Tag Archives: Lusaka

Black History Month 2013 – Interview with LASS’s very own, Rachael Ng’andwe

Rachael-Award

Rachael N’Gandwe receiving her NIACE Certificate

As part of NIACE’s blog series to mark Black History Month, Rachael Ng’andwe – a 2013 Adult Learners’ Week award winner – is sharing her story. Rachael is a Women’s Project Coordinator atLeicestershire AIDS Support Services, working with HIV positive women to educate and empower them through training and other opportunities.

Tell me a bit about yourself and early years.

I was born in Lusaka, Zambia. I grew up there and attended primary school through to college, where I studied Travel and Tourism. I qualified as a travel consultant, which is what I did for a living in Zambia before I came to the UK. Since coming to England in 1997 I haven’t been back.  It’s been difficult being away- part of it has been immigration and it was not possible until a couple of years ago.

What are you doing now?

I’m a single mum to an 8 year old beautiful daughter. Her dad passed away in 2009 and I have been on my own raising her as a single parent, which takes up a lot of my time as I‘m very hands on. I’m also currently enrolled in a Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social Care Course – which started September 2013.

What inspired you to get involved in learning and education?

Originally, I gave my time up for volunteering as I wasn’t allowed to work due to my immigration status. Through that, I got involved in the training opportunities available for volunteers.

My love for working with people still carried on and having left my job where I did IT with the travel consultancy job, but I didn’t get a chance to practice since I moved here. I knew I needed to do something, so with the help of the Lass the voluntary organisation I was attached with I took the ICT Level 2 and passed.

I then took every opportunity that came along, instead of being idle at home. I just got lost in studying while volunteering and this gave me a break from other personal problems.

I was also involved in family learning classes at my daughter’s school. I did maths Level 1 and went on to do Level 2 with Leicester College. I knew that I needed to improve my maths to be able to help my daughter with her homework.

Were you faced with any barriers and if so, how did you overcome them?

I had barriers getting into mainstream education because I didn’t have the right immigration status.  Although being a voluntary sector, Leicestershire AIDS Support Services (LASS) provided me with the opportunity to learn and created a platform for me to use my learning. Even after obtaining my leave to remain in the United Kingdom, getting into university has not been easy because of the conditions on my status. I like many others whom I have come across, still struggle to meet up with financial demands to get into higher education. Passion is there but the reality always knocks us down and leaves us with the option to only do short college courses.

What was particularly helpful in supporting you to progress and achieve?

The management at LASS, in particular the CEO Jenny Hand and my line manager Juliet kisob. They have been there with me pushing me to achieve. They saw the potential which I did not see in myself to go for bigger things –they were my backbone and all that I had. I have close friends who have supported me in my journey to achieve better for me and my daughter.

What impact has winning an Adult Learners’ Week this year had on you?

It’s had a huge impact on me, especially with the women I work with. They see me in that position from the picture on my desk and they ask me questions like “How do I get onto a course? How can I get such an opportunity?” I see a change in them and they want to do better for themselves.

My daughter is also very proud of me. She asked me, “Mummy did you graduate?”

With significant strides in race equality over the last 30 years, what do you think the barriers for BAME learners are today?

It depends on where you go, but language is still a barrier when it comes to learning. If you don’t have English how will you understand the person who is teaching you? Without 1:1 support learning is very hard for people whose first language is not English.

It’s the same for children – language is a problem and they need extra support to achieve in class.

Refugees and asylum seekers also face barriers as there is stigma attached to them. I experience this myself – people look down on you because you apply to stay in the country on these grounds. They don’t see your potential – they only see the status so you always have to challenge and speak out or get taken for granted.

I also feel that the welfare cuts have hit people in a big way – women didn’t need to work in the same way before, but the cuts will mean everyone has to work and no more stay-at-home mums.

For some it will be very hard especially if they have not worked before. Where do they start and who is there to support them? Until there are some changes in the way the system works, this will remain a problem in our society.

I still believe the Equality Act has created more opportunities for BAME background. People just need to be empowered to challenge inequality when things are not right.

We know that there are significant differences between particular groups and sub-groups of minority ethnic learners. What can practitioners and providers do to support them?

Black learners sometimes have to do extra to get the same credit as other learners. The expectation from black learners is higher because their proficiency levels are not recognised – this is a barrier because they have to achieve exceptionally high grades in order to compete on the same market level. There will always be a gap in achievement between ethnic groups until they change the criteria in which enrolment and provision of educational materials is awarded to individuals regardless of ethnic back ground.

What would you like to see changing over the next 30 years for BAME learners and what role do you want to play in that?

Provision of a wide range of courses for different skills to match the employment requirements should be offered to BAME on quota basis. We should learn from what skills people are bringing into the country and increase the variety. I also think people should be afforded a future based on their capability – not on their status. Too many highly qualified people come to this country and end up stacking boxes in factories.

Organisations such as accounting firms that offer different routes into tertiary education such as articles should open this route to all individuals especially the BAME communities. Apprentiship courses should be offered to BAME communities at level 5 and 6 for those exiting secondary school educations.

How do you see your role as a BAME learner and the impact this may have on BAME learners, aspiring leaders and the wider community?

First and foremost – for single mums; be a role model giving hope to achieve anything you want to achieve. I want to be an advocate for under achievers by signposting them to relevant agencies and inspiring them to have a sense of self belief. My role as a BAME learner should inspire aspiring leaders and the wider community to engage in learning regardless of age, gender and ethnicity.

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HIV and TB activist Winstone Zulu has Died

The prominent HIV and TB activist Winstone Zulu has died at the age of 47 in hospital in Lusaka.

Mr Zulu was diagnosed with HIV in 1990 and was the first person in Zambia to make a public statement about his HIV status.

He began to take antiretroviral treatment in 1996 and contracted tuberculosis in 1997. After effective treatment for TB he became one of the first HIV activists to champion the need to address TB. One of 13 children, Winstone Zulu lost four brothers and two sisters-in-law to TB between 1990 and 2003.

Not only was Winstone Zulu a hero in the fight against AIDS, but he was also a pioneer in bringing AIDS activism to the hitherto barren and civil society free zone of tuberculosis prevention, treatment, and care,” said Mark Harrington, executive director of Treatment Action Group.

“Winstone was lovely, a courageous, insightful, gentle and eloquent activist and a real pioneer of the HIV and TB access movements for Africans in Africa. He was also that rare thing, a heterosexual man who was honest, wise and funny about male sexuality. He didn’t just defy three epidemic diseases (he had polio as well as HIV and TB), he also survived AIDS denialism,” said Gus Cairns of NAM.

Winstone Zulu stopped HIV medication in 2000 after encountering AIDS denialist views that HIV did not cause AIDS.  He resumed treatment in 2002 after a huge decline in his CD4 cell count left him once again seriously ill.

He continued to play a prominent role in AIDS and TB activism and was praised by Nelson Mandela as a pioneer of TB activism at the 2004 World AIDS Conference. In 2006 he was awarded the Stop TB Partnership Kochon prize for his contribution to TB control.

Speaking at numerous international conferences and events, Winstone sounds the alarm on the links between HIV/AIDS and TB and advocates for increased financial resources and improved programs to combat TB and TB-HIV. During recent trips to Japan, Winstone has garnered over a dozen media hits, including several front page articles in major outlets, particularly around his meetings with the then Prime Minister of Japan and the current Deputy Prime Minister.

Winstone’s experiences and actions make him a leader in TB advocacy and speak volumes to the social attention and political will that can be generated by just one individual using his voice.

In the following video, Winstone addresses the TED conference on 8th October 2008.

“Winstone Zulu worked tirelessly to change the world, at no small cost to his own health and wellbeing,” said Mark Harrington. “His legacy is a stronger link between HIV and TB activists, but his inimitable calm and passionate voice of reason will be deeply missed.

Winstone Zulu is survived by his wife Vivian and their four children.

Original Articles via NAM and Action.org

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Information about the effort and influence surrounding HIV/AIDS prominent activists is available here.