Photo above shows our Founder, the late Bryan Baker with the beginning of a Domestic Kitchen Garden
A brief Biography of our Founder, the late Bryan Edward Baker and some history to how Project OSCAR came to be.
Our greatly missed Founder Bryan Edward Baker, born 1937 in London, UK, suddenly and unexpected passed away on 10 January 2017 in Chongwe District. He has always shown great compassion for people in need and the environment. His work will be remembered and we will do our best to continue in his name.
Bryan lived, worked and volunteered in Zambia and Zimbabwe for 38 years.
His life-long involvement with horticulture and farming in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Western Australia was of great benefit to the people and Oscar projects .
In the past he was an active member of the Naturalist Society of Central Africa and participated in cataloging botanical biodiversity in different parts of the country. In the former Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, he was granted a permit to collect and grow protected and endangered indigenous plants and was occasionally called into Harare Botanical Garden for consultation on identification of plants and other issues. Many plants (Orchids, Cacti and Succulents) from his collection, which was one of the biggest in the Region, where given to other groups and Harare Botanical Garden.
Together with the late Mrs. Kay Linley, he co-authored the book “Flowers of the Veld” in the Bundu Series, published by Longmans of Rhodesia (Pvt.) Ltd benefiting 'The Standing Convention of National Voluntary Youth Organisations'. This book is still available.
Bryan and his wife Anja undertook a visit to Zambia and Zimbabwe in 1995, where Anja fell in love with Zambia and it's people. On their return to Australia, they discussed what can be done to improve people's lives in Zambia. They spend many years researching demographics about the social and health system, agriculture, environment, everything that might be of importance for starting a sustainable Project in Zambia. Information was collected from the internet and books in libraries, and talking with other people from the Region. Friends in Perth, Western Australia, helped to sort all the information to give the Project a format. The Project was designed to fit the needs of communities in the rural areas. Anything that can reduce poverty, preventable diseases, improve health and quality of life, and education was looked at.
The decision was made to freely share the multitude of skills and experiences in agriculture, horticulture, botany, environment and biodiversity, metal and wood work with Zambian people.
The couple went on another trip to Zambia, lasting 3 months November 2006 to February 2007. The first contact for their work in Zambia was Fr. Kennedy Seketa, who was at the time the Coordinator at Provincial Pastoral Care Section of the Archdiocese in Kasama. The couple spoke with Chiefs in the Northern Province and were offered support to find the right people to work with, people who want to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty, giving their children the opportunity of education and a better healthier life.
A lot of research about poverty in parts of Zambia was done, focusing on help people help themselves to be more self-reliant. First, they prepared and designed basic programmes for projects in organic solutions for conservation and agricultural results, hence the name Oscar, which is the abbreviation.
Many things had to be done, including documents for their volunteer work, finding a base, building up a support group etc. Anja went back to Zambia in September 2007 just for that, while Bryan settled everything necessary in Perth, Western Australia. There was a lot of support from friends and co-workers. Bryan arrived in Zambia in November 2007.
Project OSCAR was established with a core-group of 12 Members in 2008. Finally in February 2009 the organisation was registered as Project OSCAR Community Service Society Zambia with the Registrar of Societies under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
A lot of useful items, donated by people in the UK; sorted, packed and shipped by Tools With A Mission, were given for a good cause and other items, such as tools and materials were bought in Zambia.
Bryan demonstrated various ways how to grow vegetables and fruits using compost to regenerate soil, depleted from nutrients and humus. A fruit orchard of suitable species, already growing in Zambia, was established 8 km outside of Kasama, Northern Province. Bryan was in the forefront to show all the ins and outs how to grow and use the local bamboo. Items such as crutches/walking aides, small shelves, clothes racks, kitchen utensils, table lamps, curtain rails, ladders and toys were made from Bambusa vulgaris and Bambusa vittata. The first scholar was a boy, aged 14 years from Chishimba Village, who came to Kasama in the school holidays to learn how to use and make useful items from bamboo. Later Bryan demonstrated bamboo work to Basa Basa Joined Carpentry Club to give them more examples to improve their business, which was at the time very limited.
Brief Biography of (Edeltraud) Anja Baker
Anja was born in 1951 in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, finished her schooling with a Certificate at the Commercial College before taking on nursing through the German Red Cross at the Regional Hospital in Sanderbusch, Lower Saxony. To be closer to her family, she decided to change her career and go into private practice as Arzthelferin (Medical Assistant).
She was trained in all faculties, including caring for the elderly; she worked as factory nurse, in the laboratory, assisting with various Tests including EKGs and Endoscopies at the Paracelsus Klinik in Hensted-Wilstedt, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.
Her interests in the environment and anthropology took her as a 'seafarer' without pay on a container ship for three months half way around the globe. She has seen many different countries and cultures. In 1987 she migrated to Perth, Western Australia (WA), where she found employment as a Medical Assistant in private practice and the Cardiology Department of Royal Perth Hospital.
She was involved in the Natural Health Industry, Reiki, Shiatsu and Reflexology practices and ran her own Wholefood Health Shop in Mt. Hawthorn, Perth for three years.
When she and Bryan moved out into the Hills area she got more involved with land-care and attended courses in environmental studies at the O'Connor Technical College in Northam, WA. Living in Gidgegannup, a small close-knitted community, in the rural area she volunteered for Hills Community Support Group in the close by town of Mundaring, helped to care for the elderly and disabled.
Through her passion for people, particularly children with cancer, medical issues and research she involved herself in fund-raising for the 'Children Cancer Research Institute Australia' and the 'Australian Cancer Foundation'. She organized “Family Fun Days”, was involved in auctions and on her 50th Birthday, she got her head shaved to raise funds through the “Great Shave” campaign.
Like Bryan, Anja loves people and nature. She is passionate about justice for the voice-less. Taking photos is only one of many hobbies she follows, forever being busy with anything useful.
The beginning in 2007 - Anja with women and children in Makasa Village, Northern Province of Zambia