Friday, March 30, 2012

A child(ren) shall lead them

Hannah Cummings, Rebecca Cummings, Jaylene Slack, Trysten Slack pointing to a picture of the Zambian children wearing bracelets the girls made and sent to them.

Escondido congregation making friendship bracelets.
 Our passionate crew in Escondido California has moved to the next level; they've got the whole congregation involved!  At a recent church service the lemonade/earring/bracelet-making girls showed slides of their string bracelets being modeled by the Zambian children.  They then gave each member of the congregation a bracelet 'start' which was taped to the pew in front of them.  Everyone in the congregation from front pew to last, old to young, crafty to non-crafty, nimble fingered to ....well, you get the idea.  The girls led the charge and now have everyone in the congregation making bracelets that will be coveted and proudly worn by the kids in Zambia.  Go team!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Orphan Support Groups are thriving

Kelsey and friends
Kelsey is now back in Texas after spending a whirl-wind two weeks in Zambia organizing and role modeling support groups for the orphans.  Here are her parting observations:

Chipulukusu:  10 Child Support Specialists (CSS) are working with the groups.  They held their first solo support group without my help and were so proud of their success!

Zamtan: 8 CSS volunteering
These women have completely blown me away! They are holding groups 2x a month and have been doing this since May. They also go out in the community to meet caregivers, explain what the CSS are doing, and make connections with the orphans. They said that at first, it was very difficult to get support of caregivers, but now after the orphans have come to the groups, the caregivers are asking about the next group sessions!!
The set-up is a bit different here: They have different children at each group with no set groups that meet consistently. They said that they talk and listen and the children do dramas (the children prepared several dramas for us while we were there - so eye-opening to get a child's perspective of the life of an orphan!)

Kasompe:12 CSS are volunteering! 
The CSS here have a great partnership going with the teachers at the school. When the teachers identify an orphan who needs help, they call the CSS to come and meet with them and try to meet that need (example given was a child who needs care at a clinic).
They have identified 7 children to participate in an ongoing support group. They already have the schedule set for the meetings to be 2x a week after school.
Overall, EXTREMELY encouraging!! It seems that the training last year was quite effective and the women were excited to have follow up education and support for this next step. We'll see what happens with it.....Each group has elected a chairperson for the CSS who will be reporting information. I have asked them to share their successes, their difficulties, or additional support they identify needing from HEC.

Kelsey also said she could tell a difference in the children even after the first session!!  At last, they feel special!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

We're so Blue!

Our new classrooms at Chipulukusu are turning BLUE!  After being painted a bright white, the classrooms have now been painted blue.  The Kafwa visit to Chikumbuso in January inspired them with the colors they saw everywhere.  When they got back to Chipulukusu they discovered there were 3 gallons of white paint left.  By adding a little blue, viola! they had enough to paint both of the classrooms.

The students and the teachers love the blue!  Not only is it a calming color for classroom management but it is also distinctive in the community.  All of the other schools are painted stark-plain-vanilla white.  The next step is to install wooden rails on all of the classroom walls so colorful art work and learning materials can be displayed.  With split second timing, the upcoming Buckhorn, CA Women's Retreat offered to make laminated number and alphabet cards that can be used for display.  How cool is that?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Going Backwards

After hours of grant writing, meetings with Rotary, applications to Tangible Love, we were finally successful in getting the kids off the floor and into real desks and benches.  We were thrilled!!  Now, thanks to Lisa, we've got them back on the floor again!  What??

It seems the most productive way to form learning circles for lessons such as reading is to get the kids gathered in small groups on floor mats.  The teachers are thrilled with this new 'technology'!  The appropriate mat became a BIG topic of discussion and the teachers went with Lisa to pick out just the right one for their classrooms.  Best of all, it's working!  The kids can now be actively involved in small groups in addition to the whole classroom teaching activities.  The desks and benches are still obviously critical for the classrooms but so are the floor mats.  Go, Lisa, even if it takes us backwards!

Monday, March 12, 2012

More Artists!

The kids absolutely love art!!  How did they learn to draw so well having never had tools before??  Has the talent always been there just waiting to be released through little finger tips??

Artist Alfred

Despite the long walk and the lack of shoes, Alfred loves coming to school every day because he doesn’t want to waste a day of learning.  He dreams of becoming a doctor in a community clinic so he can help those who are ill.  Alfred is a double orphan living with his grandmother, three sisters, and one brother.  He is a fabulous artist!

Mirriam loves to come to school and learn.  A single orphan living with her mother and little sisters, Mirriam doesn’t have much free time because she does the sweeping, cooking, bathing, and caring for her siblings every day.  When she does have free time, Mirriam studies her books at home so that one day she can become a teacher herself.
Artist Miriam

Artist Suny
Suny has attended the Chipulukusu Young Peacemaker’s School for one year.  Before attending this school, he attended a government school, but he lost his place there when he had to stop attending to work in his family’s garden.  He lives with this grandma, his mom, and two sisters, as his father has passed away.  Suny loves to draw pictures and wants to study mechanics because he loves to work on cars.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Meet the Artists!

One of the activities we're introducing into the schools in Zambia is art.  In order to draw you obviously need paper and pencils/crayons, etc.  Such a luxury!  Given the tools, however, the kids do amazing work.  We are now taking the art work and making notecards to sell for the schools. 

Now meet a couple of our artists:

Artist Lenge

Artist Theresa

For the past three years, Theresa has been attending the Chipulukusu Young Peacemaker’s School, where she enjoys learning with her friends.  She is a 13 year-old-student in grade 5 who likes the subject English the best.  Because she has five sisters and three brothers Theresa never thought she would go to school until the Young Peacemakers School opened.  Her dream is to study law one day.

 Lenge is 13 years and in grade four.  He could not afford to attend school when he was younger, so the Kasompe Community School of Peace has given him an opportunity he never thought possible.  He started school in Grade 2 and has since learned to read and write—this is a huge accomplishment!  Lenge is the last born in a single Mother family and wants to be a Clinic Officer when he grows up so he can
help other people.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kafwa making the rounds for their home visits.

The Kafwa health workers are truly amazing!  I have been priviledged to accompany them on several home visits this year.  One of the more memorable people I met was Tomilla who was born in 1910 -- do the math!  She had 13 children, 11 of whom died after they were adults.  She now lives with one of her 18 grandchildren.  Her

 When I entered Tomilla's house she was sitting on the floor, leaning against a sofa that had most of its stuffing hanging out, and had a charcoal brazzier by her side to keep warm.  She immediately apologized for not having any mutnkgo, a beverage served to guests. She fell 1 1/2 years ago, broke her hip, and scoots around on the floor explaining "These are my legs now" (indicating her hands).  Incredible sense of humor!  When I complimented her on the colorful red and yellow flower turban she had wrapped around her head, she looked puzzled at first, reached up and patted it, and then broke into a wide smile as she remembered what she was wearing.

When I asked if she liked to have the Kafwa come every week she said, " SANA!!" which means "very much" in Swahili.  "Now I know the burden is lighter."  When we got ready to leave, her daughter-in-law who is her primary caregiver said "I feel like dancing! This house does not receive visitors because it is so poor."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Orphan Support Groups

Kelsey surrounded by her heroes -- the CSS
Kelsey Welch is currently in Zambia for 2 weeks serving as a HealthEd Connect intern to mentor the women who volunteered to facilitate support groups for the orphans.  Below is her first report:

.... headed back down to Chipulukusu for day one of the grief support groups for the kids. First group was younger age (grade 1) followed by the older children's group (grade 4). We had about 7-9 children in each group (wonderful number!!). I am leading the first few groups to sort of model how the group works and then will be leaving the CSS [Child Support Specialists] with materials and plans for next 11 group sessions to continue. The kids were so melt-your-heart wonderful! Their eyes are so old for how young they are and seem to have a depth that no little child should have had to seen thus far. But yet, we were able to laugh and smile and be silly together. And I really feel like each of them was able to feel just how incredibly special they are (which is one of the most important things for all of us - to feel loved and to feel special). I hope they all come back tomorrow for our next session.
The second group of older kids was shocking in that the majority of the kids are what they call "double orphans" meaning both parents have died, and in addition also had multiple siblings who had died. Already so much loss at such a very young age. It should not have been as surprising as it was to me when all of the children except one said that they experience nightmares often. I feel like these groups and this support will be able to meet a need that these children so desperately need filled! I am in such awe of the CSS ladies (many of whom are widows and caring for their own children as well as orphans) who volunteer their time to commit to helping these children in their communities. These women are the real heroes in my world. You can see the passion in their faces to help these children. They understand fully the huge scope of the issue and vastness of the children who need to be reached and there is a hunger in their approach to doing what they can to make things better for these kids. I am so humbled and so inspired by their love and their commitment and feel so privileged to be allowed to work alongside them in this capacity.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Littlest Angel

Remember baby Elijah?  We received news this week that he passed away.  We only met him once but were captivated by his all-knowing, big wide eyes, and gentle little spirit.  It was agony to watch him struggle for every breath when we visited him...I can only imagine what his mother went through.  We had purchased sugar and showed her how to make oral rehydration solution hoping that might give him a little boost.

 Elijah was born nearly 2 months premature with what his mother described as "a lung problem."  He was only 17 months old when he died but he had the face of a little old man.   Every breath has been a struggle for him from the beginning.  May his little spirit rest in peace...+