The MMTA's industry link with Mufulira, Zambia
To view the October 2011 'Linking News' from CMCPT click HERE.
In 2008, the MMTA intitiated a link between our minor metals industry and the mining community of Mufulira in Zambia, at the heart of the copper belt, the geological band that stretches across the waistline of Africa. So arbitrary is the frontier in this region that the same ore bodies for copper pass from Zambia across into the Democratic Republic of Congo and back again, making the border trade of concentrates a feature of life in this region.
Approximately 300,000 of Zambia’s approximate 12 million people live in the town of Mufulira, which is in a highly urbanized part of Zambia. Most families are in some way involved with the mine, which was first excavated in 1933. In those days the ore at the surface graded at 5% Copper content. Today, the content is lower, at 2%, but with more efficient technology and deeper mining (up to 1.5 km depth) the mine is still profitable for its owners. 70% of the town’s water comes from aquifers released through mining and pumped to the surface.
Assembly at Mano Basic School, Mufulira
Children in Mufulira attend a wide variety of state-run schools, based on the British system, adopted (and since adapted) following independence in 1964. Schools include Mufulira High School, Mano Basic, Muleya Winter Basic and many more, which all do their best to provide an education that will satisfy the demands of a growing middle class (the young who have ambitions to grow up to be doctors, teachers, engineers). The late President, Dr Levy Mwanawasa, was originally a mining engineer from Mufulira. Many of the current members of government come from this town and some even gained their education in the schools mentioned above. In 1995, the people of Castle Cary in Somerset initiated a link between schools in this part of the UK, which has now endured for over 15 years. The Cary-Mufulira Community Partnership Trust (CMCPT) was established, as well as its counterpart in Zambia, the Mufulira-Cary Community Partnership Trust (MCCPT). Building durable links, where both Zambian and UK communities can learn from each other, has been the ethos. Getting close to each other as communities has had a powerful influence on both sides, providing the continuity that is required in order to make charitable work effective.
A patient at Kamuchanga Hospital, Zambia
Reliant on extractive industries at the base of what we do, those active in the minor metals sector have understood that an industry link with such a region makes sense, and in the last four years we were able to raise, through individual donations and the MMTA's raffles at our Anniversary Dinners, donations of over £50,000, which have been channeled into furthering the exchanges between Zambia and UK. This money assisted with the funding of the incoming teachers and pupils from Zambia, as well as a series of specific small scale projects.
In March 2009, an anaesthetic machine was provided to a township hospital in the environs of Mufulira called Kamuchanga, serving 90,000 people. The surgeon had hitherto performed all minor operations without anaesthesia, and the hospital was forced to send away patients in need of operations to larger hospitals further afield. Here at Kamuchanga, this state run hospital was created from the buildings of a miners' tavern, facilitated and originally made available via the Town Clerk’s office, with whom the MMTA has contact. The hospital is growing in efficiency with the assistance of a very strong Rotary link and now with some MMTA assistance too. There is also an Aids clinic supported with anti-retroviral drugs supplied through a US Aid programme, as well as an X-Ray unit and services to fight malaria and TB. However, equipment, such as a washing machine which is more than 30 years old and broken, sometimes requires doctors, nurses and helpers to take sheets home to have them disinfected. In order to prevent the spread of disease, here is a typical example of a basic piece of machinery which MMTA donations are aiming to send to Zambia still within 2012.
There is a quote in the book by Dee Brown, ‘Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee’ (1970) attributed to Crazy Horse, the Oglala Sioux Leader:
‘One does not sell the earth upon which the people walk’
Smelter emissions, Mufulira, Zambia
Unfortunately, metal merchants, commodity traders and miners do. Moving earth, the ore, is what we do for a living. Perhaps, in some way, we can move the product of that earth: high tech equipment, and some human kindness, back in return.
If anyone reading this would like to know more about the work we are trying to do in Mufulira, please contact me, Anthony Lipmann on 01932 224344 or the MMTA office. We can guide and talk about specific, targeted projects in Mufulira and we can also facilitate trips more widely in Zambia via the eco-friendly and not-for-profit travel organisation, INTRO-ZAMBIA, which has access to a Bungalow in Mufulira and which is used as a base for the work we do, and whose guidance has been essential in building the MMTA-Mufulira link. Contact: Dr Laura Tilling on 01963 351461 or see http://www.introzambia.co.uk/.
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