting projects up their sleeve for the coming year; Sebastian shared their up-coming plans with us: as a family, we have decided that we wanted to go back to farming. In the next coming year, we will have two homes- in town and one at the farm, where we want to grow crops- we tend to grow maize, and cassava and also ground-nuts. So, we would like to at least see some harvest, and then sell part of it and then keep some of it for family consumption. Miriam also has a significant year ahead, because she will be taking her Grade 9 exams which will determine whether she can progress with secondary school, so her wish this Christmas is to pass her exams because school is very important to me, as it will help me in my future”.

We wish Sebastian, Miriam and their whole family a very happy Christmas and we hope that 2016 brings them a plentiful harvest and exam results which are even better than Miriam wishes for!


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Season’s Greetings from the Muzembo family in Zambia!

Posted on by Sophie Hicks

Family 2 Mozembo familyHere at African Revival, we are getting rather excited about Christmas…the food, festive jumpers, the carols, and of course curling up with Christmassy movies! These are some of the ways we will be enjoying the season, but how do the children in the schools we support in Zambia celebrate Christmas? We recently enjoyed a good old yuletide natter with the Muzembo family from the town of Kalomo (where our Zambian offices are based), who told us all about how they usually spend Christmas!

Mrs Muzembo is a cleaner at the local hospital and her husband works as a businessman selling paving bricks and building blocks; he is also the director of a private school! Together the couple have four children: Abel, Christine, Cedric, Pardon, and Lovely. The children attend several different schools in Kalomo, but Christine and Cedric are currently attending an African Revival supported school- Bwacha Basic.

For the family, Christmas is a very special time because, as Christians, they celebrate joyfully as “it is the day Jesus Christ was born…although people have many different beliefs about Christmas, this is what we believe and so on Christmas day, we go to church, we praise and sing and sometimes even have overnight prayers, and then we come back home”. After the family have attended church celebrations, they make their way back home with their friends to continue the festivities. In fact, every year, they take it in turns to host a big Christmas meal; Mrs. Muzembo explained to us: “we organize amongst ourselves and say “this year, it is you who is going to prepare Christmas”. When it is our turn, we prepare lots of food; we also buy drinks and make cakes. We invite friends, and we sing and dance, so that everyone is happy!”

Family 2 daughter Christine

Additionally, many of the family’s members were actually born in December (including Mrs. Muzembo who was born on the 29th December!) so Christmas day also doubles up as an opportunity to host birthday celebrations for anyone born during the month of December! In the midst of all excitement, the children particularly enjoy indulging in food they don’t normally have. For example, Christine loves the tinned spaghetti hoops which her mother serves as a treat! For dessert, the family always buy ice-cream cake which, as you can imagine, is a firm favourite among children and adults alike! However, one more traditional item which Mrs. Muzembo always prepares is Chiwangto, a kind of sweet beer made with mill porridge- it is a staple festive drink in many Zambian households around Christmas time!

Christmas is quickly approaching, and the family are already preparing for the big day but as they look forward to Christmas, they have also been reflecting back on the past year giving thanks that “we have been able to go through the whole safely- we are very thankful to God.” So, what does the year ahead have in store for this lovely family? Mrs. Muzembo proudly told us: “we are all looking forward to 2016; I am happy with my family- they are all bright so next year, I want to make sure they all get to go to a good boarding school- I am working hard to make sure this happens”. Christine enthusiastically echoed this hope; her Christmas wish is to pass her exams and get accepted into a boarding school! We’d like to wish the Muzembo family a very merry Christmas indeed, and we hope all their Christmas wishes come true!


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£9,354 raised on the Big Give Christmas Challenge!

Posted on by Elaine Miller

Thank you SO, so much to everyone that donated to us on the Big Give Christmas Challenge over the weekend! We were completely taken aback by the level of support given, from both new and previous supporters, with almost everyone getting their donations in on time to get them doubled!

These funds will have such a huge impact at Sikalele Community School in southern Zambia when we start work there in the New Year. Thank you.

smiling female pupil

If you didn’t get a chance to donate over the weekend, but would still like to support the project, you can still donate through the Big Give until the 14th December 2015. You can also click here to find out more about the project at Sikalele.


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Christmas in Zambia with Jenny and Grace!

Posted on by Sophie Hicks

Family 6  Jenny and GraceAs we begin the countdown to Christmas (who is getting very excited now?!), we have been chatting with parents and children from African Revival supported schools in Zambia, to find out how they will be spending Christmas! Today, we met mother and daughter duo, Jenny and Grace, who shared with us how they will be celebrating the day.

Sixteen-year old Jenny is in Grade 9 at Kalomo Basic School, which is located just five minutes from our offices in the town of Kalomo! Jenny is the youngest of nine siblings, so she is the only child still at home with her parents. It can be a little lonely, which is why she loves Christmas because it is time when “the whole family comes together, and we celebrate together!” Of course, being such a large family, not everyone can always make attend the gathering especially because some of Grace’s children live in Lusaka, and by the Congolese border but Grace tells us: we are flexible; whoever is able to will come around and congregate together”. A Christian family, Christmas is particularly significant to them because it marks the day Jesus came into the world, and so they tell us that they enjoy celebrating this historical moment together by attending a special church service.

Once the family is together and they have attended church, they can prepare a big feast: “if we have money, we will buy certain meats, and we bake…it just depends on what we have.” To ease the financial strain which hosting Christmas can bring, everyone in the family brings a dish to the table. Grace explained “we all help prepare the food. For example, one person will bring one dish, another might bring a big salad, and another will contribute a chicken…this way, we all do it together”. During these preparations, Jenny is her mother’s right-hand helper and she enjoys helping whip up all the festive dishes. Jenny’s favourite part of the meal is scones, which they enjoy with tea!

So, aside from all the delicious food, what is the best thing about Christmas? Jenny shared with us what she loves about the day: “the best thing about Christmas is just celebrating, and just being happy on that day- playing with my friends and going to church! We like to have music, and making a party!” In fact, her Christmas wish is that the whole family will be happy, and will be able to all celebrate together! As for Grace, “my wish is to bring all my grandchildren together-I have ten grand-children; some live close by but others really live far away so it is nice that we can come together. The grand-children get so excited, and I love seeing that! I enjoy spoiling them when I see them- I cook for them-chicken, or even kill a goat!” Jenny, too, enjoys having her nieces and nephews about, and loves playing ball games with them whilst the parents are having a post-lunch snooze!

We hope that the family have a fabulous Christmas reunion, and that Grace and Jenny’s wishes for their Christmas come true! Merry Christmas!


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The Big Give Christmas Challenge!

Posted on by Elaine Miller

Massive grinAfrican Revival has been selected to be part of the Big Give Christmas Challenge 2015!

This is the largest match-funding campaign in the UK and it’s a great opportunity for us to raise funds and let people know about our important work.


Donate online via the Big Give Christmas Challenge, starting this Friday 4th December, and your donation to African Revival could be doubled! Doubling is on a first-come-first-served basis so make sure to get your donation in quick when the challenge opens at midday.

Many thanks in advance for your support – you are helping to give thousands of children a brighter, better future.


Please help us provide latrines, hand-washing facilities and teaching and learning materials at Sikalele Community School in Zambia by donating online through the Big Give Christmas Challenge on the 4th and 5th December 2015.

Want to know more about the project or the challenge itself? Just follow these links:


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Christmas with the Shapota family in Zambia!

Posted on by Sophie Hicks

Family 1 Mrs Shapota & MarthaEver wondered how families in different parts of the world celebrate Christmas? We decided to find out how Zambian households mark the season, so we recently caught up with the Shapota family who shared with us how they celebrate on the 25th December! The family of three includes Mrs. Shapota (a trainee teacher), her businessman husband Alfred and their nine-year-old daughter Martha who attends Bwacha Basic School, an African Revival-supported school.

Mrs. Shapota offered us some insight into how Christmas is celebrated in the town of Kalomo: “people all celebrate in different ways- some go to church at that time and worship, and some just like to celebrate by drinking lots of beer with their friends. Others, like us, like to celebrate at home, by having a nice big party.”

school surroundingsFor her family, Christmas means “deciding to remember the birth of Lord Jesus on that day- that’s how I see it.” To celebrate this occasion, the family either host a party in their home, or go out of town to spend the day with relatives. So, what do these gatherings look like? “If we celebrate at home, we make a cake, we cook nice food, we buy drinks, we’ll invite friends and family members over and we’ll eat the whole day and celebrate together”. Just like in the UK, preparing a special Christmas meal is an important part of the festivities in the Shapota household: nowadays, people are always busy, so once you get home, you just want to cook something fast, but on Christmas, you take your time, making traditional dishes. We make a special traditional drink called Chiwangto- you make a porridge using mill rice, then you soak some roots in water. When the porridge is ready, you add the liquid from the roots, and mix together and leave overnight, and then the next day it is ready to drink!” This drink is a favourite of Martha’s and in fact, her favourite aspect of Christmas is all the yummy foods she is able to enjoy during the festivities!

However, the family love sharing these special dishes and the excitement of the festive season with those less fortunate than themselves, and so we invite our families to come to our house because there are people in the family who are poor and cannot afford to make a party for themselves, so we invite them so they don’t feel that Christmas is not for them; you invite them all who cannot provide for themselves- and friends and neighbours as well.It sounds as though the Shapota home is a great place to spend Christmas, but Martha’s Christmas wish is to spend the day in Choma- a bigger town 62km away, because she finds Choma more exciting than the small town of Kalomo! We wonder, if she coaxes her parents enough, whether her wish will come true?!

Pupil walking through CampusUnsurprisingly, the family is already looking forward to the big day and have high hopes for the New Year ahead: 2016 is a year of voting, and we are hoping for a good change in Zambia because now we are suffering a lot, because the Kwacha (the Zambian currency) is losing value and things are getting more expensive everyday, but we have great hope that next year will be different, and the way of life will be different”. As for Martha, her greatest hope is to pass her exams! We hope that the Shapota family enjoy their fabulous Christmas plans, and that 2016 is a prosperous and successful year-full of good things!

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