Archive for the ‘Chisomo Community Trust’ Category

Richard has been acquitted!

Saturday, January 28th, 2012

I’m afraid this is a cut-and-paste from  FatDormouse Getting Thinner. If you read it there, you don’t need to read it here too.

For those of you who might be reading this who are new, last year I challenged myself to ride 1,000 km on my bike, in 6 months. Not a great challenge, but for a terminally unfit Dormouse, it was challenge enough. But not only that, I wanted to raise 1,000€ in sponsorship – I knew that if people had given me money, I would have to do the challenge. I need motivation, people! I completed the cycling in time, about a week before the end of August, and thanks to a donation from my sister in October, I raised the 1,000€.
Here is my first blogpost about the Challenge.

This money was destined for the Chisomo Community School (link to site here ) which is supported, in no small way, by our friend Richard, who is renovating a house here in St Just. But also, he is trying desperately hard to build new school buildings, with help from the people of the Chisomo village in Zambia, despite his own not-very-good-health. He puts in a lot of his own money and cares passionately about the children of the community.


But, for some reason which I still don’t fully understand, he has been persecuted, falsely arrested and spent time in prison. In his own words: “Police cells, prison, court appearances, threats of deportation, death threats, loss of personal possessions, three robberies etc etc.” For nine months he has had the threat of a long prison sentence hanging over him, for, as far as he knows, stealing his own property…All this seemingly instigated by the greed of certain people who wanted to take the property that Richard had provided for the school. Unfortunately, due to what has happened the school building plans have had to go on hold:

By now the 1000 pupils at Chisomo Community School should be in new classrooms, with a sports field and library. Instead they are still in the cowshed we built, using two pit latrines which are foul. Because of the kindness of two donors, we have been able to start work on securing the cowshed, and we are looking at an appropriate toilet technology to build new ones. Maybe one day, we can revive the plans to build a new school.”
Finally, on Thursday, we heard that the case has been dropped.Finally. As he says “Hardly a surprise as they admitted to me several times they had no evidence.” Unbelievable!!! Richard included in the email a recap of what he had gone through during his time in prison – really quite distressing that this could happen to someone who has only cared about the poorest people in the country and tried to make life better, using his own money, resources and time.

But we can, at least, be thankful that he is out and his name cleared. But, quite incredibly, he plans on returning to continue his work. Me, I’d be out of the country like a rat from a drainpipe, never to return. But not him, he says “I haven’ t decided what to do yet long term, or even medium term, as a lot will depend on Immigration and whether they will allow me to stay as a permenent resident. This status means I can come and go as I please.” So, while I wouldn’t want to go to Zambia, I will be trying to continue to support Richard and the school, through providing resources and money, wherever possible. Maybe you could also donate something tohelp Richard continue to help those in desperate need.

Another HUZZAH! for me

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

I’ve just done my sums – I’ve raised 889€ for Chisomo Community Trust. If I can persuade my friends to be hyper generous, I may just get to the 1,000! Even if I don’t, I am very, very pleased with what I have done.


But, Richard is still facing serious charges in Zambia. He’s in France at the moment, but going back to face his trial on Sunday. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

1,000€ for 1,000 km Challenge. FINISHED!

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

HUZZAH for me! I’ve finished! I’ve completed my Cycling 1,000 km in 6 months Challenge – with 4 days to go!!! And, rather fittingly, on the day that we hear Richard has been found “Not Guilty” of the drugs charges in Zambia. Unfortunately, he is still charged with stealing his own property (don’t ask…) and stands trial for this in October, but we are still Very Pleased that the first hurdle is passed.

Here are three photos.

Here’s the odometer reading 1,000.

Here’s a happy me. I won’t say how many times I took an “at arms’ length” photo until I was satisfied that you couldn’t see my double chin!!!

and here is where I was when the odometer ticked over from 999 to 1000 (though I should admit that I had pootled about a bit to make sure it happened here! But it did seem properly fitting.) You can see the Trusty Bike propped up.

I don’t think I’ve made the 1,000€ I was hoping for, although various people have promised vague amounts of money “when you’ve finished” so I may manage to collect a bit more, but I think I’ve probably collected about 600-700€. Which is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. I’m sure the Chisomo Community SCHOOL will be very happy to use the money to the benefit of the PUPILS.

Now. Will I ever get on the bike again, do you think…? Place your bets, Ladies and Gentlemen, place your bets!

Happy, dancing Dormouse

Monday, August 15th, 2011

I am a happy Dormouse on two counts today. Number 1 is that last week I received a little package from the workshop of Susan Faye at 365catladies I won her “Giveaway” of some stickers to go on the back of leters (D’oh! I’ve just realised I sent a letter to mum today and forgot to put a sticker on the back!) I love Susan’s work – so whimsical and cat-based. I’d love to have one of her custom pieces, with George, Milly and Pomme – and maybe a little “angelic” Pumpkin as well. Maybe when we feel a little bit richer! So a big thank you to Susan for my gift. I love it!

The second reason I’m feeling happy is due to the generosity of the Cyclo Club. They collected money for my cycle challenge, and came up with the princely sum of 208€ for me. That is so fantastic! I will really have to bake more cakes in gratitude. I’ve not done a count up recently, but certainly with this donation, I’m coming close to 600€, and maybe even more. I really must do a proper calculation sometime soon, but for now a huge big dancing Thank YOU! goes to Les Cyclos de St Just En Chevalet.

Having shown you some of my creations yesterday I thought I’d show you the mess in which they were created.

(Don’t forget you can click on the photos to get the full glory of the mess that is my study. These just show you half of the chaos!)

Every time I say “I’ll put things away between each card” and I never do! The piles on the desk get bigger and I spend time searching for pens/knives/glue etc under the piles of paper etc! Still, somehow I manage to keep creating – although I hate tidying away after myself.

Four-fifths completed

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Despite not wanting to, I forced my lazy butt out on the bike – and while it was hard, I enjoyed it (mosrly) and I’m glad I went.

I did 20 km which took me up to 800 km completed. I feel confident I should reach the 1,000 km easily by the end of August. The question is, will Richard be here to receive the money in person? I pray so.

Bastille Day + 1

Friday, July 15th, 2011

I’m having a lovely, lovely long weekend – the only thing spoiling it is the concern over the car. It’s been in the garage since last Friday, and the Garagiste seems rather vague about what the problem is. He thought (or the diagnostic computery reader machine told him) that it was the injector (? Don’t ask me) was the problem. But today I learn that having replaced that, there’s still a problem. Ho,hum, it’s sounding more & more expensive. Then we face the decision of whether, having spent however-much-it’s-going-to-cost we then live with it for longer, or we buy a new car. This one is starting to go wrong more times than we really like – it’s been in the garage for fairly major things twice in the past year, and now requires 4 new tyres, and the cruise control is becoming less reliable. It has done a lot of kilometres, and trolls up and down the motorway most days. Maybe it’s time to think of another one…

Anyway – yesterday was Bank Holiday here in France, and today is le Pont (the Bridge) So a lot of places are closed today, including the Language school where I work. Yesterday I went out on the bike (fairly reluctantly, I must say!) and added another 28 km to the total. I’m now within 7 km of reaching three quarters of the 1,000 kilometre target. News about Chisomo below. We then went up to Alison & Gèrôme’s for a barbecue. I’d not seen Alison for ages so it was good to have a natter and to catch up. The food was yummy and the atmosphere relaxed. We went out for a walk with Marvin-the-Puppy and the kids and had a lovely time. I was knackered when we got home and spent a good hour and a half dozing, before watching the first episode of “Torchwood”. Which, I think on reflection, I enjoyed. I’d eaten so much at lunchtime that my tea consisted of a couple of handfuls of peanuts!

News from Chisomo, the Community School, is not good. Or rather, news about Richard, our friend and link to the school, isn’t good. I can’t – both because I don’t know details and because I’m not sure how wise it is to do so – go into detail but Richard has been arrested, falsely accused and is standing trial for, amongst other things, drug dealing and money laundering.

On consideration, I’ve edited this post a little. Maybe it’s best not to be quite so open with details about an ongoing trial.

Suffice to say, Richard needs your prayers, so if you are of a praying frame of mind, please pray for a swift and just outcome to the trial.

Apparently, when he was being questioned, the police said “You’re the kind of foreigner we don’t want here.”

“What?” Richard replied. “The kind who spend their own money helping the poorest members of the community?”

One of the saddest things for me is that there are church leaders who appear to be opposing Richard in his work, and who may well be implicated in his false arrest.

Anyway, let’s hope that when I finish my ride at the end of August I’ll be able to celebrate not just raising money, but being able to give it to Richard in person. It will be a terrible thing if he is found guilty.

1K Km 4 1K€ Update

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Another ride today. The longest I’ve done so far, so I’m really chuffed with myself! I have gradually been extending the circuit I’ve been doing, by adding the next part of the loop – so I started with 14 km twice, then 18 km twice and this ride extended it to 26.5. I’m also pleased that hills  (well, slight inclines!!) that I usually go up in Granny Gear (1st gear wheel) I got up in the second!  I’m still tired, but I am exhilerated! Oh, dear…might I actually be enjoying this cycling lark?! Mr D keeps nagging me to go out with the Cycling Club rather than by myself; I wanted to get to the target of doing 25 km by myself first. Well, I’ve done it – though I do have to say, it’s hardly at a speed to break the speed limit! – so maybe next Saturday I’ll join the Cyclos (3rd Group) for their outing.

Big Thank Yous goto more sponsors. To Mr D’s Uncle in Australia, thank you for a very very generous cheque, and to my friend Daniele thank you too for some folding cash money! I’m planning on asking the Cyclo Club to sponsor me, and promise them cake for 6 weeks if I reach 100€. And for 12 weeks if I reach 200€ from them!!! Anyway, here’s the Totaliser

Date Distance cycled Distance to go Money raised Money to go
09.03.11 37 963 136€* 864€
19.03.11 64 936 248€* 752€
26.03.11 126.5 873.5 314€ 686€

1K Km 4 1K€ Update 5

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Oh dear…I’m a tad behind in my cycling . The weather and my work have conspired against me slightly, to make it difficult. I was up to date last Thursday (although I’d done a 14 km ride it hadn’t shown up on my odometer, as Mr D had replaced my tyres. However he managed to find a way to reset it, showing the km I’d done. ) I’d done 37 km the week before (2 x 14.5 and a 8 km ride as well) so with the 14 km ride that was 51 and on target for 74 by the end of the week.

Last Saturday was cold, damp and windy. It was also mum’s last day with us, so instead of going out, I thought, I’ll go tomorrow, and stayed home with mum. We chatted, played with glue and sequins (made cards) and drank coffee. We went out to a local restaurant in the evening, which was good. We went with our friends A & G, their children, A’s parents (who had come across with my mum as they all live in Liverpool) and R – the friend who supports the school I’m cycling for.  We ate and drank very well.

Sunday however was not cold, damp and windy. It was cold, SOAKING and windy. I wasn’t going out in that!!! Monday, I didn’t get home from work & food shopping until 7.30 and on Tuesday it was wet again. Oh dear. My good intentions were fast going out of the window – the second week was up and I was 23 km down on the target! Groan!

So on Wednesday, as one of my students wasn’t here, and I’d get home early, I determined to go out Whatever The Weather (unless it was lashing down) It wasn’t lashing down when I left, but 5 minutes into the ride it was. But by then I’d cycled down the hill and I wasn’t going to cycle back up until the end! So off I went, and by the time I’d finished I was dripping, but exhilerated.  I had even yelled “Hello Ponies!!” as I’d flashed past ponies in a field. They were rather startled, but didn’t over react…I was so pleased when I finished. Yes, I was cold, but I’d done another 14 km and I felt surprisingly great about it!

Today, however, it’s cold and damp again, and I feel disinclined to go out. Tomorrow is due to be better, so I think I’ll try for a longer (25 km?) ride then. That will be the furthest I’ve gone, so I don’t quite know how I’ll cope, but if I don’t push myself I’ll not improve. Of course, that will still mean I’m behind target, which for the end of week 3 (which is on Tuesday 22nd) I should be on 111 km completed, instead of 76. But I am working on the theory that as I get fitter I will be doing longer rides, so I should (hopefully) catch my tail. And as summer approaches, the days will be longer and I can get in a couple of evening rides as well.

I have a lot of Thank Yous to say. Lots of people have supported me, and I am really grateful. So Thank you to:

Mum, my sister-in-Law in Canada, my MiL, my niece in Rwanda, and my friends Gary & Carlo back in Milton Keynes. I have had another cheque promised, but that’s not arrived yet, so I’ll name the benefactor when it’s arrived. That little bundle of cash adds up to 112 €. Absolutely BRILLIANT!

So, here’s the totaliser

Date Distance cycled Distance to go Money raised Money to go
05.03.11 22 978 106€ 894€
09.03.11 37 963 136€* 864€
19.03.11 64 936 248€* 752€

Thank you all SO much!

1K km 4 1K € Week 1 update

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

OK, so I won’t KEEP doing updates. I can’t help thinking that would get very boring. I’ll restrict myself to once a week now, just to let you know if I am on target.

Which this week I am. My first week’s cycling (I go from Tuesday to Tuesday) and I hit my target: 37 km.

It wasn’t particularly easy riding, but with the beautiful weather I certainly enjoyed it (mostly. Some “up” bits were less enjoyable!) Of course, I can’t rest on my laurels. It’s not 37 km I’ve got to do, but 1,000, so next week has to be the same as this…and the one after that…and the one after that!

I’m hoping that within another two/three weeks I’ll feel ready to join the Cycle Club on their rides. At the moment Group 3 are doing about 30 km on a Saturday afternoon; as I’m struggling after 15 I think I need a couple more weeks out on my own, getting fitter and then I can join them. I’m not being negative (Note, Mr D! 🙂 ) I’m just doing this at the pace I want to do it at.

I want to add a Thank You to two more donors.

My niece Ruth has promised £15, and my sister&brother-in-law have sent a cheque for £20. Thank you both very much. It’s really appreciated. The more money I raise, the more embarrassing it would be to give back IF I failed (which I’m not going to do!)

So here’s the Totaliser

Date Distance cycled Distance to go Money raised Money to go
03.03.11 8 992 106€ 894€
05.03.11 22 978 106€ 894€
09.03.11 37 963 136€* 864€

*£ to € conversions are rounded to the nearest €

1K km 4 1K € (Update 3)

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Been out again today. A ride I know quite well…so I knew what was coming hill-wise. Not a lot, TBH. But we live in a hilly place so there is a definite incline back up to our house. I was dreading it, but actually found it less daunting than I was expecting. Yes, I did have to stop to catch my breath and ease my legs, but it wasn’t as bad as I’d built it up to be!

Date Distance cycled Distance to go Money raised Money to go
02.03.11 0 1,000 47.65 952.35
03.03.11 8 992 106.00 894
05.03.11 22 978 106.00 894