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
Ken and Joy Hoffman. See the'Who We Are' page.