Junior Augustus Mfungo first contacted the Zambia’s Scholarship fund in 2005. He wrote a letter to the president asking for help to go to high school. He was sent a routine reply, the same on that is sent to all students who write and ask for help. In this reply it states no money is ever given directly to a student they must work through a school. He took it upon himself to find a high school near his village and had that high school write a letter to us requesting we find sponsor for him. For a few years he was the only one at his high school sponsored by the ZSF. His sponsor Phyllis Hansen sponsored him through out his high school years and told him she would sponsor him if he wanted to become a teacher. When he graduated he walked to one of the teachers colleges on our list and told them he had a sponsor in America who would pay for his college fees. They immediately wrote to us and Augustus joined our program at Mansa Teachers College. Last year when we visited Augustus we had a package to deliver to him from his sponsor. Phyllis had sent him some sunglasses among other needed items because he had explained to her that because he was albino his eyes were being damaged by the sun. Here he is the proud owner of a new pair of sun glasses. As we visited with Augustus he told us the sad news that he was now almost blind. He asked Phyllis if she could send him a manual typewriter so that he could write. Of course there is no electricity for anything else in the villages. It turns out that manual typewriters are a rare as horse buggy’s now, but after a difficult search Phyllis found him one. Augustus is going to make a fantastic teacher. His life experiences are motivation enough to all his students. He is a typical example of our students who never give up even when life has dealt you unfair cards.
Life in Zambia
Much of Zambia is the same as it was a thousand of years ago.Woman still work with babies slung on their backs or carry enormous loads of firewood on their heads swathed in their traditional fabrics. Boys still carry water from the stream and men still toil in the hot & sunny fields.The most visible difference is that they now wear hand-me-down American clothes with slogans on them that they usually don’t get.Zambians, living in the areas we serve, live mostly as subsistence farmers growing just enough food for their own families to survive. Almost no one has a job that pays them money. They work as farmers growing food. They live in mud brick, thatched roof huts. They have small plots of land where they grow corn, beans, and cassava. They use hand hoes to till the ground, plant seeds by hand and pray for proper rains. Without irrigation they must depend on nature to provide, much like our frontier ancestors did. They must carry water from streams, springs or a village wells. Most Zambians must drink water that is not clean.Their homes often look like they are on fire because they cook on fires inside the huts and the smoke rises through the thatched roof.Zambia has a wet season where it rains almost constantly (making life muddy and difficult) and a dry season where it doesn’t rain at all. They can grow one crop of food from the rainfall, but the harvest has to last them through the whole dry season. That is why the dry season is often called the hungry season.Girls wash pans in the stream using sand to grind off the baked on carbon from the fires.The most common food is called nshima which is like what we would call polenta. The woman cook this from mashed cassava roots, or corn meal they ground with stones.Most sleep on the dirt floor of their homes. Some have mattresses. When dark comes they just go to bed. They have no light bulbs and candles are expensive.In spite of the rugged, tedious life of never ending work, the people are smiling and singing and children still find ways to have fun.