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