The Mechanics for Serenje and Chibobo project commenced in 2008 following a visit to Chibobo by a group from St. Mary's Anglican Church, Sunbury, Australia. Some of the team members noticed how there was a need to assist with skills in the maintenance of the community's infrastructure, including the training of locals in this field. The following article outlines some of the vision for the project. Click on the links at the bottom to find out more about the Mechanics for Serenje & Chibobo project. Mechanics Workshop

Mechanics for Serenje & Chibobo Vision statement to Serenje council

Zambia is modernizing rapidly with more people owning motor vehicles and appliances.The understanding of the need to maintain this equipment, or the skill to carry out even the most basic forms of maintenance, is not well developed. Mechanics for Serenje and Chibobo has a vision to meet the need for vehicle maintenance in the district, while generating revenue to assist the Chibobo and Serenje orphanages become self-sustaining.

It is also part of Zambian life that people walk long distances to get to school, work and the shops. Goods purchased must then be carried back to the home, which can be a considerable burden, particularly for the women and children.The vision encompasses several stages, to progressively develop the skills, capabilities and capital to establish a high standard workshop facility in Serenje. The first stage is to provide training to capable young people, initially in motor mechanics.There are opportunities to extend this training over time to include auto electrics, electrical wiring, plumbing and other essential skills that are needed to develop and maintain facilities, as electricity and running water become more widely available. This part of the vision is already being implemented. A young man from Chibobo is training as a motor mechanic at Mechanics for Africa in Ndola. He has now completed the first 6 months of the two year course and is making good progress. The cost of the course fees, accommodation, meals and travel will amount to ZMK 11,000,000 and is being shared equally bythe Chibobo and Serenje orphanages. The young man has signed a contract to work for 6 years for the orphanages. If he chooses not to complete the contract, he is required to reimburse the costs of the course on a pro-rata basis.

The second stage provides bicycles to the community to make travel easier and less time consuming. Two organizations, Bicycles for Humanity and Bicycle Empowerment Network are already providing programs to supply bicycles to Namibia and other parts of Africa.The concept is to collect bicycles from developed countries and ship them in sea containers to the destination.On arrival, the container becomes a workshop and local people are trained to perform the ongoing maintenance program needed for the bicycles. It is planned to link up with these organizations to implement a similar, first at Chibobo and later at Serenje, if the program is successful.Allocation of the initial shipment of bicycles would be to the carers/guardians at the orphanages, then to others on the basis of making a contribution to the community and being trained in maintenance as a condition for receiving the bicycle. The first shipment of bicycles will be delivered as part of Stage 3. The third stage of the project is to set up a small vehicle workshop in Chibobo. The nucleus of the workshop will be a 40 ft. shipping container. The container would be set up in Melbourne with extra doors, electrical wiring and benches. It will be used to deliver the air compressor, generator, servicing equipment and the initial shipment of bicycles. On arrival at Chibobo, the container would be fitted with a roof along one wall and become the basis for the bicycle and vehicle workshop with secure equipment storage. The mechanic in training would initially work out of this workshop. The fourth stage is the construction and operation of a modern, well equipped, commercial work shop in Serenje, using the equipment shipped to Chibobo in Stage 3. The feasibility, legal and commercial requirements to staff and operate this work shop will be developed over time. This stage commenced with a meeting between the team and representatives of the Chibobo and Serenje orphanages on 17th July 2009.

To find out more:

Mechanics article
Chibobo mechanics reports
Mechanics for Serenje & Chibobo Vision
Mechanics for Serenje Verstry Report 16th Feb 09
MFC Contribution form
MFC Newsletter 2
MFC Newsletter 1
MFS Vestry Report 20 April 2009
VACC Article
WMMechanics for Chibobo Report