As Americans gear up for the holiday season, here in Zambia we are gearing up for the end of the school year. Our students are excitedly studying for their exams, teachers are wrapping up lesson plans, and everyone is dreaming of the new year and the new hope it brings.
This year has been a successful one for our school, we welcomed more students than ever before, and they continue to amaze us with their discipline, their dedication to their work, and their gratefulness for being able to study. They know that their plans for their future are not written in pencil any more, easily erased. They are firmly inscribed in ink pen - with the help of donors like you. So many other things in their lives are uncertain and quick to be undone. But through your support we can stand behind our kids, committed to their education and their futures.
If you haven't yet donated to the Classroom Sponsorship program, I encourage you to do so. By supporting a classroom, you are guaranteeing those kids the opportunity to learn, grow, and plan for their lives.
Every time I visit Chikumbuso I am surprised by some aspect of the project. This time it is the maturity and eagerness to learn that I see demonstrated in our students. Ten years ago, at the outset of Chikumbuso, there were 30 very bedraggled students ranging from six to ten years of age. They were frightened by the white woman, thankful to be invited into school, and hoping for food for lunch and a bit extra to take home to their families.
Today these same students and 420 more portray a new picture. These students are bright, well dressed and healthy. One of these students is Teddy a 17 year old eighth grader. Teddy grew up in the far eastern corner of Zambia with a single mom and a younger sister. Life was a struggle and he did not go to school. At seven years old his uncle came to the village to take him to his father in Lusaka where they hoped he would be able to finally get an education.
Teddy said nothing changed. His father did not have the means to send him to school. What a disappointment. One day his neighbor, a teacher at Chikumbuso, came and took him to school. He did not speak English and he could not read but the teachers at Chikumbuso were tender with him and today Teddy is ranked number one in his eighth grade class. Given the opportunity of a life time he grabbed hold of it. He works hard and his peers respect him.
Your donations help to keep Teddy and others like him in school.
Thank you so much.
Yesterday Beauty took me out on one of her visits to see a grandmother in need.
When we arrived Magadalena was sleeping on her veranda on a grass mat at the front of her house.
Beauty stirred her sleep with a pat on the back. "Mbuya (grandmother) we are here to see you."
We entered her clean tidy house and sat on furniture from earlier, better times.
I was there to hear her story and to see how Chikumbuso could help her.
Magdalena was born in 1931. She was married with 9 children, her husband worked at Lusaka airport and life was okay for a while until the AIDS epidemic. Now Magadelena is a widow with four children and her only son is very ill.
She lives in Ngombe in the house of her deceased son and cares for three grandsons, or they care for her.
Today there is no food in her house. I ask her what she dreams about and she tells me she only dreams of dying. She wakes and asks God if today will be the day. Other than that she only thinks of food.
Beauty and I go and buy her an assortment of foods, soaps, and charcoal and take it to her where she dances in delight at the feast before her.
"Today I will not sleep! I will just eat and eat!" she tells me.
As we return to Chikumbuso, Beauty reminds me of just how many grandmothers there are in Ng'ombe all with the same dream. Please help us to reach out to these women.