Violette Zhu spent her summer volunteering with Chikumbuso through her scholarship program at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Below is her electronic postcard from her time with Chikumbuso.
Seven weeks ago, Chikumbuso became a zoo. We have bright butterflies and soaring birds, giant lizards and cheerful fish. Everywhere you look there are animals, both familiar and exotic. Children beam and dance as our collection of critters grows. But don’t worry, the zoo is perfectly safe, and here’s why!While I have been here, I have facilitated a school-wide mural project, among other things. Every week, a different grade contributes another share of the animal kingdom to the formerly bare basketball wall as they learn about the animals of Zambia in class. Though formally I’m leading the project, in practice I’m following the direction of the students, since they are the ones who boss me around and tell me when we need to get more paint, or where there are still white spots to fill in. To be honest, I generally just teach them how to use the rollers, tell them where not to paint, and keep them from falling off of the improvised tire-ladders that they use to reach the higher spots on the wall. The children are creative, resourceful, talented, and sometimes mischievous. While I marvel at their artistic talent, I’m even prouder of their ability to work together to achieve a bigger goal.Chikumbuso certainly teaches these orphans facts and figures, but we also create leaders with big dreams to give back to the community. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I ask, and I get a myriad of responses. “A doctor, a lawyer, a pilot, a movie star, an entrepreneur!” Some wise ones readily admit that they don’t yet know, and to me, that’s even more amazing. For these kids, the world is full of possibility, for Chikumbuso has given them the opportunity to explore a realm outside of the slum in which they live.I came to Chikumbuso nearly two months ago not knowing what to expect, and in one week, I will leave feeling the same way. I don’t have this place figured out, and I don’t think anyone ever will. There is a certain magic, a sense of hope, that is impossible to explain without experiencing it in person. All I know is that Chikumbuso is a special sanctuary that I will always regard as a second home.Please help support a project that is loved by the 400+ widows, orphans, single mothers, and at-risk youth that it has touched by donating towards the organization, sponsoring a child, buying a bag, and/or filling out the following survey, which I created to help the widows get feedback on customer handbag design preferences (the proceeds from bag sales help keep the school operating)! Thank you!https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NMHH9DQ
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