CONTESA Vocational and Skills Training Centre (VSTC) Commence
CONTESA the UK registered charity which is devoted to supporting AIDS orphans and vulnerable children in Zambia announced that Berkeley Mineral Resources Plc (BMR), the UK listed AIM company which is currently principally engaged in the extraction of zinc and lead from tailings dumps at the world-famed Kabwe mine in Zambia had donated all the computers and supporting equipment urgently needed for the IT training workshop at the CONTESA Vocational and Skills Training Centre (VSTC) at Kabwe. The donated computer equipment comprised 11 personal computers, 3 printers, a book binder plus all the ancillary equipment needed to support these computers. This will enable the computing courses to commence in earnest on Day 1, 8th July 2013. The CONTESA VSTC is about to approve by TEVETA (Technical Education, Vocational and Entrepreneurship Training Authority) the Zambia accreditation authority and is currently registering its’ first intake of students for a range of courses in carpentry, metal fabrication, computer studies, bricklaying, tailoring, plumbing and electrification. A total of 70 students will start their courses on 8th July, most of whom were unable to continue their academic studies through the CONTESA educational sponsorship programmes.
The CONTESA Vice-Chair Dr. Margaret McDermott who leads a trustee accompanied visit to Zambia in September and who has undertaken considerable work in bringing this project to fruition is expected to conduct the official opening of the commencement of the skills training programmes together with Mr Masoud Alikhani and various Zambian dignitaries. The VSTC was officially opened last year by Mr John Crowle who had generously donated funds, in memory of his late father and mother, for the construction of the first workshop. TFSR (Tools for Self Reliance) the UK charity have donated tools for the training courses as well as kits for the students who graduate.
The Chair of CONTESA Trustees Mrs. Esnat Avon and the Chairman of BMR Mr. Masoud Alikhani first met in Kabwe in April 2011 when BMR sponsored the costs of the official opening of the Kabwe Church Family Mission Futures Community School and they found that they had a number of ideas and plans in common. They followed up this meeting of minds with a meeting at BMR Head Office in London to discuss their ideas and plans for CONTESA and BMR and how best the charity and mining company might work together sponsoring those orphans who have no relatives or home.
Mr. Alikhani is committed, in conjunction with the development and expansion of BMR, to also help the less fortunate in the Kabwe community and to help regenerate Kabwe. He committed to assist CONTESA at the Kabwe Church Family Mission (CFM) community by arranging for the erection of a fence around the compound. This security wall was completed last year and measures over 520 metres and covers 1.48 hectares and has been nicknamed ‘The Great Wall of Kabwe’.
Mrs Avon and Dr McDermott said that they are extremely excited at the start of teaching at the VSTC which will make a huge difference not just to the orphans and disadvantaged children CONTESA supports but also to the local Kabwe community. They said this is a major project which will deliver quickly skilled young people who will then be able to get employment as skilled artisans or work as independent contractors.
Mr Alikhani said he is also very excited at the prospect of the opening of the CONTESA VSTC as he is totally committed to not only developing a highly successful mining company in Kabwe but also to being one of the main drivers behind a rejuvenated Kabwe which provides for orphans, disadvantaged children, generates employment and helps those in need. He said that he expects in due course that some of the graduates will be able to get jobs with his company. Mr Alikani went on to say that Kabwe has a great history in the mining industry and he also hoped to establish a mining museum in the existing buildings which would become a major Kabwe tourist attraction.