The following is an e-postcard from Kai Iizuka, a GlobalGiving Representative in Zambia.
When I was told I was going to be meeting with a grandmother that Chikumbuso takes care of and had recently bought a new rocket stove for, I was expecting to meet a frail old lady spending her days within her house. Instead, I was presented with a hale, energetic, talkative woman who from the way she moved, you wouldn’t have thought she were a day over thirty. Esnart was her name, and I was able to hear her life story through Ms. Beauty, her Chikumbuso caretaker, who kindly acted as an interpreter.
Esnart was living alone due to the fact that she had lost her husband and outlived seven of her eight children, who had left her many grandchildren. However, she did not seem lonely at all, with her neighbors and others in the community constantly interacting with her and Beauty passing through to see how she was doing every morning. Though she used to make a living through piece work in order to feed her family, thanks to the monthly supplies she gets from Chikumbuso, a lot of that burden has been lifted and I was told that she now works as a successful marriage counselor with many clients.
The newly acquired rocket stove, she explained, was a lot more efficient than what she used to have as it is significantly easier to use, consumed less coal, and allowed for nshima to be cooked within thirty minutes. This is a great improvement over the coal brier that she used to use to cook with, which was slow and required a lot of expensive coal to use. While I was there, with help from two boys that had tagged along from Chikumbuso, she was able to quickly fix herself a meal using only two pieces of charcoal and a few sticks.
Last night I had dinner with 10 lovely women and as I looked around the table I realized that six of the ladies I had invited were teachers. For the most part I love teachers and obviously enjoy the company of these six women in particular. One of the ladies is a fourth grade teacher which inspired each one of us in turn to speak of our own fourth grade teachers and how much they had meant to us. There is something to be said about elementary teachers, after all, they are the reason that we even made it to middle school!
Teachers work hard.
As I think about our 6 teachers at Chikumbuso I am reminded of not only how hard they work but also of the love that they share with these orphans and how much they are loved in return. Chikumbuso raises money to send these orphans off to middle school and highschool as a gift for their hard work. Yet I believe our teachers work just as hard if not harder. In each of our classes at Chikumbuso we have over 40 students. That is forty children in a small classroom. Some of our classes have been split to morning students and afternoon students to bring more focus to the individual student. That is double the work for a teacher. And then there is all the after school clubs they offer like boyscouts, gospel choir, environmental club, reading club, journalism....
Think about your elementary teachers and thank them by supporting ours. They deserve it.
This past summer a group of about 20 Chikumbuso widows, students, STARY participants and single moms worked with artist/educator Nancy MacBride to create one-of-a-kind dolls.The dolls were made from repurposed plastic bottles, found items and paper mache. This is in keeping with our upscale theme at Chikumbuso where we strive to make a difference in our world by making upscaled art (such as our Chikumbuso bags). While Nancy was there she spent some time in our library reading with her sponsored child Maria and her friends as well as a young first grader Enoch who is sponsored by a friend of Nancy's. Having a quiet place to spend quality time with these kids was such a blessing to Nancy who, as an art teacher in Voluntown, Ct. knows the power behind the book.
Thank you so much for helping us to build and support this beautiful library where life time connections to friends and the world beyond Lusaka can be made.
By the way Nancy will sell the dolls as well as Chikumbuso’s other products at “Art-Is-You Stamford” in October 2013.