The dedication of Alison Ray and a group of Queensland Rotary clubs has seen Australian-Zambian charity Our Rainbow House go from strength to strength.
In 2022, Zambian school Our Rainbow House celebrated a huge milestone – 10 years since the doors opened! The charity came about after founder Alison Ray had the pleasure of volunteering at the School of St. Jude’s in Tanzania. Following this experience, Alison went to Zambia to visit her son’s sponsored child.
The journey took Alison to an impoverished and densely populated compound on the outskirts of Lusaka. Many members of this community were orphans and vulnerable children. Here, Alison had an epiphany, that this was where God meant for her to do some work. The feeling was overwhelming, and could not be denied. She knew that she had to come back when the time was right.
Alison progressed to form a committee of a small group of friends in Emerald, Qld. In 2012, with foundational funds, they opened the school for 51 orphans and vulnerable children.
“It is hugely rewarding to see the students who, through sadness, loss, hunger, extreme poverty or sickness, still come in the school gates, smiling and thankful to have an education!”
Alison approached the Rotary clubs in Emerald, and the Rotary Club of Emerald Sunrise offered to apply to RAWCS for membership. In February 2013, this was granted. They then had to reach out for a project manager and, at that time, the members of the Emerald clubs were not able to offer their time for this.
Alison remembers receiving a Christmas card from long-time friends John and Jessie Cutler, from Toowoomba, Qld, wherein Jessie mentioned that John was busy with Rotary. Bingo! John has been with Our Rainbow House ever since, and what a massive help he has been professionally and psychologically.
John also brought two other members from his Rotary Club of Toowoomba Garden City over to Zambia for three weeks and ran a clean-up campaign and built toilets for some of the families.
Our Rainbow House has been blessed with the support of the three clubs who have sponsored students and teachers over the years – and still do – not just through the Rotary club, but personally as well.
In February 2019, Alison received the RAWCS Humanitarian Service Award for her dedication to Our Rainbow House.
Fundraising in Australia for a project in Zambia can be challenging. Our Rainbow House adheres to the guidelines of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID). The charity has seen the school through COVID. It has put a halt to volunteers from Australia visiting and working at the school. Staff and students showed great resilience coping through lockdowns in Zambia, and they have now come through the other side.
Our Rainbow House has provided education, nutrition and safe haven to so many children, employment for local Zambians, and support for the entire community. The school faces the same problems as any other school – nothing is perfect. But it is hugely rewarding to see the students who, through sadness, loss, hunger, extreme poverty or sickness, still come in the school gates, smiling and thankful to have an education!
PICTURED: Zambian Project Coordinator Mary Matandiko handing out her hand-baked cake to Our Rainbow House students as part of the school’s Teachers’ Day celebrations.