PATSON PHIRI, Petauke
POSTAN Mwale, 15, emerges from the crowd to narrate how long his fellow pupils, at Mngoza Primary School in Petauke, walk to fetch water for their school experiments.
On the days isolated for science practical lessons, the school has countless buckets.
Mwale, decorated in a navy blue trousers and light blue shirt, has a long story to tell about the water scarcity at the school but manages to cut it short.
“Life without water is hard. We’re so happy because the new school will provide us with clean drinking water,” Mwale says as he stares at the newly constructed borehole donated by Airtel Zambia under its corporate social responsibility (CSR), a trend where companies remove a margin from their profits to help communities with various tools of help.
The nearest stream is about five kilometres from the school.
Mwale and other pupils have to make several trips in search of water for several activities within the limited five hours allocated for lessons.
On the list of Mwale’s hardships is the absence of electricity at the school as well as the introduction of Information Communication Technology (ICT) examinations for Grade Nine pupils in the absence of electricity.
“We have to be examined in computer lessons which we do not even learn. We really need electricity to enable us acquire ICT lessons,” Mwale says.
The effects on the teachers are even worse every evening; they must gear up to draw water instead of preparing for class work and they come back tired.
It is a cycle.
That is the situation Mngoza Primary School in Petauke has been reduced to. The only borehole at the school broke down some six years ago leading to this depressing scenario.
Mngoza School is a dry and red-soiled area with a collection of some classroom blocks and a few unelectrified teachers’ houses dotted a few metres away. But water scarcity has been the major challenge with teachers drinking water from the nearby stream, an open air one shared with animals such as cattle and goats. The stream also provides spaces for laundry and swimming as it flows across.
But this situation has suddenly changed with the arrival of a team from Airtel Zambia that was at the school to hand over a borehole constructed at a cost of K35, 000.
The school is about 40 kilometres from Petauke town and has a population of over 600 pupils.
Eastern Province Airtel Zonal business manager Eddie Banda says the company recognises that as one of the leading mobile service providers engaged in corporate social responsibility, it always has an obligation to help the needy community.
“Airtel will continue to look for ways in which to add value to the livelihood of the communities in which the company operates through our various Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives,” Mr Banda says.
He says the company will continue to traverse the country to build partnerships with the communities in need of basic necessities.
“I am glad to be handing over a borehole that we in here at Mngoza Primary School at a cost of K35, 000 and we are committed to being leaders in this,” Mr Banda said.
For many years, the people of Mngoza Community have been facing challenges in accessing drinking water, as the borehole that was constructed there had become rusty and eventually had to be decommissioned.
“It is our sincere hope that besides the students who are the immediate recipient of this water facility, the Mngoza community will live better and healthier lives by accessing fresh water from this borehole,” he added.
Petauke district commissioner Velenasi Banda Moyo was also present to speak on behalf of the residents and the Government.
“I would like to re-affirm that the government, through my office, is particularly happy with the contribution and investment that co-operating partners such as Airtel Zambia are making in supplementing government’s efforts in providing water for the vulnerable communities thereby changing lives,” Ms Moyo said.
The government was happy that Airtel has once again demonstrated the true meaning of corporate social responsibility by sinking a borehole at Mngoza which will help to provide drinking water and prevent diseases that may arise due to lack of safe water.
Ms Moyo explained that the gesture by Airtel was a clear testimony of the company’s determination to change lives in the community and render assistance where it is needed. She encouraged other companies to emulate Airtel by investing in local communities.