Volunteer Visit Report


Volunteer Trip Report: Good Progress in Zambia!

Government Progress:

During the 2021 Election, candidate Hakainde Hichilema promised to make education a priority, including free public education for all eight million Zambian children.  Some of those promises are being fulfilled.

  • In January 2022 free education was extended to secondary schools and high school enrollments have been dramatically increasing.
  • In 2022-2023 the government hired 30,000 additional teachers. More teachers are still needed but this was a dramatic improvement.
  • The national government has pledged to build 120 additional secondary schools
  • Bernard Mpundu, Permanent Secretary (Governor) of the Northern Province has promised over 3,000 new desks for schools in the province. This will mean desks for more than 6,000 additional students.
  • A number of new teachers colleges, nursing colleges, and other colleges and universities have opened in recent years increasing capacity for more college students. This will be important for the growing number of high school graduates who can obtain funding for college.

While the Zambian education system remains inadequate the progress noted here represents big steps forward.  If this progress can be maintained and expanded it bodes well for many individual youth in Zambia and for the progress of the country as a whole.

Zambia Scholarship Fund Progress:

The impact ZSF has had in the past 24 years is nothing short or remarkable.

  • Thousands of students have been able to attend high school with the help of tuition funding from ZSF donors. (Now that high school is free we only need to provide board and room costs for students that have to attend boarding high schools.)
  • Many hundreds of students have been able to attend college because of tuition sponsorships from ZSF donors. With less funding now needed for high school students ZSF is able to increase its impact at the college level.
  • Several hundred teachers have been employed and sent to schools in need of teachers. This changes the lives of the teachers and the students they serve.
  • ZSF began work on building classrooms only a few years ago. In a short time more than two dozen schools or classroom blocks have been completed or are currently in progress.
  • From bicycles to sewing machines to micro loans, there are many other ways that ZSF has impacted lives in Zambia.

Yes, there is much more that needs to be done and can be done, but the impact of ZSF’s work over the past 24 years is astonishing.  Doug Nielsen just made his third trip to Zambia and he noted that, “Everywhere I go I am surprised at how well known ZSF is.  From government officials (even Ambassadors and Provincial Governors), to the education community to people in numerous villages.  They know the name Zambia Scholarship Fund.  They know our Zambian team.  And they are deeply grateful.”

Generational Change:

ZSF donors receive letters from students they’ve helped with tuition or teachers they’ve adopted.  These reports let us know the difference we’re making in the individual lives of the students and teachers.  But after 24 years of work ZSF has also created generational change.

For example, Josephat is a teacher that was sponsored for college more than ten years ago.  Doug Nielsen was able to meet with him in Zambia in July.  Josephat began working as a ZSF untrained teacher about fourteen years ago.  He was then sponsored for college and became a government teacher.  Now his two oldest children are attending college, paid for by Josephat.  He and his wife welcomed Doug into their comfortable home and repeatedly gave credit and thanks to ZSF for changing not only their lives but also the lives of their children and in time, the lives of their grandchildren.

There are thousands of young people who have been able to go to high school or college in the 24 years ZSF has been operating.  Many are now adults supporting themselves and their families.  Individual lives have been changed and that is now impacting second and even third generations.  A donor helps to plant one little sapling and that tender shoot grows into a sturdy tree with more and more branches spreading out.  The sponsor likely will never know just how many more people benefit from the act of that first small planting.

2023 News:

In July Doug Nielsen and Cayden Ottley were able to travel to Zambia.  This was Doug’s third trip, having previously visited in 2010 and 2014.  He had plans for a return trip in both 2020 and 2021 but the pandemic caused flights to be cancelled and the trips postponed.  Cayden is a young man who became involved with ZSF just a few years ago and this was his first trip to Zambia.  Here is some of what they saw and were able to do while there.

Recent School Additions:

We visited five classroom blocks recently built or under construction by ZSF in:

Mansha East Village, 3 classrooms to replace an old two classroom school where the walls had collapsed.  Previously the village has had just one teacher that was funded by ZSF.  As a result of ZSF constructing the new school the government agreed to send four government teachers and so this village now has five teachers serving the 185 students.  Since returning Cayden has worked to obtain funding to drill a well for the school so that students will no longer have to walk some distance to a river to fetch water.

Chawama Primary, 3 classrooms built by ZSF.  The classrooms have desks, chalkboards, walls covered with maps and posters and a lot of engaged students.  ZSF provides one teacher in addition to the government teachers at this school.  Doug spent 32 years in education including 27 in school administration and he said he’d have been happy to hire the head teacher or any of the other teachers at this school.  He said, “Some great learning is going on here.”

Chawama School: l-r  Mr. Chanda, Head Teacher; Doug Nielsen; Kalekanya, Village Head, Chitalu Mushibwe, ZSF Teacher

– Kabundi Primary, 2 classrooms built by ZSF, recently opened.

Mponda Primary, 3 classrooms under construction by ZSF to supplement existing classrooms.  The walls are about half way up.  Villagers haul in sand and materials to help reduce costs.

Chafwa Secondary – A new secondary school was created in Chafwa Village with four classrooms constructed by ZSF and four classrooms constructed by the Solon Foundation (UK).  Prior to these classrooms there was no secondary school in Chafwa and students had to walk a very long distance, including crossing a stream, to attend an overcrowded secondary school.  There are 40-60 students in most classes but the students are very engaged and many are preparing to attend college.  The school is in need of another classroom for a science lab as currently science can only be taught by textbook.

A 12th grade student, Isaac Mukuka, spoke to us and said, “It is a privilege to stand before you to give you a vote of thanks. We are so grateful to the funders of our classroom block, which was handed over in 2022.  Your gesture has already been written in the history of our school and indeed in the minds of many of us and we shall be forever indebted to your good heartedness.”  Isaac hopes to attend college after graduation and study Agriculture Science.

New School Openings:  Doug and Cayden had the honor of participating in the opening of new classrooms at two schools.

Chishipula Primary, Two new classrooms constructed by ZSF were opened at this primary school on the outskirts of Kasama.  The school has 1022 students with only ten teachers, 9 government + one ZSF.  The Permanent Secretary (Governor) of the Northern Province attended the opening along with the Provincial Education Officer (PEO) and other dignitaries including our Zambian Advisory Board.

-Chishipula New Classrooms Ribbon Cutting: Head Teacher with Doug Nielsen and Mr. Bernard Mpundu, Permanent Secretary (Governor) of the Northern Province.

-Chibo Primary, A ribbon was cut opening the new three-classroom school to replace the old one classroom school where one wall and the roof had collapsed.  The District Commissioner along with other government officials and the ZSF Board attended the opening of this school.


Dr. Doug Nielsen, a licensed psychologist and educator, has traveled to Zambia three times.  Each time he has taken soccer balls to give to children and bush schools.  He’s been heard to say, “If I could bottle the amazing feeling one has when you see the incredible joy Zambian children have about just one real soccer ball, I think I could cure depression.”

2024 Looking Toward ZSF’s 25th Anniversary

Next year, 2024 will mark the 25th Anniversary of Zambia Scholarship Fund’s work in Africa.  While in Zambia in July, Doug Nielsen had a wonderful experience that brought back memories from the 10th Anniversary celebration back in 2009.  He wrote this about what happened.

“In 2009 while serving on the ZSF Board we held a tenth anniversary celebration including a fund raising concert.  Val Stokes arranged for the Zambian Ambassador to the United States to visit Utah for several days.  He paid for a driver to transport her and I had the honor of being her escort to events such as a dinner, the concert, meeting with Utah government officials, touring LDS Church humanitarian sites, meeting with Utah business leaders, etc.  Her name is Dr. Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika.  She had previously been a member of the Zambian parliament, is of Zambian royal lineage, holds a doctorate from NYU, and a year after visiting Utah she was named Zambian Ambassador to the European Union in Brussels.  She is a remarkable woman and was very gracious and friendly.  While accompanying her on her visit she was very open and taught me a lot about Zambia, its challenges and its progress.  After her visit she gladly wrote letters on Embassy letterhead in support of ZSF.

On this 2023 visit our hosts in Lusaka, Fred and Patricia Kafula, had a dinner for us with a number of their relatives and friends.  One of who was Carol Egdamo who works for an NGO in Lusaka.  She was very interested in ZSF’s work and talked with us for a long time.  During the conversation I mentioned meeting Dr. Lewanika back in 2009 and Carol told me she knew the Ambassador and that she had just celebrated her 80th birthday a few days before.  Carol suggested that I should talk to Dr. Lewanika and though I said I doubted she would remember me, about 30 minutes later Carol handed me her phone with Dr. Lewanika on the line.  She did remember me and her trip to Utah and we had a wonderful conversation.  She has since emailed me and said if I were able to visit Zambia again she would like to meet with me.  This was an ‘icing on the cake’ moment for me and a reminder of just how wonderful the Zambian people are.  On my three visits to Zambia I’ve been treated as though I were royalty.”

Zambian Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Inonge, Mbukisita-Lewanki in the Utah State Capitol Building after meeting with Utah Government officials while on her visit to Utah in 2009 for the 10th Anniversary of ZSF.

Children in Zambia Named Peggy

by Doug Nielsen

I have heard from Scott Rogers and others that there have been a number of girls in Zambia that have been given the name Peggy because of the work of our founder.   What an honor for Peggy’s work all these years.

In 2010 I met Levy Chintibe, an untrained ZSF teacher in Chabala Village.  He was my guide around the village for two days.  In our conversations I learned that he wanted to become a teacher but as an orphan and with a younger sister to care for he didn’t have the financial resources to attend college.  I was very impressed with Levy and told him that if he got accepted to college I would sponsor him.  He did get accepted and I fulfilled my promise and funded him for college.  When he finished his exams he sent me the announcement of his graduation and in 2014 I was able to attend his graduation ceremony.

College costs in 2011-2013 were only about $600 per year and I didn’t think my sponsorship was any sacrifice on my part.  Nor did I think attending his graduation was that big of a deal.  But to a young man without parents, to him it was a big deal.  We have stayed in touch over the years and I’ve been able to follow his career, his marriage, and the birth of a child.  He always tells me he’s where he is because of me.  I remind him that it was he who had to do the work and overcome the challenges.  I have eleven wonderful grandchildren here in the U.S.  And on July 9th and 10th in Zambia I had the unbelievable honor of meeting and holding my honorary 12th grandchild, young Nielsen Chintibe.

Levy is a teacher at a school for the deaf and blind and Chinsali.  His wife Naomi is a physics and chemistry teacher at a secondary school in Chinsali.