It seems that things are always changing. It is a constant challenge to make sure we are moving forward. Two months ago, a new teacher started at Appleseed. We thought she would be a wonderful addition to the staff. She was a Zambian trained teacher, which we felt we needed. We had hired her to teach Literacy and be a coach and lesson planner for our other teachers. Well.... the best laid plans do not always work out the way you hope they will. While Agnes was a good teacher, it was difficult for her acclimate and fit in to this new environment. She was initially planning to move closer to Bauleni, but when she decided not to make that move, she had a hard time getting to work. At just about the time we were deciding what to do, as we did not want to put her out of work but we also needed to be able to rely on teachers to be there, Agnes decided to quit. She called one day, and said that she could no longer work at Appleseed. This was a bit of a load off of my mind; however, it left us with a critical position to fill. Mary set out once again to find a teacher. She hired a young man named Vincent. Now we have 2 Vincents working at the school. We have seen him with the children, and he seems like he will be a good addition ... but as with everything time will tell.
The music and sports programs are going very well. We have two men from the Zambian Vocal Collection, a famous Zambian singing group, come to our school every Wednesday and Friday, to teach choir lessons. We are working towards the students performing for a holiday fundraiser at the beginning of December. We purchased three Zambian drums for the school as well. The children love to sing and it is so nice to hear the beautiful music coming from the building! In addition, two very good soccer coaches come out and train our kids in soccer 2 days per week. They are excellent coaches who played professional soccer in South Africa! Right now we are playing for the pure fun of the game and to get some exercise, but we would eventually love to have an actual team. The kids are pretty good players!
There are some exciting changes happening with the school building this week. The land lady is having ceiling boards put in and she is having the inside of the school walls plastered so it does not just look like cinder block walls. We have closed the school for three days so that the work can be done. We should also have electricity hooked up this week. We are very happy about this work, but also a bit concerned that she may raise the rent!
We were able to visit another community school today. It is always nice to see what others are doing. It reminds us that we have a very nice place, with very kind and loving teachers, and that we all do the best that we can for these beautiful children.
We still have hopes of purchasing land and building a school. We feel that this will be the key to sustainability. We continue our fundraising efforts with this goal in mind. But, in the meantime, we are very grateful for what we do have and for what we are able to provide for children of the Bauleni Housing Compound.
Note: We had a request from Altrusa San Diego, which is part of an international non-profit foundation, for more information about our mission here in Zambia. They have donated books to our school, and they are considering further support. We welcome these requests as it is our goal to have absolute transparency. The questions in bold are theirs. We thought they were such valid questions that we decided to post the q & a here. Due to a request for anonymity I have erased some names and organizations.
1) How is the school is currently funded?
From the period of November 2011 to the end of July 2012 we spent approximately $11,400 operating the school. This does not represent a full accounting as things like gas, and minor daily expenses were not figured into this. However, it does represent the major expenditures. The majority (about 70%) went for our three major ongoing expenses: rent, salaries and the food program. The rest was used for start-up costs mainly associated with capitol improvements to the property we rent. Things like a fence, latrine, doors, furniture etc. along with the associated labor costs. I have a fairly comprehensive list of these expenditures available.
By the end of July, prior to our fundraiser, we had received just shy of $10,000 in donations from individuals both from here in Zambia and from the United States. Just to drop a couple of names: Barun Chandra and Kanni Wignaraja made a personal donation of $3,000. Kanni is the head of the United Nations mission in Zambia. Also, (name withheld) and (name withheld) committed to $300 per month for one year starting in July. (Name) is the head of (a major worldwide organization) in Zambia. I only mention these people because not only did the funds help, but it was incredibly validating to receive support from these people who work for organizations committed to helping here in Zambia. Joy and I and Jim have also contributed to this project to make up the difference between expenditures and funds raised.
At our fundraiser in Davis, CA and the immediate weeks following we received a little over $5,000 in donations. We also started a sponsorship program for the orphans who attend our school. To date we have 13 orphans sponsored at a commitment of $25 per month.
2) What sort of status does the school have within Zambia? In other words, is there some sort of accreditation process?
We are a public benefit corporation limited by liability as defined by the Zambian Government. This was the first and most important step to legally operating the school. The title "NGO" seems to be an unofficial designation. What defines an NGO is when you receive tax-exempt status to import goods into the country. This is a drawn out process and we have suspended our pursuit of this designation as we do not have the need for this status at this time. A public benefit corporation is defined as a company that offers goods and/or service at a free or subsidized rate. Our official title is "RHO Appleseed School Limited."
We are still investigating how we want to be designated by the Ministry of Education. This pursuit has been quite an adventure in itself. For a few reasons we are slowing this pursuit down because we have learned that once designated it is hard, if not impossible, to change the designation. This could have serious ramifications on our goal of long-term sustainability, so we want to get it right. We have been to the Ministry of Education and the Division of Education Board Secretary (DEBS). There are two classifications that could fit for us: Community School or Private School. The Community School program was born out of the unfulfilled need to provide access to schooling for the many who had none. Communities could start their own schools based on volunteerism and ... well little else. Upon finally making it to DEBS last year during business hours (which fluctuate especially toward the end of the day) we were told that due to funding cuts the office for Community Schools had been closed. We were given some literature and told they had to do a site visit which we scheduled for the middle of December. They never came. A friend who runs an NGO told us we would have to actually give the person responsible a ride to the school if we really wanted this inspection to take place. (Just a side note: Just to open a business account the bank required a site visit. This happened only after we gave the person a ride to our school and back to the bank.) In the interim we learned that once designated a Community School it is not possible to change that designation so we have decided to investigate our options further before pursuing any official designation. Because we have legal status as a public benefit corporation we are able to operate the school legally in the interim. Because of our goal of sustainability, at this point we believe our best bet is to pursue designation as a private school. This would mean having to pay employees (something we already do), but it would mean we could charge fees and then offer scholarships to our needy students. We just want to exercise patience and make sure we do it right.
3) Altrusa San Diego was also curious about how long that you thought you might stay in Zambia. They know that this contractual set of decisions could change. But what would be your current prediction? What do you envision the transition to look like when you do leave?
Joy and I intend to stay in Zambia at least three more years for a total of four years. We will hopefully have this settled in the next month or two when we intend to sign two year contracts to extend our employment at the American School to four years. We also intend to pursue the possibility of staying in Zambia beyond that time by applying to the Lumwana (?) School. This is a kind of satellite school of AISL in the northern part of the country. Jim knows much more about this than we do. It is a small school with limited employment opportunities, but if it is presented, we intend to pursue that opportunity. So, we are committed to staying at least four years and are looking at opportunities to extend our stay beyond that.
As far as what we envision the transition to look like when we leave I will say this. We are doing this with one singular goal. We want to visit this school (and maybe others) ten to fifteen years from now after we have retired. We love doing what we are doing here, but we do not intend to spend four years working on this without a plan for sustainability. This is admittedly a work in progress, but we have numerous ideas for sustainability: 1) Receive official 501 (c) (3) status in the US 2) Establish a school fee structure that will allow for self-sustainability 3) Purchase land and build a purpose-built facility that will be paid for before we leave and 4) Most importantly, oversee the transition prior to leaving Zambia. I believe that our last year here should be a "hands-off" time where we let the school run itself with as little intervention as possible. Just like any venture, there will be potholes on this road, so it is our goal to be here during the transition to ensure those do not turn in to sink holes. To this end we see our "transition" taking place during our last year here (2014-2015).
Please feel free to follow-up with any ideas, advice, and requests for information etc. Our fuel has been the extraordinary kindness, interest and generosity of so many people. We appreciate and welcome the opportunity to share our vision with others.
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.
As the school year ends at the American International School, RHO Appleseed is in the middle of the year and things continue to come together and grow. The Zambian school calendar runs from January to December, with a few breaks in between. RHO Appleseed will close for winter break for the month of July and will reopen on August 14th. When we are home in Davis, CA we will hold a fundraiser on July 12th. We plan to come back to Lusaka ready to put new programs in place at the school. Last week a wonderful vocal group, Zambian Vocal Collection, visited the school and ran a workshop and performed for the students. It was truly amazing and the kids just loved it! We have arranged for them to run a music program for us; they are excited to start an RHO Appleseed Choir and then start with instrument lessons! We will be raising funds in order to make this happen. In addition, we have arranged for a sports program to begin in August as well. Coach K, a former professional soccer player in South Africa has agreed to run the program. This is another program that we will be raising funds to support. Once these are in place the student school day will run from 8:00am to 3:00pm. They currently go from 8:00am until 1:00pm.
Of the approximately 100 students at RHO Appleseed School, at least 30 of them are orphans. We are launching a "Support an Orphan" program. We are looking for a sponsor for each of these children at $25.00 per month. These funds will go directly to that child's education, health and general well being. Sponsors will be kept updated regularly on the child's academic and general progress.
We are still hoping to purchase our own land and build a school at some point, but in the mean time, things have been working out at this site. We have just had a stage/patio built in the front yard, it looks beautiful!. Also, a parent from my grade 4 class at AISL and his company just hung all of our chalk boards, white boards and bulletin boards for us. They also built a bridge over the ditch to get to the school. The city is putting in drainage ditches in the compound and we have had a small plank going across it to get to the building. Now we have a wooden bridge with railings!! Thank you Julio Cerqueira and Group Five Zambia!
There has been so much more happening at the school.... too much to go into detail right now, but I will update again soon. Briefly though, we have started a Home Health Care program for the Bauleni Community out of the school. (See the St John Bauleni Branch page) We have been able to help a lot of very sick people through this effort. It has been a very worthwhile, yet emotional experience. There are many very ill people with no medical help at all. We are doing what we can, although, sometimes it is too late. Since beginning, we have seen two patients pass away. While this makes us very sad, we know that we were able to bring them some comfort and love in their last days.
That is about all for now..... please continue to check back to learn of all of the exciting things in the works for RHO Appleseed School!
~ Love from Africa,
Joy and Ken
We have been very excited about the happenings at RHO Appleseed School this month. We have had 6 fifth grade students from American International School, visit and interview us and Mary as part of a big fifth grade project called Exhibition. Two boys are doing their exhibition project on Hunger and Nutrition and three others are doing theirs on Daily Life of Impoverished People of Lusaka. As part of their research they came to RHO Appleseed to see the lives of the kids in their school environment. They played with the students and helped to make and serve their lunch. Mary allowed them to come to her house and see how she lives. She was so gracious. She answered all of their questions, including personal ones, such as, “How do you bathe?” and “Can we take pictures of your bedroom?” Mary’s heart continues to amaze me! The boys learned so much from her and from playing with our Appleseed students. Pictures of these visits will be posted soon.
In addition, 2 more 5th grade boys visited the school to give a lesson to our students. Their Exhibition Project is on The Rights of Pets. Although, most of our students do not have pets, they still learned a lot about how to treat animals. Many Zambians are very afraid of dogs and dogs are often mistreated here. One students brought his dog, Mona. The Appleseed students got to pet and walk Mona. It was a wonderful experience for everyone! Thank you so much to all of these AISL Grade 5 students.
We also had 2 amazing donations, which I have written about on the Home Page. The AISL Grade 2 classes and their teachers had a bake sale to raise money for UNICEF’s School in a Box program. They donated their left over money, about $100, to RHO Appleseed School. I visited the class rooms to thank them. These are a wonderful group of 2nd graders! In addition, the teacher Ms. Tima Nesbit, talked to the people at UNICEF and they agreed to give the School in a Box that they bought to our school!! This was wonderful news! We will get the box sometime after Spring Break. UNICEF will deliver it to the AISL 2nd graders and they will then take a field trip to RHO Appleseed to deliver it! You can find out more about UNICEF’s School in a Box program by visiting their website. It is a box full of school supplies for 40 students! We are so excited to receive such a generous gift.
Also mentioned on the home page is a wonderful donation from Andy and Bridget Roberts of Eastlands Country Estates, in Lusaka. Andy and Bridget have donated K500,000 (about $100) in Pick and Pay vouchers each month for a year! This is about 1/4 of our food budget. We are so grateful to them for this donation.
This week we instituted a new curricular structure for the school. Rather than have our three teachers, teaching individual classes, we decided to try subject matter classes. So far, it has worked out wonderfully. Both the teachers and students seem to like it a lot. We have a reading/writing class, a math class and an elective class. This week the ‘elective’ class focused on science. There is a 45 minute session, then recess, then another 45 minute session, another recess, and then the last 45 session and then lunch. It has been a lot of fun seeing this new system work and being there to institute it. Ken and I will spend next week there each day as well. Then I am confident that it will continue to run smoothly once we are back to work at AISL. This has been a wonderful way to spend our Spring Break.
Other big news for the school is that we are looking for a new school site. We have had some difficulties with the owners of the building that we are currently renting. We have realized that we need to find a way to own the building that we are in. Therefore, we have begun looking at property to purchase in the Bauleni Compound. There are a few sites that seem ideal. We want to buy land so that we can build the school to suit our needs, rather than adapt an existing building. To this end, we will soon begin intensive fundraising efforts! We have paid the rent on the current building through June, and hope to be able to purchase land by then. It is daunting, yet exciting!
We look forward to continued success and growth RHO Appleseed School!
It has been a while since I have updated the Blog. It’s been a busy time for us at RHO Appleseed School. In December, we had a fun Christmas Party! We sang songs, read stories and passed out paper Christmas Stockings with treats in them to each student. Fun was had by all. The next day, Ken and I flew to New York, met our daughters there and spent the Christmas week in NYC. We all had a great time! We then flew home to California together and had another 2 weeks to visit with friends and family.
The Appleseed teachers and director, Mary, reopened the school the week before we returned and did an excellent job of keeping things running. We have had a new teacher, Rebecca, join us recently. She began with the littlest children, but has now moved to working with the older kids because Newlyn has ‘shifted’ (moved.) She is still there occasionally, but not everyday.
Ken and I recently visited a government school called Prince Takamoto Basic which serves students in grades 1-9. We wanted to see what is being taught and how the public schools are run. We visited three classes in session and they had between 55-85 students in each class. These were a 5th, 8th and 9th grade class and there were three students to a desk. The desks were small benches with a table connected on a metal frame. We also noticed that the academic levels are much lower than what we expect and plan for our RHO students. Part of our motivation to visit other schools was that we began assessing our students and we were a bit alarmed to discover that what our teachers called “5th” grade was not even close to our expectations. The students could barely read at what we consider a 1st grade level. We began working with the students after school and began more closely instructing our teachers on our expectations. After visiting the public school it was understandable why our teachers classified our students as 5th grade. Even the 8th graders at Takamoto could barely read according to their teacher. We understand the problem ... neither of us would want to teach that many children at once with nothing but a chalk board and chalk. These children also receive no food while at school, unless they bring some from home. We expect to do much better by our students, and we will continue to train our teachers in the ‘best practices’ that we know to be effective.
Ken’s Global Issues group from AISL continue to visit the school once every 6 weeks. This coming Friday, they will be bringing games that they have made from recycled materials (mainly cereal boxes) and teaching the students how to play them. I’m sure our Appleseed kids will love it. Classics like “Snakes and Ladders” and “Bingo” along with some sets of flashcards. In addition, the 4th graders at AISL had the opportunity to visit Appleseed. As 3rd graders, they participated in a Pen-Pal project through an organization called Project Knapsack (www.projectknapsack.org) They recently received knapsacks full of school supplies for their efforts. Last year, they decided that they would donate their knapsacks to a needy school and RHO Appleseed students were the lucky recipients. It was truly a great day. My 4th graders were initially very nervous, most of them had never seen such poverty. Even though the compounds are close and easily accessible many foreigners never venture into those areas. But, by the end of the day, they were sad to leave. Many of them said that they made a new friend and that they hope they get to see them again. It was emphasized that they should not feel sorry for the students but rather they should look at them as peers who just have not had the same opportunities as they have had. It was an eye-opening experience for them all!
Upon returning from the field trip, one of my Grade 4 parents, who went on the field-trip to Bauleni, told me that she was going to help get some support for the school. She has spoken to the management of a local grocery store chain, Pick and Pay, about possible donations of food! We are waiting to hear the results of her efforts, but it is so nice to have some folks here who want to be involved!
We have also been very fortunate to have met a new friend, Andre. He is a teacher from Seattle who is here for a year. His wife is a public health worker working for a non-profit dealing with infectious diseases. Andre has begun teaching art to our students on Thursdays! It is so exciting to be able to offer the kids more than the basics of Reading and Math. Andre has been wonderful and the kids love it when he is there.
More exciting news.... We have begun the process, thanks to our good friend Jim Anderson, of bringing St. John Ambulance (a volunteer organization) to Bauleni! They will have an office in our school. St. John trains local volunteers to be Home Health Care providers in the community. This is a service that is very much needed in Bauleni. They held an information night, and we have about 6 people from Bauleni who are willing to be trained as Home Care Providers. The training will take place at the beginning of March. We are currently having t-shirts made for them that will read “Saint John- Bauleni Branch” and “RHO Appleseed School.” We are very excited to join with St. John in providing their services to Bauleni.
And the last bit of news.... We will be moving to a new building in March!! When we found the building that we are currently in, we were very excited, but it has not been without a few difficulties. We will be moving right down the road to a better building. It will be a much more finished property and the landlord is willing to do all of the work necessary for us to move in. In addition, the prospect of water and electricity, sooner rather than later, look much more promising. We are excited about the move and we will keep you updated on the progress.
2012 Brings with it continued growth and challenges at RHO Appleseed School. The school was closed for the Summer Break (it is Summer here in Zambia, even though it rains almost daily) while Ken and I went back home to California. I worried every day about the students because I knew that many did not get much to eat during the school closure. We have begun feeding them 2 meals a day. They arrive at school, carrying their spoon from home, for their morning porridge. Then they have classes, and before leaving they have their lunch of vegetables and Nshima.
Before we left, Masau had begun plastering the outside of the building. When we returned it was plastered and painted and looks fantastic! The next step for the outside of the building is to have the name of the school and mission statement painted on the front. Upon the reopening, Mary had a number of new children with their parents or guardians, as most of them were orphans, waiting to enroll. The word about the school is spreading in the Bauleni Compound and we now hear "Joy, Ken" rather than "Mazungu, Mazungu" as we drive through. We receive smiles and thumbs up, on a regular basis, it is heart warming.
Because we have had difficulty funding the food program, Mary instituted a small fee structure. Only those who are able to pay, do so. No one is turned away. We have about 45 very young children, our Early Childhood Education. The fee for them is 20,000 Kwatcha per month ($5) Parents who are able, are happy to pay this because they know how little it is and their little children are no longer wandering the streets of the compound all day, everyday, and, they are eating much more than they were before. The older students are asked to pay 5 Kwatcha per month. Not everyone could pay, in fact, most could not. But, with the money that Mary collected, she was able to buy food for the week that the school was open, before Ken and I returned. Nourishment is the constant struggle. Everything in Lusaka is much more expensive than it should be, it seems to me.
We are trying to ascertain non-profit status (501c3) in the United States so that we can seek grants and get help from aid organizations here, such as USAID. However, it seems that there is so much entailed, we have not yet been able to get through those muddy waters. I think we need an attorney to help with this, but, the attorney cost, and when we do get donations we need to spend it on the everyday functioning of the school; rent, food and salaries.) There is always more to do. Sometimes I am shocked when I see how far we have come in such a short time, other times, overwhelmed by how much more needs to be done. When we moved here, we thought maybe we would do something like this after the 1st year, but, these children weren't eating or getting any sort of education right now. It couldn't wait until we were more prepared, so we did and continue to do what we can, now. I can't thank our friends and family back home who have so generously helped. It absolutely could not be happening without you!
A few parents and guardians gather for a parent informational meeting.
There are lots of exciting things in the works for RHO Appleseed students! We received notification that the knapsacks earned by the students of American International School, through a California based organization called Project Knapsack, will go to our Appleseed students!! The AISL students happen to be my current 4th graders, so it works out perfectly. In January, the AISL 4th graders and the 11th and 12th graders who have signed up for our "Bauleni Relief" Global Issues Project will deliver the knapsacks. I can't wait to deliver them and see all of the happy and surprised faces!!
The camera date reset itself.... this picture was actually taken November 2011
MORE GOOD NEWS!
Appleseed students will perform in the Esparto Community Holiday Hoopla Talent Show!!! Our students are busy practicing songs, dances and a skit to be shown at the show! The kids are overjoyed knowing that people in the USA will be watching them. They have been practicing and will show their acts to the AISL Global Issues group tomorrow! I can't attend as I will be teaching, but Ken will take pictures and video. They will be wearing traditional chitangas outfits, because as they told their teachers, they want to look 'smart.'
Ken and Joy Hoffman. See the'Who We Are' page.