Approximately two weeks ago we had a couple of teams visit. One was a group of 6th Formers from a school in the UK, and the other from our church. We only spent a bit of time with the school group as they were based in Kitwe and worked solely with one school there. They were working together with the Zambian teachers in the classrooms, helping with the feeding programme (including doing the shopping each morning), did home visits and some practical work at the school as well.
The team from our church was based here in Ndola so we got to see lots of them; which was brilliant. They also brought us treats of chocolate and some extra things that didn’t quite fit into our luggage. It was so great to have them here. We miss our fantastic church in the UK, so it was great to have them here and feel that bit closer to everyone there.
Yesterday another team arrived from the UK. They are here to interview the children at Janna, Greater Joy and Beautiful Gate schools for the child sponsorship programme. Each year we get up to date information about all the children at the school. We sit down with each child and their carer and find out how home life is going, how the health of the child is, what they are enjoying about school, we measure and weigh them and take an up to date photo. It’s quite an operation doing this for over 900 children. Thankfully one school is done so we only have to do three schools next week.
We try to not be overwhelmed at the task and therefore rush the kids through. We endeavour to treat each child and family with honour by giving them time to share about how things have been in the last year. Admittedly some of the stories are really hard to hear/see… children who are HIV positive, countless children who’s parents who have died or up and left their children, carers who can’t even spell their own names…. Our hearts break for these children and families.
We pray and work towards restoration for the lives of children and families here, but sometimes it feels like we don’t see many advances… It’s easy to only see the needs and the work that is still to be done. The first morning the team from our church was here, we sat down and just chatted about how Beyond Ourselves started and how each of us, who are part of the team here, got here. A couple of people on the team are new to our church so hadn’t much about Beyond Ourselves in the past. Even though we know the stories, it was such a good reminder to hear about how far we’ve come, to see the advances, and the victories…
Every school day over 900 children wake up, put on their school uniform and go to school. Every school day over 40 people get up and go to work as teachers, cooks and security guards and earn a wage. Every school day each one of these children gets a free school meal and all have access to medical care.
Tomorrow we will interview approximately 350 children at Janna School. We will encounter 350 families’ stories, many of which will break our hearts, but overall there is a story of hope in these communities. Despite so much adversity we are working and praying towards a brighter future.