Zambia’s Scholarship fund May 2017 newsletterReport on March 2017 trip as told by Peggy Rogers
I have just returned from a three week trip to Zambia, where I met with students and teachers on the Zambia’s Scholarship program. I am happy to give you this report of my trip.
This year I traveled with three ladies, Yuliya Love Lynch, Sandy Jensen and Karen Haslem. The highlight of my trip was meeting all 45 teachers on our Adopt-a-School program. In the past, we would try to visit as many of the adopted elementary schools as possible but because they are so remote and the roads are so bad, we were only able to visit maybe ten or twelve each trip. This year I had a great idea. I figured out how to meet all 45 of the teachers at once. The way we pay the teachers is to have them walk to the district office every month to pick up their salary. Some schools are so remote that the teacher may come in every two or three months. This year we sent a message out to the teachers that they could pick up payment when they met us at the Kasama Girl’s High School Library in March.
Wow, talk about motivation. I am told many of them were worried because they thought we were going to take their job away or discontinue the program. Bless their hearts, not only did we make them worry needlessly, but we were two days late arriving (due to missing a connection in Dubai) and they had to sleep in the street waiting for us and use up part of their tiny salary purchasing something to eat.
Finally, on Wednesday morning, March 15th, I had one of the best experiences of my life. As the men moved heavy, old bookshelves to the sides, they made room for 45 chairs in the middle of the tiny library. In flowed 45 teachers dressed in their best. Each shyly looked our way. Each distressed face quickly turned from downtrodden to radiant as they caught our smiles. What made it all the more beautiful was that I knew what these meek people go through every day. Teaching hundreds of children, all ages, in a classroom with no roof, no running water, no electricity, no food, maybe a chalkboard, maybe not. Sleeping in a hut the village people build for them, full of ants and spiders and who knows what else. If a teacher is fortunate enough to have a job paid by the government, they will be paid 4,ooo kwatcha a month. We pay these volunteer teachers only 1,ooo a month.
This was the teachers' first time to meet the other teachers on the program. Each teacher stood up to say their names, what school they teach at and how long they had been on the program. The ones who had taught five years or more were looked up to and even revered. There was a feeling in that room of camaraderie that I can’t describe. As they looked around, they saw so many others in their same position. Each one a teacher just like them and each one enduring the same conditions and sticking it out just like them. For the first time in a long time, or maybe in their lifetimes, they felt a part of something big. Something so worthwhile, that as I talked about doing it for the kids and not for the money, they felt it. When we talked about how we were behind them, they felt it. We told them how much we appreciated and admired them. We helped them believed they were the future of their country. Pride in what they were doing began to build. Each of us took a turn and told them they are our heros. It gave them a new strength to go out and face their daily battles. They know there are people in America praying for them, who are behind them, and who believe in them. When we had finished, they couldn’t wait to take their picture with us and shake our hands. They couldn’t wait to write to each of you.
I hate to make us sound so important, but to them we were. It was the first time in their lives that four people from America had come to Zambia to meet just them.Report on trip as given by Sandy Jensen
We were scheduled to arrive in Kasama on March 13th, but due to a plane delay in Dubai we arrived two days later. On the morning of March 15th, we met at the Kasama Girls high school with all 45 of the elementary school teachers on our ‘Adopt a School Program’. We were told that they had walked from their village schools (many miles away, some of them even days away) and because we were late by two days, they had slept in the streets waiting for us. That was the beginning of my awareness of how difficult things are in Zambia.
Next, we met with our past and present micro-fund recipients who had also walked great distances just to meet us. But the hardest experience of the day was when we visited the Cheleshe Chepela School for the handicapped. We were supposed to join the students for lunch at noon (the only meal they eat each day). But because we were late, they hurried us into a big room where a dozen old tables lined the outside walls. At the front of the room stood six old chairs, some made of metal and some of wood. We were rushed to the seats like some kind of celebrities while the children waited outside for the signal to come in. I will never forget looking out those glassless windows and seeing all those hungry faces staring in, each holding their own odd bowl. After we sat down, the students quickly filed in and filled up their bowls with a mush they call enshema. It looks like Malt-O meal, only thicker. Then the students stood at the sides of the old tables, many of the children had only half of their legs with the stubs stuck into large men’s shoes. Many were blind; many had half an arm and so on. They hurriedly tried to get the mush from their bowls to their faces without spilling it. It was so obvious that they needed benches that I wanted to cry.
When they finished, they put on a little program for us. The administrator thanked them and thanked us. It came as no surprise when the Finance Director asked if we could help with some of the school needs. Benches were at the top of his list. Peggy must have known what I was thinking because she turned to me and said, “Before you say you will pay for the benches, remember this is our first day. Every school we will visit has needs."
At the Kasama Girls High School, we met the girls on our program and took their pictures. During this time, a young gentleman was waiting patiently under a tree. When we had finished all our work and were getting into the van, he approached us and handed us a letter from the head teacher at one of our village schools. The letter said this young man had been a volunteer teacher at his school for three years, even though he had never been paid. The author of the letter highly recommended him, and pleaded with us to add him to our program. I immediately said, “Peggy, I will sponsor a school for him.” He was so grateful. He got down on his knees to thank us!
Every day I saw things and conditions that I had never dreamed could be. The boarding schools had no mattresses; the students were sleeping on metal crates and wooden planks. There was no indoor plumbing, so they had outhouses or sometimes not even outhouses, just bushes. Imagine a school where 1800 students use the bushes as toilets. It was the same at every school. The students were required to bring their own bowls to eat from, and when they had finished, they would rinse them out in either a stream or at the cold well water.
Each student and teacher were dressed in neat, clean clothes, cleaner and nicer than many of us dress here in the states. The schools themselves are very old and there simply isn’t money to fix anything. I am amazed at what they could do with so little and how grateful they were to us. They just couldn’t stop thanking us. I was so happy to be a part of something so good.
On about the sixth day we drove on the worst dirt road I have ever seen. The holes were so deep, the twists so sharp, the washouts so eroded, that what was left was barely enough to drive on. Many of the holes were filled with water. The water was so deep I wondered if we could make it through, and if we couldn’t, we had to try to go around a tree. It took us half the day just to arrive at our school, passing small grass huts all along the way with children running out, waving and smiling as our vehicle passed by. Finally we arrived at a clearing that held school buildings placed in a kind of a square with the office in the middle and the classrooms around the edges. There were no windows on the window frames and no electricity. The school had been chosen because one of our ‘Adopt a School’ teachers taught nearby. This was the seconday school. Education is free to the seventh grade, but after that they have to pay for their schooling. We were told that the village children walk to school each Sunday or Monday, carrying their own week’s worth of food with them. Then they walk back to their homes each Friday. They carry enshema powder and coals to boil water, and a pan to cook with; they prepare their own meals, as meals are not provided by the school. The school fees are just two hundred kwatcha per year (that’s only twenty US dollars). But many cannot attend due to lack of money. I would like to see us help them attend.
The last story I want to share with you was at Kasama Boys' High School. When we introduced ourselves to the principal, he said, “I don’t want to sound ungrateful as we are so very grateful to you for helping our boys, but is there any way you could help a few more students?” We all looked at each other and began to smile because we had heard these exact words from each of the principals at each school. Then he explained, "For example, there is one of our tenth grade students who tested second highest in the whole school. His father had passed away and his mother moved to Lusaka because she has cancer. He came to school this year having walked from his village." This principal didn’t have the heart to turn him away, so he had found odd jobs for him, like sweeping and gardening. That’s when I couldn’t take it anymore. I turned to Peggy and said, “That’s only $25 a month, right?” Then I said I would sponsor him.
While they went to fetch the boy, we met with all the boys on our program. They told us their names, what grades they were in and how long they had been on the program. I was happy to meet many 12th graders who had been on the program since 8th grade. That’s hard to accomplish in these harsh conditions. One of the boys on our program had even died. When I finally met my student, he was shy (like all the other students) and couldn’t look at me in the face. I told him I was going to sponsor him and that I wanted him to write me a letter about himself. He sat down, and in the most elegant handwriting, wrote a two page letter. He was so humble and was holding back his tears as we had our picture taken together. I read his letter out loud in our vehicle on our way back to the guest house. There was not a dry eye between us. Tobias, our employee, called it ‘Divine Intervention.’ I never really gave sponsoring much thought. I knew it was a good thing, but it was not until I visited and saw for myself that I finally caught the big picture. When Peggy says we are their only future, it is true. If you haven’t contributed to ZSF in a few years, I urge you to start again!”
From Peggy: I share Sandy's story with you because I believe all of you would do the same thing Sandy did if you were in Zambia. Your heart would go out to these kids. These children need you more than you will ever know. I say a silent prayer to God at each school as I look at the faces of these kids, “Please God, help us to continue to help. Please find us more caring people. Please bless us to be able to keep going.”
Yuliya Love Lynch was the third volunteer on our trip. She was excited to meet the Micro-Fund recipients from 2015-16 and meet all our students which she did. And reports that our Micro-Fund program is running great. However what impacted her the most was when she visited an orphanage, which is becoming more common in Zambia now that the younger people don’t want to take on the responsibility of raising so many double orphaned babies.
This is her report. . . .Yuliya’s Plea
I want to share with you what touched my heart the most during my first trip to Zambia, but first an introduction.We visited a handicapped school and I saw that children do not have enough benches and desks. Some were very poorly dressed after school when not in uniform, and they only had meal time once a day. I was shocked. When you see these angels with disabilities lacking the basics, it feels unreal. These pupils were so happy, with an open heart that I cannot describe. Many children live in the school; many are disowned because of their disabilities.Another place that will be engraved in my memory forever is the boys' boarding school. At first it looked OK, or as adequate as one would expect. Just before we were ready to leave, we asked to see their dormitories. Here is when I almost lost it. Some do not have mattresses, or have very old ones. There are no closets. They sleep on bunk beds with old or missing mattresses. Others sleep on on metal trunks.The bathroom hasn't worked since the plumbing gave out. The smell... well, I will let you imagine it. But do you know what is most surprising? Those kids are happy and don't ask for anything. They laugh, and always wear a white shirt,classic black pants and a tie. They keep their uniforms very clean, even though they are nearly worn out.At some point I asked if we had time to visit an orphanage. I thought I was prepared because of what I had already seen, but I truly lost it at that place. The most precious angles have a 'house' of 6 bedrooms where 60 kids live. Yes, 60 children -- ages from 10 months and up. The living room has no roof and they cook on charcoal. They eat one (yes, please, think hard only one) meal a day and it's enshima, which is a corn powder of little nutrition. Their meal is at 5 pm once a day. Some children die of hunger. They have no government support – I went to the government office and confirmed this. It's run by a wonderful family, who could not turn the kids away. Multiple local journalist reports were written about these people. They live off donations, but don't have a solid sponsor foundation that provides support all the time.The children are as happy as hungry children can be. I saw the facilitators who clean the 'facility' and take care of the children. Kids want to be held. I could see that the children love the family who runs the orphanage. Only 4 adults are taking care of 60 kids. The plates in the kitchen were clean. The founders take care of the children and love them. They are just dirt poor."Do they have HIV?," you might ask. I wondered the same. I talked to government officials, journalists, the founders of the orphanage and they told me that HIV infected children are more the exception that the rule. Then why they are in an orphanage? It's common for mothers to die in childbirth. Relatives cannot or will not take them in, for many reasons, but HIV is not on top of the list.I cannot fly home and pretend that their struggle does not continue. I just cannot. I only started to write this post two days after the first visit. I could hardly eat or sleep, I cried ... a lot. I wish I could bring you all there so you can see.We have to raise the money to provide a second meal for these kids. The meal for all 60 kids is $20. Yep just $20. The goal is to raise $ for second meal for a year which is $7,300. We will be setting up a web page and different fundraisers. A question may be on your mind: how do you know that the money or food will not be stolen? Let me walk you through the plan:
- The employee of 10 years of ZSF will buy food for 2 weeks and drop it off to the orphanage every two weeks and check on the well-being of the children. He will also take pictures for us.
- He will provide receipts of purchased food.
- I trust this employee in Zambia.
- We will check on the children when we return to Zambia.Once we improve the food problem, we hope to build an orphanage / school building for them.We cannot let them stay there. We will either need to build or buy an existing house and modify it to work as a school in the day and a place to sleep at night. It will most likely be a new one as we need at least 8 rooms, one side for girls and the other for boys. The land most likely will be given to us by the chief of one of the tribes. We will have to figure out the legalities of it all. We will apply for grants as well. To give you an idea, the building will cost about $50,000. Not super expensive, I believe. We need people who are willing to work on this -- to raise money, work out details, dive into the paperwork, etc.These are real children who are starving right now. And we can stop it now. And yes, I know we can't help them all, but we can do what we can. We can help these 60. Contact me if you are willing to work with us in any capacity.If you have ideas or know someone who can help, please let me know. I am not sure exactly how this will all come together, but I am proceeding with faith. I have to try to help.Yuliya Love-Kryuchkova Lynch
ZSF Volunteer and Micro-Fund Specialist
Sandy & Yuliya set up a Go-fund-me account to raise money for a daily meal at this orphanage: https://www. gofundme.com/25x6u69w
What’s new for 2017
IN 2017, we will be developing a new website, one that will be more specific to our needs. Watch for details in our next newsletter. We have set goals to raise money for a new secondary school in the bush, raise money for a new orphanage/day school, and to raise money for benches for all the schools. Please contact Karen Haslem, the fourth volunteer in our March Zambia trip, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in helping to purchase benches. We really appreciate all of you! We couldn’t do this without you.
For credit card donations see our website www.zambiascholarshipfund.org
Send checks to:
PO Box 515 Brigham City Ut. 84302
For questions and concerns contact Peggy at email@example.com 435-279-8900