The germ of an idea
The owners of Borassus Estates and Floribo, two agricultural businesses in rural Chilanga, started to act on their dream of building a primary school for their workers’ children. Back then, the two companies grew vegetables and roses for export to the UK and the Netherlands, and, together, employed 300 workers.
They established The Mukwashi Trust, and started raising funds for a school. In June, the Embassy of the Netherlands gave the first gift: £12,000 for a block-making machine and building materials. Mack Multiples Ltd, a customer in the UK, then contributed £30,000, and Borussus provided £15,000.
The primary school opens
It took three more three years to raise all the funds needed to erect two steel-frame sheds (both containing two classrooms and an office) and a toilet block on Borussus’ farm.
The primary school finally opened on 4th September 2006 — with 70 pupils and two teachers. All the pupils were the children of Borussus and Floribo workers.
In 2009, a group of pre-schools in New York provided the first gift from the US. They donated books, puzzles, games and toys to help establish a pre-school on the site.
However, just as this opened in early 2010, collapsing global prices tipped Borussus into bankruptcy. Suddenly, the school faced an uncertain future.
The farm was bought by Seedco, a Pan-African agricultural company, and, to survive, the school had to start focusing on serving the wider local community.
Following an influx of pupils from the local community, a UK steel company and a Zambian cement company donated the materials to construct a third steel-shed containing two more classrooms.
The following year, a school in Bonn, Germany, donated 750 kg of high-quality fiction and non-fiction books to establish and equip a school library.
The secondary school begins
After four years of steady growth, an international Crowdrise fundraiser raised £32,000 ($40,000) to build a fourth classroom block on the site to develop a secondary school.
For the next five years, the school added one additional year-group each year.
Improvements & challenges
In Zambia, climate change produced a drought which ended day-time power, and falling copper prices meant rampant inflation and a struggling economy.
By now, as well, the original Trustees had all moved on, the Mukwashi Trust had ceased to operate, and the school was facing some growing pains.
Neverthless, one large gift and many smaller gifts, totalling £10,000, funded modern toilets for adolescent girls and completed the science laboratory; Floribo funded a borehole to provide the school with a supply of clean water; and fifty supporters in the UK, Europe, Canada and the US donated £24,000 ($30,000) to a GoFundMe fundraiser which allowed the school to improve teacher salaries, purchase supplies and plan for the future.
A lease of life
On 1st January 2020, a new non-profit company, Mukwashi Trust School Ltd, was formally registered in Lusaka by a small group of charity professionals and education academics from the UK, Canada and the US. The Mukwashi Trust was formally dissolved; the school was transferred to the new company; staff were given new, improved, contracts; and a fresh surge of energy re-empowered and re-envisioned the school.
In March, through our good friend in Jo’burg, Terence Chimanya, Seedco International finally provided the school with the security of a legally-registered, 50-year, rent-free lease of the site.
We can now start to plan for the long-term. What happens next, partly depends on you…