Earlier this month I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Mary Matandiko, coordinator and teacher of Our Rainbow House, the Australian and Zambian registered charity providing education and nutrition to orphans and vulnerable children in Zambia.
On her first visit to Rockhampton Girls Grammar School, Mary was accompanied by Alison Ray, the founder of Our Rainbow House, who formed a committee of friends in nearby Emerald where the dream to provide the opportunity for vulnerable children to attend school and give them improved life chances began.
In 2012, Alison and her committee opened the school for 51 orphans and vulnerable children. In 2016 the first class of year seven students all passed their national high school entrance exam and most remarkably, they completed their first seven years of education in only four years.
During their visit to Girls Grammar, Mary and Alison spoke about how far the school has come in the short time it has been operational, successes of students that have been sponsored and the struggles they face with the limited physical space and resources available to them.
Interested to hear more about this life changing opportunity for many young people of Zambia, I along with my nine year old son attended the meet and greet with Mary following her visit to our school. Here we heard more about the reality and conditions the 6,800 orphans or underprivileged children are faced with in Lusaka, Zambia where there is a 96% unemployment rate. The location of the school only allows for around 50 orphans to be accepted, based on need, to attend Rainbow House and yet despite this their results are quite remarkable. Our Rainbow House celebrated its first two graduates last year, with one achieving eight A’s and the other offered a scholarship to study in Costa Rica.
Listening to the real life stories such as this puts many of our lives into perspective, and made myself and my young son reflect on how privileged we truly are.
Girls Grammar is a proud supporter of Our Rainbow House, having provided sports tracksuits and netball uniforms to their students who are genuinely grateful and proud to be wearing our colours and crest. Not only did Mary make the visit to our school to say thank you but to show appreciation on behalf of Our Rainbow House, students and staff sewed netball bibs out of traditional Zambian Chitenge fabric which were presented and proudly worn by our girls during their netball grand final this week.
To read more about Our Rainbow House or to provide a donation to this important cause visit https://ourrainbowhouse.org.au/