So much has happen since my last blog post. Much of it good, but some not so good. Through it all we are so thankful that Angela and Emma are here to help. I know that they have had highs and lows, that they sometimes feel overwhelmed and overcome, but they are such incredible young women and are contributing so much!
Emma contacted us back in April to find out if she could come and volunteer. She was a good friend of Richard’s. Richard is the young man who the school is named after. You can read about him by clicking the link on the Home page. Emma and Angela have been invaluable to us these past few weeks. So much has been happening at the school, I’m not sure how things would be going if they weren’t there helping right now.
When we arrived back in Lusaka we found out that 2 of our teachers had quit. Newlyn, so that she could begin college, taking Finance, and Rebecca, who had started a nursing program. While it was hard to lose them, we are happy for them and know that a large part of the reason that they could go back to school is because they have had jobs at the school and could save money to follow their dreams. By the time we returned, Mary had already hired two young men, John and Vincent, to take their place. It has been quite a transition, but we are all working through it. Angela and Emma have been helping them to adjust their teaching to a more American style and away from the Zambian model that they are accustomed to. It seems to me, that Zambian schools work for some, but not for most. Vincent and John seem to be adapting and are accepting help from the girls. It is a constant challenge to make sure that things are being done in the manner that Ken and I know are best because we can’t be there during school hours as we are at our full time teaching jobs at American International School of Lusaka.
We have started our Sponsor an Orphan program. It has been a mix of happiness, satisfaction, disappointment and extreme sadness. When an orphan is initially sponsored we take them shopping for clothes, shoes and food for them and their caregivers. Our first experience with this was wonderful. We all had a great time and the caregivers seemed very grateful. Upon our return to Zambia, we found out that one of the ‘orphans’ and her family lied about her being an orphan. This was the first big disappointment. We felt terrible. We felt that we had been taken advantage of and in turn had let down the sponsor. I’m not sure what to do about the possibility of this happening. For the most part we feel that we should take the people at their word. I still believe that most people would not stoop to this level. We found out because neighbors of the family saw us at the young girl’s house with the food and clothes, they did not want us to be taken advantage of so they went to Mary.
On the other hand, the boy who was sponsored at the same time and by the same person is still in the program. He is happy and doing well. His step father was very gracious and appreciative.
We will be taking 3 of our sponsored boys shopping this weekend.
There is also a very sad story about one of our sponsored orphans. We have been entrenched in her situation for the past couple of days and it is taking its emotional toll. Last Wednesday, we took 4 sponsored girls shopping and delivered the food to their caregivers. On Monday morning, one of our students told Mary that Dainess, (one of the orphans who went shopping) was “chased” from her house by the grandmother. Chased is the term Zambians use for ‘kicked out.’ The grandmother dumped the 10 kg bag of Mealie Meal that we bought for the family and took the rest of the food. Dainess (pronounced Di-ness)who is 11 years old, was on the streets of Bauleni Friday night. She was found Saturday morning sleeping in a small fruit stand outside. When the woman who owns the stand came to open, she found Dainess sleeping there. She took her in and cared for her until we found out on Monday. We spent Monday afternoon at the Bauleni police station trying to get permission for Mary to care for the child. Mary could not take her without a letter from the police because there was the fear that the grandma would claim that Mary stole her. The police gave us a letter so Dainess could stay with her until other family could be contacted. The grandmother and step grandfather showed up at Mary’s house last night, drunk and demanding to take Dainess. Mary’s daughter Newlyn answered the door, they did not get her. Yesterday (Tuesday) we took Dainess to to the clinic for HIV testing, there is a chance she is positive because both parents have died and she is unusually small for for her age. The clinic refused to test, saying that we had to bring the grandmother and have her permission. Yes, the same grandmother who kicked her out, who stole her food and who regularly beats her! We have had children tested before without guardian consent, so I’m not sure what that was about. And then to today...... as the police directed, Mary got in touch with the other family members, this was a grandma and grandpa from the other side of the family. They do not live in or near Bauleni. Mary was asking for permission to care for Dainess so that she could stay in Bauleni and continue to attend school. I was worried about this because I knew that there was a chance that they would want to take Dainess. That is exactly what happened. Mary says that they were grateful, that they didn’t know how Dainess had been being treated and that they wanted her to live with them. I understand that relatives are generally the best placement, but I am brought to tears just thinking about this. I know how much Dainess loved school, I know that she was nourished, both heart, soul and stomach, each day at our school and know that Mary would take very good care of her. I also know that she did not want to leave. This is not to say that she won’t be taken care of and loved by these grandparents.... but there are certainly no guarantees.
It is so hard to watch the day to day suffering of these children. We love them, we develop relationships with them, but in some ways, sometimes, we are powerless to help them.
We will continue to do everything we can for them all.
Thank you for taking the time to read this very long post.....
ove from Africa
Summer ( Winter in Zambia) has flown by and there is so much to update and so much to do! RHO Appleseed was closed for Winter break during the month of July and part of August. Ken and I returned to our hometown of Davis, California for 4 weeks and had a wonderful time visiting friends and family. We also held our first ever fundraising event. It was very successful, raising about $5000! We have also started our Sponsor an Orphan program. So far, there are 7 lucky children who have been sponsored!
We’ve been back in Lusaka for 1 week and have hit the ground running. We are very fortunate to have 2 UC Davis students, Emma and Angela, with us. They are here to volunteer at Appleseed and will begin at the school on Monday morning. While the jet lag from the extremely long flight is still affecting us all, we have been busy! On Wednesday, we made a wheelchair delivery to a woman who could barely stand up. She was very grateful and was able to push herself in the chair right away. It was the first visit to the compound for Emma and Angela. They were incredible with the children who naturally gathered them. We feel so fortunate to have them here with us!
Upon arriving back in Lusaka, we found out that we have lost 2 of our teachers. Newlyn, our former math teacher has begun accounting school. We are so happy for her. Newlyn will continue to volunteer at the school when she is not attending classes. Our reading teacher, Rebecca, has begun nursing school. We are so happy for both of these young women! Mary spent much time in July interviewing prospective teachers for these 2 positions. We are very happy to have John and Vincent join us at Appleseed. On Friday, we held a teacher meeting and John and Vincent our ready to begin teaching this Monday. While I know that the students will miss Newlyn and Rebecca, I think it will be very good to have these male role models in our school.
Today (Saturday) we went to the local shopping market, Kamwala, to buy more school desks. Unfortunately, the store was out of stock on the desks. So, instead we bought a few more tables and chairs for the Early Childhood Development classroom and 2 carpets for our library. Tomorrow (Sunday) we are all very excited because we get to attend our very first Zambian wedding. Farai, who runs St. John in the Matero compound is getting married. This is a new and exciting cultural experience for us.
Ken and I started back to work full time at the American School last Monday so we have been extremely busy. There is so much to do at RHO Appleseed, it could be a full time job for us both. We love the work that we get to do in Bauleni, and with the new sponsor and orphan program. With everything that needs to be done, I sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed. But, when I see our beautiful students and the people of Bauleni, I know that it is well worth our efforts and even though things don’t always happen as rapidly as I would like, I know that we are always moving forward and improving the lives of many children and adults in Bauleni.
Ken and Joy Hoffman. See the'Who We Are' page.