Back in Zambia

Well it's been a long time since we have blogged, and life has been crazy!

I arrived in Zambia a few days ago and have been checking in on our programs and kids and Zambian team. It has been great.

Yesterday I visited one of our partnering community schools where we have our child sponsorship program. Our American team had come in January and held a kids camp at the school and when I arrived I was attacked by kids hugging and asking me where everyone else was. They were definitely disappointed when I told them I was the only American to come!

Our child sponsorship program has grown since I was last here which has been a major blessing. Two of our staff members are at this school daily and help watch the kids, do Bible classes, help tutor, and feed them. They have done an amazing job at feeding them and watching the kids receive a great meal was really special. I can honestly say you see God's love for these kids. If you are a child sponsor we can't thank you enough.

We unloaded suitcases of childrens clothing I brought over because winter will be here in a few weeks in Zambia. A few of our bigger kids had not received any new clothing in a while because we didn't have their sizes or they were new to the sponsorship program. One child, Isaac, is new to our program and is one of our worse off. We got Isaac some clothes and visited his home after school.

Isaac lives with his father and his mother passed away about a year ago. They live in the local market where homes are made of tarps, cardboard, and a few wood posts. The homes are stacked on top of one another and you walk through a maze of people to get to where he lives. When we arrived Isaac's father was sitting outside his home of tarps making straw brooms, which he sells for about 20 cents each. There was a small fire going outside the home and we all sat on the dirt and began to chat. Isaac has a good father, who loves him and cares for his kids, the best he can. Our Zambian team had visited their home a few times and the father was beyond grateful for our help when we told him we would be covering Isaac's school fees for the term. Isaac's dad spoke English well and you could tell he was a strong man. He had a torn shirt on and thanked me for our help. Isaac had been to school with a dirty uniform the past few weeks so we had bought some soap for them. We also had bought a big bag of Mealie Meal, which is what they use to make their staple food Enshima. I joked with he father about how I have never met a Zambian who turned down Enshima. Isaac's brothers and sisters ran around as we all chatted and we drew a bit of a crowd with the white girl being in the middle of the slum. It is a rare occasion to see a white person in that area. As I sat and got to hang out I was so grateful that our team have cultivated these relationships with parents and kids that I get to come and be a tiny part of that too.

We also gave their family some clothes for the winter. I was lucky to bring over some great fleeces and coats that had been donated and Isaac also received a new pair of shoes, soccer cleats none the less but he LOVES them.

We were careful to bring clothes for his siblings.

As we handed over the clothes I couldn't help but notice the stark white t-shirts and the contrast of the dirty home and area they lived in. Although everyone has their homes as clean as possible, it is difficult when you have a dirt floor and barley any shelter. I was encouraged to know that Isaac will have a great fleece this winter that will keep him warm, because the "walls" of his home will offer little protection.

It is easy to get discouraged when you are in a place like the market visiting kids and people you love that live in plastic homes. But it also is extremely motivating and rewarding to offer aid and help and see the difference it makes in kids lives.

If you look at how Issac and his family were helped, it took a group of us. It took his American sponsor who monthly gives to support him, other Americans who donated kids clothes and shoes, and our Zambian team who commits themselves to knowing these children and families and loving on them daily.

We thank you for all your partnerships because that is the reason Isaac is helped!

- Alissa Hollimon