In September, there were elections. I can say, I have never seen or heard anything like that in my entire life. People were stampeding and mobing in the streets (I got caught in TWO in Chipata) and there were rocks thrown, fires set and people beated. Police came in with teargas in some areas to control the situations. Luckily, our little neighborhood was quite quiet. I was off work for some time while the violence was going on (it was worst in town and in the compounds, where I usually work from) but I was keeping up with what was going on outside my little fenced in world here through news, radio and friends. The opposition, Micheal Sata, won, and there was a TEN hour celebration of cars, parades and people screaming and yelling in the streets (it started at 12:30 in the morning and ended well into the next day). Our kids in Ndola were on "lockdown" for a bit, as police were dealing with vioolence and set off teargas bombs in the streets- and everyone was instructed to stay in with their windows and doors locked.
Luckily, everyone was safe and life has continued on. I have since gone back to teaching and am still steadily working with the boys. One morning, Protasho came to school wearing a hat and said "Madame, my head is not good." He took off the hat to revel all the hair and a good chunk of his skin missing, in an open pink wound. What had happened, was that some drunk men were arguing over political issues and knocked over a bottle of oil that was on sale at Protasho's mom's business- and it shattered. Protasho stood up to them telling them they had to pay for it. They began to beat him, and then threw rocks at his head when he was down. He had 4 stitches, but is healing quite nicely now and the hair is growing back in. I felt so bad for him, but so proud that he was "man" enough to stand up to the men.
Their school is going well, but I believe Protasho has a lot of the learning disabilities as Barbara. Patrick will understand something at a grade 5 level in two tries, and it takes Protasho about 2 weeks to get the same concept... and if we don't review each day he has lost it in a week. This is frustrating for him, as Patrick is 3 years younger than him.
Mutale had been coming for tutoring also, and we were considering sponsoring him in the next year. Unfortunately, on Monday he came to class drunk and was fighting with Protasho. We had to let him go from our program because of breaking the rules. I feel bad but he clearly wasnt focused and serious and there are so many kids out there who need our help.
Speaking of which- we have added EIGHT new kids!!!! That gives us a new total of 30 kids!! Many people like to read a short bio of the kids, so here they are: (check facebook for photos coming shortly)
James Stambuli was born in November of 2001. He is the youngest of three children. His mother died of HIV in January, 2004, and his father died the same year of HIV in December. When his parents died, James was often extremely sick so his grandmother, who had become is guardian, took him for an HIV test, for which he was found to be positive. His white blood count was so low that he was immediately put on ARV medication and has been on them since. He has been going to a free community school and is performing extremely poorly due to lack of resources, crowded classrooms of 70 or more kids, and also frequent absences due to his sickness. He struggles to complete grade 1 level, even though he is technically in grade 3. He lives with his grandparents, and 5 cousins whom the grandparents also look after. We are also sponsoring his cousin, Mary who lives with him. He is a very smiley boy and seems to want to do well and succeed. His living condition is simple. The family shares one bed and it is a small space for 7 people to fit in. We will be placing James in a closer school (his is quite far considering his health) at grade 3 and offer him advanced tutoring to get him caught up to his peers.
Mary Banda is a single orphan, living with her grandparents. Her father died in 2005, and her mother is still living and lives close by but does not take care of her children. Occasionally the mother is said to do bits of work but it does not pay for food, clothing or any other fees for the children. She lives with 7 people made up of herself, her grandparents and other siblings and cousins. She has a brother in high school, and another who failed out of grade 7 and never went back She herself has never been to school. We are sponsoring her cousin from under the same roof, James, who is HIV+. She shares a bed with all those in the home and her living situation is quite cramped and sad, as her mother is not taking care of her and her grandmother is stretched between 5 kids. She likes girly things and when we met her she was in a bright pink nightgown with clips in her short hair. She is very smiley and seems to be happy and proud to be involved and ready to go to school. We will start her in grade 1 at a nearby school.
Edina Phiri is a single orphan living with her grandparents. Her grandfather is very ill, as he recently had a stroke, and neither of the grandparents work. Her father died in 2007. Her mother is still living, and actually resides with her uncle two streets down, but does not care for her daughter physically or financially. Edina’s home is very small. She lives with her grandparents and 5 others. They have no bed or bedroom, and they all sleep together on a mat on the floor. One of the people she lives with is her sister, Agnes, who has down syndrome She was raped last year and has a small baby (Natasha) that she needs constant attention to care for as she suffers from “outbursts” and “fits”, which divides the elderly grandmother's attention between her and the ailing husband- leaving little left for the care of the other 4 ( Edina, Joseph, George and James). She completed school up to grade 3, but stopped last year due to lack of financial ability.
Emmanuel Tonga was born in 1998. His parents separated when he was born and his mother moved to Chilenge (a town about a half hour away) and got a job as a maid. She does not financially or physically support Emmanuel, his brother, Frank or his sister, Nelia. His father died in 2010, but Emmanuel was not associated with his father anyway, because he was left with his grandmother (who is also widowed) in 2004. His sister, Nelia, is 7 and has never been to school. We will be supporting both Emmanuel and his brother at this time. All three children were left by the mother in 2004 when Nelia was born and have been with their grandmother since. She lives in a one bedroom home. All four sleep on the floor in the main room as there is no bedroom, or bed. When first meeting him, Emmanuel came out with a folder where he had saved every piece of paperwork he has ever received that concerns himself and his schooling and handed us the folder. His grandmother says he is always that organized he claims it is so “people take him serious.” He is VERY excited to be going back to school. He made it to grade 5 at a free community school in a class of nearly 70 students, but stopped in 2010 due to lack of funding. We plan to send him back to grade 5 to a nearby school.
Frank Tonga is the middle child of 3. His older brother, Emmanuel, is also one of our sponsored children. He also has a young sister, Nelia. They all live with their grandmother who was widowed years ago. His father died in 2010 but Frank was not closely associated with him, as his parents were separated. His mother dropped the kids with their grandmother the year Nelia was born and has not come back for them since. She works as a maid in a town about 30 minutes away but does not physically or financially care for the children. He and his brother, sister and grandmother sleep on the floor in the main room as there is no bed or bedroom. Frank completed grade 3 but stopped attending school last year due to lack of finances. He seems shy but very smiley and excited for the opportunity. We will be sending him to grade 3 at a closer school in 2012.
Amos Mumba is a double orphan being kept by his sister. She is married and has a small baby of her own. He grew up in the bush, but last year moved to Kabanana so his sister's husband could find work, however, he has only found odd jobs, and it is not sustaining them. They are living in a two bedroom home that they share between 9 people. He has not gone to school since 2010 but had completed grade 3. He seems very shy but willing and ready to get back into school. We plan to send him to a nearby school in 2012
Peggy Simangola is the first born of four. Her siblings are Steven (7) , Beatrice (4) and Boniface (1). Her father died in 2007. She has attended a community school up to grade 2 but according to her mother it is “as good as not going to school at all” as she was in a class of over 60 students. She stopped attending in 2010. Her mother is often sick and is unable to work due to severe chest pains and weakness. A recent Xray showed “spots” on her lungs. They live in a one bedroom home and the mother was born in that room and has never lived outside of it, and is now raising her children there. Their home life is VERY sad. They have no shoes, no bed, and rarely have sufficient food. They often go days without eating at all. Their home is covered in flies and cockroaches and is in very tight and unsanitary quarters. We plan to send her to grade 2 in 2012.
Steven Simangola is second born of 4 children. He has never attended school. His father died in 2007. Her mother is often sick and is unable to work due to severe chest pains and weakness. A recent Xray showed “spots” on her lungs. They live in a one bedroom home and the mother was born in that room and has never lived outside of it, and is now raising her children there. Their home life is VERY sad. They have no shoes, no bed, and rarely have sufficient food. They often go days without eating at all. Their home is covered in flies and cockroaches and is in very tight and unsanitary quarters. We plan to send him to grade 1 in 2012In the next few weeks we have a lot coming up including a Pool Party, Christmas Parties for both the Ndola kids and also one here and a few other events. I can say in the past week I've been getting increasingly stressed and overwhelmed as I am planning my trip home, presentations when I get home... adding these new kids and all the background work that goes on, preparing Barbara for her big grade 7 exams, tutoring all the kids in preparation for end of the year exams, budgeting for the next year.... there is a lot on my plate. On top of all that, Protasho has tonsilitis, Barbara and Memeory have intestinal worms and I was told I have dysentary.
I have about 2 months to go here before my break... pray that God sustains me and gives me the strenth to do what needs to be done. November through February are our busiest months, and with 30 kids now (we had 11 last year at this time) I have tripled my workload.
I love the work God has given me to do. I can honestly say, tutoring/teaching isn't my calling even though it takes up so much of my time. My favorite days are the days when we go shopping and bring food or clothes to a family. I love going out and meeting new families and looking for opportunity. I even like the days we spend taking kids to the clinic and making sure they are heathy- knowing that otherwise they'd never get treatment... but my ultimate favorite is just... hanging out with them. I am given the chance to be a positive influence DIRECTLY in 30 lives. That is not something I take lightly. I want to talk to them and sing with them. I love coloring with them and hearing about who Barbara thinks is cute or what dream car Morgan has or what Patrick wants to do when he grows up. These are my kids... they are real kids with ideas and souls and plans and hopes- and I can facilitiate guiding them to be the men and women they will become. It's simply incredible, and worth the purple bags under my eyes.