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Reaching out to Orphans and Vulnerable Children

kabwethumbCaritas Convent Secondary School is located in Kabwe's city centre. The school is run by the Religious Sisters of Charity. There are about 540 pupils in school, 35 teachers and 10 auxiliary staff who do specific duties in order to maintain the high standards of quality education.

Pupils who attend lessons in Caritas are mainly Kabwe residents who find their way to school each morning at 07:00hrs. Lessons begin at 07:30hrs after 20 minutes of morning assembly/devotion. The school enjoys a break of 20 minutes at 10:10hrs and lessons resume at 10:30hrs and go on up to 13:10hrs and pupils then go for a lunch break. At 13:50hrs exactly, all pupils go back to class for prep time which is compulsory. This study session is helpful to many pupils who rarely have time to study while at home due to a number of disturbances. Extra­ curricular activities begin at 15:30hrs and last for an hour which marks the end of the school session each day.

During lunch break, pupils are not allowed to leave the school premises thus; every pupil is expected to bring their own food every day. However, on prior permission from parents, some pupils are given termly permission to leave school for lunch but must report back for  the afternoon study without being late. Since the school operates on the charism and teachings of Mother Mary Aikenhead give to the poor what the rich can buy with money, the administration and the pupils both acknowledge and respects the background of each and every pupil. The school tries to exercise equality and love without partiality and more care and concern is given to those who the society deems to be weak. In order to bridge the gap between the probable haves and the have nots the school has put in place different charitable programmes to help the orphans and the vulnerable children within the school. The following are some of the ways by which the school tries to help the vulnerable children in school.

Firstly, the school ensures that all pupils wear the same uniform and shoes so that no one is judged or discriminated against on the basis of the clothes they wear. For pupils who fail to purchase the uniform the school helps such pupils by providing them with a uniform.

Even before the introduction of SHN (School Health and Nutrition) in schools, Caritas already had a feeding programme for the feeding of the orphans and vulnerable children who could not afford to bring a packed lunch from home everyday. The school has a programme which ensures that every pupil has a balanced diet for 1unch by providing a meal for those who cannot afford to buy food.
Depending on the PTA and well-wishers, meals are prepared at the small school kitchen for all the identified pupils who are not able to bring a packed lunch. The pupils would simply bring their lunch boxes and leave them at the kitchen in the morning then just pick them at lunch time with food already packed for them.

The Lenten collection is another charitable programme that is organized every year during the Lenten season. During this period, Lenten Tins are put in all classrooms in the morning and collected at the end of the day. Pupils are therefore free to put whatever monetary contribution they might have for the day in the Lenten Tins and the money is collected by the Deputy Head's officer then later taken over to the Account's office. Apart from the Lenten Tins, pupils are encouraged to give through the office of the Deputy Head, clothes or other items that can be of use to other pupils in school.

The school orchard is another means by which the school tries to meet the basic needs of the orphans and the vulnerable children and all pupils in general. The school provides fruits to all pupils and at other occasions raises a bit of money by selling fruits from the orchard to fund the feeding programme. Occasionally pupils also help in keeping the orchard to ensure that it provides the needed fruits and vegetables required to keep the programme going for the rest of the year.

The school feasts and celebrations such as the feasts of the Sacred Heart and Mother Mary Aikenhead respectively are marked as major points for sharing with others. During these events pupils together with the members of staff are encouraged to bring food so that it is shared equally with others. These events indeed foster the love that the Religious of Charity proclaim in many of their institutions.

Regardless of the economic, social, political or creed of the pupil in Caritas, the school only offers holistic Christian education to a child; the love in action, CHARITY! This is done through the love of Christ which compels us all.

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