Eight years ago we received a generous donation which enabled us to establish a carpentry shop at Good Hope Basic School. Why carpentry? The main reason was to give young people who are struggling academically but who are good with their hands an opportunity to aquire skills in wood working. There are many beautiful trees in Zambia which make excellent furniture wood, so the raw material is locally available. And so the carpentry shop was established.
The main actor in this endeavour is Paul Mweene ( in the picture with the green work suit ). Paul is an ex-pupil at Good Hope Basic School and took an interest in wood work. In the course of a few years he has taken a couple of short courses to improve his skills.
In order to facilitate a wood workshop, wood needs to be organized well in advance, so that the wood can dry and mature. We have therefore over the years established our own wood storage, where the timber stays for at least six months before it is used in the carpentry shop. In the course of sourcing wood we met Letter Munyumbwe ( in the picture with a safety helmet on ) Letter knows a lot about different trees and has taught himself quite a bit of wood work skills. When he is not working in the carpentry shop, he is our lumber man, cutting trees and “slicing” them into boards. Having taught himself he is a very efficient and cautious workman.
We receive orders for specific pieces of furniture but we also produce regularly doors, tables, shelves and chairs which are sold through our shop in Kalomo. A few of our current 8-grade pupils are showing up afternoons to help in the carpentry shop, trying to get the feel of this work and see if that could be a professional goal for them.