The 2.6 Challenge kicks off on Sunday 26th April when usually thousands of people would be running The London Marathon raising money for hundreds of charities. Instead challenge yourself to do anything that has the figures 2 and 6 in it and raise much needed funds.

Be a stay at home hero and raise money to help orphans and other vulnerable children in Zambia during the global coronavirus pandemic.

What’s the challenge

  • The 2.6 challenge kicks off on Sunday 26thApril when it would have been the London Marathon’s 40th anniversary.
  • Instead of running a marathon (although you can if you like) the challenge can be anything you like – as long as it has the figures 2 and 6 in it!
  • Your 2.6 challenge can be done anywhere, including your own home. Just remember to follow government guidelines on exercise and social distancing.

When is the challenge?

The challenge starts on 26 April. But you don’t have to do it on this day, it can be any day around this date, or for the ultimate challenge you could do something every day for 26 days!

2.6 challenge ideas

  • 26km around your garden or living room
  • 26 star jumps or burpees or squat jumps
  • Plank for 2.6 minutes
  • Walk up and down your stairs 26 times
  • How many cups of tea can you drink in 26 minutes?
  • Blow 26 bubbles 
  • Shoot 26 hoops 
  • Make a meal using 26 ingredients

Why we need your help?

  • The orphans and other vulnerable children we support in Zambia receive a free nutritious meal at school each day. With schools closed and food prices sky-rocketing there is a desperate need to provide food packages to vulnerable families so that no child goes hungry.
  • Most households we work with have limited access to hygiene materials such as soap and hand sanitizer making good hygiene practices more challenging and increasing the likelihood of contracting and passing on COVID-19. We’re distributing bars of soap to orphans and vulnerable children and their households

How do I donate?

Where will my money go?

  • £2 can provide a child and their family with 2 bars of soap
  • £20 can provide an emergency food package for a child to share with their family for a month
  • £80 can provide a hand washing station for thousands of people
  • £66 can pay for one of our frontline workers to provide key ‘stop the spread’ message to hundreds of people living in isolated villages 

Share your pictures and videos on social media and let us know how you’re getting on. Don’t forget to use #twopointsixchallenge and tag us             

ZOA-UK response to COVID-19 in Zambia

On 20th March 2020 the Zambian Government closed all schools, colleges and universities. Four days later it announced a systematic lockdown banning gatherings of more than 50 people and advising people to stay at home. The consequence means many have lost the ability to earn an income and ZOA supported school children are no longer able to get their daily free school meal.

The city of Lusaka has been declared an epicentre and other locations in Lusaka have been declared RED zones. It’s highly likely the worst is yet to come and with only half the healthcare workers needed, according to WHO, Zambia is ill-prepared to deal with a pandemic like COVID-19.

Zambia is one of the world’s poorest countries. The country has been hugely affected by AIDS, and as antiretroviral treatment doesn’t work on an empty stomach, it’s important people have food to eat.

Particularly in the Southern Province rainfall has been low for two years and crops have failed. This has left families, already living in poverty, without food.

The price of staple foods such as maize, rice and wheat have increased because of the food shortage leaving people unable to afford to buy the basics. There is a desperate need to provide food rations to vulnerable families so that no child goes hungry.

Most households have very limited access to hygiene materials such as soap and hand sanitiser making good hygiene practices more challenging and increasing the likelihood of contracting and passing on COVID-19.

ZOA-UK with our grassroots Zambian partners will be:

  • distributing emergency food to orphans and vulnerable children and their households
  • distributing soap to orphans and vulnerable children and their households
  • delivering key health messages to Stop the Spread of COVID-19


49% of students who took part in a survey carried out by Zambia Orphans Aid had suicidal thoughts. 

Orphans and vulnerable children are at a higher risk of suffering adverse social, health and economic effects due to poverty because they lack the family structures to support them. 70% of students who took part in the survey reported they had lost family members in the past two-year period linking bereavement to poor mental health. Without families to support them orphans and vulnerable children need extra care and support, both practical and emotional, to fully participate in school and their community and to do the everyday things that most of us take for granted. 

Thelma, 16 years old said, “If you ask me if there is anything that makes me happy, I will say nothing makes me happy. There are a lot of things that make me sad. Firstly, my mother’s abusive language and character, and knowing she is HIV positive. At times she buys food for my young brother but not me. My mother was raped then she conceived me. I think this is the reason why she hates me so much. I don’t know who my father is. All this hurts me a lot and made me at one point think about not wanting to live anymore.”

Mental health and psychosocial support can help orphans and vulnerable children and their communities heal psychological wounds and rebuild social structures. It can help change people into active survivors rather than passive victims. 

ZOA-UK, a small charity working to change the future for children in Zambia, has been awarded a UK aid grant from the UK Government’s Department for International Development. The grant will fund a project to:

  • train staff and volunteers in psychosocial counselling;
  • provide counselling to orphans and vulnerable children at home and at school
  • train orphans and vulnerable children in life skills to improve poor emotional health and social behaviour;
  • sensitize schools, teachers and peer educators about the challenges orphans and vulnerable children face.

Katy Dore, Executive Director of Zambia Orphans Aid UK said: “It’s shocking how many students in our survey felt that they didn’t want to live anymore. By addressing the mental health issues that so many orphans and vulnerable children experience we can improve their self-esteem and aspirations that in turn will reduce absenteeism and poor performance at school and help them transform their lives. We’re delighted to be able to implement this project with funding from the Government’s Small Charities Challenge Fund.”

International Development Minister, Baroness Sugg said: “Every child deserves to be safe, healthy and happy. That is why UK aid is supporting Zambia Orphans Aid UK to deliver essential counselling, build support networks and boost skills to help children get the best start in life.

“The Small Charities Challenge Fund makes it easier for small British charities like Zambia Orphans Aid UK to access UK aid, helping them to improve and save lives.”


For further information, interviews or images please contact: Rachel Palmer, Communications Lead on 07974 398710 or [email protected]

Notes to editors

Background on Zambia Orphans Aid UK

  • ZOA-UK was founded by, Dr Shimwaayi Muntemba, an inspiring Zambian lady, as a response to the AIDS crisis that decimated the country leaving 1.2 million orphans and two thirds of its people under the age of 25. 
  • We help orphans and other vulnerable children access education, giving them the potential to transform their lives. We do this by supplying uniforms, books and tuition fees, funding nutritious meals, creating inspiring learning environments, helping school leavers gain vocational qualifications and providing girls with sanitary pads to keep them in the classroom.
  • We partner with grassroots groups in some of the poorest communities assisting them to find sustainable solutions that move children and youths out of poverty. In 2018 we supported 2,000 orphans and other vulnerable children.

Background on SCCF

  • The Small Charities Challenge Fund (SCCF) re-opened for applications on 5 September 2019. It’s DFID’s first programme dedicated to working with very small British charities to help meet the UN Global Goals. The next review date for applications is 28 November 2019. To apply, and for more information, go to www.ukaiddirect.org/apply/sccf.
  • SCCF provides project grants of up to £50,000 to UK registered charities with an annual income of £250,000 or less. 
  • SCCF is tailored to the needs of small UK-based charities doing outstanding development work and feedback from these organisations has informed its design. For example, the SCCF operates a one-stage application process only – so it is quicker to apply – a streamlined due diligence, and a tailored payment in advance approach to support with cash flow.

Background on DFID

  • The Department for International Development (DFID) leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty. 
  • We are tackling the global challenges of our time including poverty and disease, climate change, insecurity and conflict. 
  • Our work is building a safer, healthier, more prosperous world for people in developing countries and in the UK too.

Giving to ZOA-UK with Amazon Smile

Every time you shop with the online retailer, Amazon, you can now generate an income for our work. Amazon will donate 0.5% of the net purchase price (excluding VAT, returns and shipping fees) of eligible purchases to Zambia Orphans Aid UK, so please make sure you set up an Amazon Smile account, select us as your chosen charity and make all your purchases through Amazon Smile. AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service. To find out more and choose to support Zambia Orphans Aid UK please visit by clicking this link – Amazon Smile

UK Aid Direct funds ZOA-UK to reduce girls’ absenteeism

ZOA-UK is excited to announce it has received grant funding from UK Aid Direct to run a two-year project to reduce girls’ absenteeism by improving their access to sanitary products.

Around the world many girls are missing school because they cannot afford sanitary products. Girls we work with in Zambia miss 30 days of school each year – half due to their period*. ZOA-UK has secured a Small Charities Challenge Fund grant funded with UK aid from the UK Government to run a project to provide girls with reusable sanitary pads, helping them remain in the classroom and progress in education.

To create lasting change in deprived communities understanding amongst boys and girls about the mystery of menstruation must be improved. That’s why our local partners are running workshops for girls and boys, volunteers, parents/guardians, teachers, community leaders and peer educators to overturn stigma and superstitions such as;

  • Sometimes boys menstruate – believed by 9% of girls and 10% of boys*
  • Menstruating girls should not add salt to food because they can cause a cough in men – believed by 39% of girls and 25% of boys*
  • Burning or burying used sanitary materials leads to infertility – believed by 30% of girls and 20% of boys*

The funding from UK Aid Direct runs until 2020 at which point we will have delivered workshops for 1,000 children and youths, provided 500 girls with access to healthy menstrual hygiene management messaging, sensitised 245 carers, provided 430 girls and 580 of their female relatives with reusable sanitary pads, and improved hand washing facilities at two community schools.

*Results of ZOA-UK’s baseline survey on Menstrual Hygiene Management, October 2018.

Independence Day Appeal

To mark Zambia’s Independence Day on 24 October we are launching an appeal to raise funds for our vital work feeding orphaned and vulnerable children in Zambia. Many disadvantaged children in schools in Zambia struggle to focus in class, simply because they are hungry. Providing a nutritious daily meal helps to improve their concentration, school attendance and attainment.

We must raise funds for simple ingredients such as mealie meal, chicken, beef, beans and vegetables, that the staff and volunteers working for our grassroots’ partners can transform into nutritious meals – that children rely on. It costs us just £1.92 a month or £23 a year to feed a child. Please help by donating here. Thank you.

Our appeal on BBC Radio 4

Journalist and broadcaster, John Sergeant, presented our appeal on BBC Radio 4, featuring Susan Nawila, pictured. After finding twin babies abandoned near her home, Susan founded a community club that now cares for over 100 children, helping them access education and improve their chances of living independent lives. You can still donate to ZOA by using the DONATE button above or calling +44 (0) 1223 890162. All donations will help community groups, like Susan’s club, educate and care for orphaned and vulnerable children.

Meet Grace Chisomo

Grace is being supported to complete her nursing and midwifery course this year. Zambia has a desperate need for qualified health professionals so when we discovered that Grace was at risk of dropping out of her course after her family suffered a tragedy that left them unable to afford her fees, we stepped in to help. Grace is now looking forward to completing her course and welcoming many more children into the world.

Floyd’s story

Working hard to complete their education – Twavwane’s kids