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The work of The Butterfly Tree

The work of The Butterfly Tree

Princess Anne, Jane Kaye-Bailey with The Butterfly Tree Volunteers
Princess Anne, Jane Kaye-Bailey with The Butterfly Tree Volunteers

Zambezi Traveller talks with the founder of The Butterfly Tree, Jane Kaye-Bailey. The charity was conceived after Jane and her late husband Lawrence visited Zambia on a business incentive trip in February 2006. During a visit to the Mukuni Village they learned about the decimation caused by HIV/Aids in Zambia, where every family has been affected in some way. Of 1000 pupils attending Mukuni Basic School, 450 were orphans. Shocked and disturbed by what she had learnt, Jane was determined to find a way to raise funds to help these vulnerable children.

‘As young butterflies emerge from their pupae, they are placed in a tree, where their wings can continue to develop. Then they are released into the wild’.

ZT:  I am sure this charity has profoundly affected you and given you a greater understanding of two of Africa’s major challenges; HIV/Aids and poverty. Did you realize what a huge difference you could really make?
Yes it has very much affected me, running it takes up a great deal of my time, but it is so very worthwhile and hugely rewarding. Although I was obviously aware of how bad the poverty is in many African countries, I was pretty ignorant about the HIV/Aids pandemic and the devastation it has caused. I soon learnt that it was imperative to address this issue if we were to make any progress. Our projects are based on providing the essentials in life: water, food, health and education and include HIV/Aids workshops, peer education in schools for HIV prevention, and supporting the education of orphans. I never intended to head a charity in both the UK and Zambia, however without sounding too corny; it does ‘get under your skin.’ I love working with Zambians and it just grew and grew. From its concept my aim was to work in one area at a time so that we could make a difference, rather than spread ourselves too thinly Originally our funding was to offer support to the orphans; I still find it hard to believe how much we have expanded and how many remote villages we have assisted.

ZT:  What has been the highlight for you with this project over the past six and a half years?
Running a charity brings out every possible emotion and there are many highs and lows. Helping children is what moves me the most. When I came across twin baby boys in October 2010, who had lost their mother and sister during childbirth, I actually broke down; they were so fragile and not expected to survive. The hospital could only give them water and their grandmother had to rely on well-wishers to help her. I heard about this tragic case when they were just two weeks old. They were discharged from Livingstone hospital weighing merely 1.1 kgs and 1.3 kgs and were taken to Kamwi Village to be cared for by their grandmother, who had very little means. From that day until present we have provided all their needs. In September, wearing two little t-shirts with the Union Jack on the front, I introduced Elvis and Vincent to Princess Anne. The highlight of all my work was to see them this October on their second birthday.

ZT: How often do you come to visit?
I come out to Zambia two or three times a year and stay for three weeks.

ZT:  Tell us a little bit about your team and your future goals.
My entire team both in the UK and Zambia is made up of volunteers, which has enabled us to give virtually 100% of all donations directly into the grassroots projects. In the UK we all work from our homes, I fund the administration costs and in Zambia we use the schools for meetings instead of renting office space. Even our website is donated by one of our trustees.
In Zambia the local team is amazing and they have all been with me since 2006. We have a lot of expertise: Mupotola Siloka, chairman of the HIV/Aids Board for the Southern Province; Stain Musungaila, chairman of the Livingstone Malaria Board; Presley Mulenga, head teacher of Mukuni Basic School and Martin Mushabati, Councilor for the Kazungula District.
Our future goals are to make the areas we are working in more sustainable. So far we have spread our work to three Chiefdoms: Mukuni, Musokatwane and Sekute. We aim to reach out to more remote communities to improve their water, health and education and facilities.

ZT: Jane, thank you to you and your team for making a difference to a special Zambezi community.

Website: www.thebutterflytree.org.uk

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 11, Dec 2012)

Read more about the region in our destination guide:
Livingstone