In 2009, Abigail Brown made the decision to Lusaka to teach for a year with an organization called Old MacDonald’s Farm, which helps street boys in Lusaka. Abigail had visited Zambia several times before moving in 2009. On her first trip in 2005, she met Don and Christine MacDonald, who run the Farm, and on subsequent trips, spent time with them and many of the boys in the organization. With a background as a teacher, Don and Christine asked Abigail if she would be willing to come for a year and help tutor boys to prepare them for going back to government schools. At that time, the boys were between 13 and 24 years old, but some of the people working at the Farm had children who were not in school. Abigail started a preschool class with a focus on English and Math for those children.
Soon word spread that there was a preschool class, and children from the local area asked to join in. At the beginning of 2011, five girls came to the gate asking to also come for “lessons,” but they were sent away and told to come back the following week with their guardians so it could be explained there was no school. They came back… With 30 other children! Taonga School had officially begun. The students Abigail was teaching all came from poor families that couldn’t afford the books and uniforms needed to send their children to a government school. Abigail saw a great need in the community, and she decided she would take on the new challenge of creating a school for these children. Taonga School charges a small amount each month to help cover uniforms and books. The fees are deliberately set at an affordable rate for each family, and if they are unable to pay, they are offered work on the farm or at school.
Old MacDonald’s Farm is located near Arise Africa’s headquarters in Zambia, so the two organizations quickly became acquainted with the other. In 2015, Arise was looking to expand its Child Sponsorship Program, and Taonga School seemed to be a perfect fit. Although the school started out with 30 students, it quickly grew because each year, a “new grade” would join. Taonga was running out of space! In January of 2015, 3 classrooms were built, followed by two more classrooms and two staff offices in 2017. Additionally, a shipping container as converted into a library for the students.
Because of the limited space of the school’s property, Taonga is only able to hold up to 5 grades, Baby Class through Grade 4. Last year, Arise made the decision to have grade 5 students meet at one of our Arise Homes. Although the Arise Home has been great quick fix, it can’t be longterm solution. Through the generosity of Park Cities Presbyterian Church, land was purchased this summer for “Taonga Two.” Fast forward to today, we are ready to start building a new school, and we need your help! In January, we will have two grades of students without classrooms, so the pressure is on to provide for these children. With your help, we can make Taonga Two a reality by January of 2019. Will you consider partnering with us for Taonga Two?