On Saturday, 14th November, the Reading Male Voice Choir will give a concert in Caversham Heights Methodist Church, the proceeds of which will be devoted to the Racecourse Community School in Kitwe, Zambia, which that church has been supporting for the past six years.
The Racecourse Community School was established in March 1999 in the township of Chimwemwe, Kitwe, Zambia. Its aim is to provide for the children of that community, orphaned by the death of their parents due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic that is having terrible consequences for millions of people in the developing world. As a result of this, many children were left without shelter, clothing, food and the finances needed to pay the fees and buy the school uniform needed to attend a Government school.
Racecourse School started with 410 pupils and 6 volunteer teachers. Today there are 2,000 children attending the school and 20 volunteer teachers. Classes run from Pre-school to Grade 7. The school now has one purpose-built classroom block but the majority of the children are taught in cramped, dark, mud-bricked rooms with earth floors and little light coming in from small openings high in the walls. These are in buildings scattered around the township. The pupils are crammed three to a desk and attend school in three shifts commencing at 7am.. text books are a luxury, mainly used by the teachers to transfer information to a blackboard using a stub of chalk. There is so little food; the children try to study on an empty stomach because they are so keen to learn.