Alissa and I got back yesterday afternoon, barely. At the ticketing counter in the Lusaka International Airport, the situation didn’t look very positive. Then again in during our 30-minute, terminal-transferring, go-through-security-again layover in Amsterdam. We’re working in the office this morning, but don’t be too impressed – we’ve already decided that doing accounting when the jetlag hits this afternoon is a bad idea, so we’re calling it an early day after lunch.
One of the coolest things I saw was getting to see our child sponsorship officers in action. Their job title, “child sponsorship officer”, doesn’t fully convey what these five people are actually doing in schools every single day. They’re heroes. Stability in an unstable world. Sometimes the only consistent love these kids get. Shepherds and disciplers. Tutors. Chefs, servers, and cleaners. Champions for every single child’s faith, education, and growth. They show up to school every single day, and the Zambian school year runs year-round. Then they’ll stop by the Arise Home on their way home (which really is an hour-long detour, maybe a couple bus transfers, and a lot of walking) to play a quick game of soccer with the kids. They’re awesome.
Susan and Brenda work at Destiny Community School. Susan is eight months pregnant and is already talking about strapping baby Kemule (pronounced Camille!) to her back as soon as she’s born so she can get back to work. Brenda is our most tenured staff member and takes care of all our Americans.
The way child sponsorship works is each of the officers start with a batch of children and work their way up to 30 children (more on that later!). For every child, they pay school fees, make sure their uniformed which is on going since uniforms tend to get worn ragged quickly, cook them one hot meal every school day, know everything about their family situation, disciple them, make sure they’re doing well in school, write a report back to America once every three months.
That’s just everything I knew they were doing before I came to Zambia…it didn’t occur to me until I actually visited the schools that there is so much more. I don’t think I can find the words to describe exactly how much time is being invested into each child, so I can only say what I saw in the short time I was there. One of our new kiddos is really sick; she had TB on top of being HIV positive and wasn’t getting the nutrition necessary for her medication to work. Susan and Brenda noticed she needed help, got her into the program, and are now supplementing her food with expensive nutrition drinks and working with the child’s mother to make sure she is getting food at home. It’s a lot of extra work, but Susan and Brenda pushed us to get her more help. On a more day-to-day basis, there are kids that need tutoring after school, kids that did well last term but are struggling this term, kids that live with their cousin yet still call her “mom”, and so much more. Our child sponsorship officers know it all, and keep everything straight.
And then there’s the nshima! One of the major skills that Alissa and I definitely don’t have is serving food. There is a special technique to spooning out nshima that we don’t have. It has to be the right size, be rolled/shaped properly, consistent, and fast. It’s the most basic child sponsorship officer skill and Alissa and I don’t make the cut.
Solomon, Kochelani, and Florence (not pictured because she was at her school going to class for a teaching certificate) work at Grace Community School. They’re awesome and were a great team during camp.
Solomon and Kochelani just bumped up to having 30 children each, which means we have a new batch of children that need your help. If you’re interested, please email Alissa at firstname.lastname@example.org. Child sponsorship is one of the most impactful ways to help change a life. It’s incredible to see these kids’ desire to go to school every day, and to stay in school despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that get in their way every day. Here are three of the many kiddos that are new to the child sponsorship program and need sponsors: