Deep down I hoped I would get to return someday. But it was one of those hopes you hold loosely, because nothing like that is certain and life unexpectedly rises up and rewrites any sort 3-5 year plans we have for ourselves.
In the summer of 2013 I traveled to Zambia with Dwankhozi Hope, one of the very first things I did after moving back to Seattle and agreeing to fill a Communications role with the organization. It was a surprise to be invited and of course I blindly said ‘yes,’ with only an elementary knowledge of DH and not one foot set on the continent of Africa.
Traveling with a group of Queen Anne Elementary teachers and DH program staff, I stepped off the plane with a camera and a computer, tasked with capturing our trip in words, pictures and videos. What came out in a blog post at the end of each day were raw, wide-eyed musings that tried to churn through everything that had happened over the last 12 hours. It was a sensory dump at my computer every night, fighting back yawns to try and communicate the day’s activities on behalf of our group while processing my own experiences and emotions. I was thrilled to learn it resonated with many readers back on this side of the Atlantic and included many in our trip.
We went to introduce Queen Anne Elementary School to Dwankhozi Primary School and begin building relationships and connections that have endured since.
Now I find myself eagerly clutching at that once loosely-held hope, because three years later I get to return to Zambia – this Friday. It’s a dream to revisit such a place, specifically the people who fill that place. The focus of this trip is different: to see the progress being made on the construction of a new secondary school and hear from students, teachers and parents about what it means for their community. Last year we hosted our Building Hope Dinner in Seattle to raise funds for this project, and (shameless plug alert!) on April 28th we are gathering again to help our friends in Zambia finish this incredible project.
On this trip there are just two of us traveling to the Dwankhozi community – myself and Mark Russo, Dwankhozi Hope’s Board Chair. Mark was one of the original founders of DH and last visited in 2010. We will be graciously welcomed and accompanied by our Zambia Project Manager, Moses Masala.
Our agenda while visiting is fairly simple: listen to stories and deepen relationships.
There are countless stories being lived out in this Zambian community – and the construction of a local secondary school impacts just about all of them. Education is a basic tenet of our existence, and one that every child in every country deserves – to expand their worldview, to grow and mature, to step closer toward their dreams. We want to hear those stories.
And Dwankhozi Hope was founded on relationships. Relationships are what have kept two communities so closely tied together, on opposite ends of the world, for more than a decade. Relationships are what drive the foundation of our mission – that our interconnectedness is far deeper than any sort of differences. So Mark and I are going to learn, listen, share and pour into new and old friendships.
So if you plan to follow along during our trip, I will do my best to bring you onto the construction site, into neighboring partner schools and into conversations and moments with the Dwankhozi community (pending internet reliability). My reflections will certainly be different than three years ago, having been a part of DH since then, but I will bring open ears and fresh eyes so this trip can reach broadly.
On the right-hand side of this page you can make sure you’re subscribed to our blog. Or just check back on this page each day to read. And to make sure you don’t miss out on any stories that come back with us, reserve your seat at our Building Hope Dinner on April 28th 🙂
See you soon,