Dwankhozi Update…Friday 6/28

Friday. It finally came, much to our sadness. A whole week has gone by, and to be honest none of us can really believe it. But today capped off a near-perfect week here in Zambia.

This morning, we visited a handful of government offices, beginning with the Ministry of Health’s providential and district offices. With the new land being donated to Dwankhozi this week, there is a large buzz in the community for a health clinic. We sat down with two different government officials and began the discussion of requirements, staffing, funding, supplying, and facility type. Both were excited by this development, acknowledging the need for additional medical facilities in the Dwankhozi area. They are fighting an uphill battle when it comes to health, often handcuffed by a lack of just about everything. Partnering with outside organizations is key.

Bertha helped Rene figure out a traditional headwrap during lunch today.

Our next stop was at the Ministry of Education (Is it just me, or is this beginning to sound like a Harry Potter plot?). All three District Educational Standards Officers met with us (one had attended the ceremony at Dwankhozi yesterday). We spent a whole hour together, talking more in depth about the e-reader project, listening to them vocalize Zambia’s main educational struggles (teacher-student ratio and resources), sharing similarities between Seattle and Zambia schools, and looking through district curriculum guides. They are particularly excited about using Dwankhozi as a model for expanding the e-reader project, utilizing our local project managers t0 train teachers in other regions. We discussed how Dwankhozi can share its success and progress with other schools in the district. Such exciting stuff, we all walked out the meeting downright giddy about these new developments and the care these Officers have for creating a culture of education in their country.

Megan showed students how to use this fun, twisting puzzle cube. They caught on quick!

We finally arrived at the school in the early afternoon with a checklist of last minute to-do’s. One of our items: share a few bottles of bubbles we brought with the Dwankhozi students. Words will hardly do justice to the pure, absolute, unfiltered joy these students wore on their faces while learning how to blow bubbles (soft breaths, not big breaths) and chasing them around the schoolyard. So I will stop there and just give you a couple pictures:

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This student finally figured it out.

No words.

In the early evening we traveled a few kilometers (as always, traveling abroad exposes us Americans for our ridiculous refusal to not follow the metric system like the rest of the world), to a village near the school. In fact, it is Martin’s village! Sadly, he was still playing with friends at school but we’ve gotten to see him a lot this week. We got to meet his whole family: mom, dad, siblings (the baby his mom was taking to the clinic when the ‘Martin video’ was filmed is now getting so big!). What beautiful people. Lots of kids hanging around in the village, all coming up to us to say hello. It is such a tight-knit community, sharing resources, a well and living so close to each other. Within the village, a solar-reading room has been set up for students to study in the dark! It was remarkable that in a place with little power and limited space, a room had been designated so students can study at night. And grade 9 students will no doubt be using it soon with exams approaching! We were touched by the village’s commitment to educating their children and assisting them in this very unique way.

Beth holding the newest member of our team! We were humbled by the generous gift.

As we were driving away, besides waving to the kids until our hands nearly fell off, we were approached by a Dwankhozi parent walking towards our van…holding a chicken. Yes, it was for us. She handed it to Beth right through the passenger window, its feet tied but very much alive! We quickly named our new passenger ‘Chicken Beth,’ passing her to the back seat. We were all humbled, that this woman would give such a precious resource to us as a thank you for what Dwankhozi is doing in the community. In a way, I think we may have felt a tinge of guilt in that moment, accepting something very valuable when we are not the ones in need. But there is something to be said for allowing others to serve you, not only serving others. We came to get to know and serve this community in whatever way we could, but the equation has constantly been flipped around and we have been served in so many ways. There has been a mutual appreciation and respect between our two groups. And I think I can again safely speak on our whole group’s behalf when I say: we’ve fallen head over heels in love with these people.

We love these people.

And that is why, of course, we were all dreading the goodbyes this evening. Goodbyes to the teachers, students, parents, and Dwankhozi Zambia staff. However, I was struck by the absence of sadness in those farewells. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of heartache leaving this place and these people. But tonight there was so much laughter, so many smiles, so much joy, so much hope in the midst of the hugs and waves. And I think it’s because we all recognize the lasting power of our new individual relationships, the QAE/Dwankhozi partnership, the importance of our work together and the specific needs we are driven to help meet.

There has been so much buildup to this trip: fundraising, planning, traveling and finally arriving. Many would see that arrival and week spent here as the culmination, the payoff, the conclusion. Forgive the cliche, but the end of this trip is really the beginning. The beginning of so, so much more. This trip doesn’t end at Seatac Airport on Tuesday evening. It arrives. And I hope if you’ve been following along this week, you knew that too.

Goodnight from Zambia, the sun set once more this evening in the village.

We will miss these sunsets. That much is certain.

Comments

  1. Finally getting a chance to catch up on these blogs after several days with no access to computer… LOVE, LOVE, LOVE all the news!! Such exciting days ahead in our partnership with Dwankhozi!!

  2. David, Mona & Jack says

    Thanks for continuing to share your magical week there with us. Jack says the soccer pictures were the most fun. we are proud of all of you.

  3. Thank you for these awesome posts and pix!!! So wonderful to see and read about all of the relationships and the fun! I’m DYING to hear about any teaching/learning details–hoping to bend your ears somehow after the trip!!! Chicken Beth–love it!

  4. Alden and Beverly Harris says

    Fabulous stories about your trip…wonderful pictures, we look forward to hearing more about everything when you return. Enjoy safari and have a safe trip home..always in our prayers!!
    Bev and Alden (G & B)

  5. Dianne Ross says

    I laughed when I saw the picture of Beth with “Chicken Beth”, and I teared up when I saw the pictures of the children enjoying the bubbles. Thanks Nick for communicating with us so well.

  6. Molly Meck says

    I am so proud of all of you and I can’t wait to hear more. Safe travels home- we miss you.

  7. Isla boyle says

    I wish I could be there but it is too hot

  8. Love learning more. Look forward to more. Feel so privileged to have a connection. Enjoyed “chicken beth”. What happened with that special gift?

    • Beth MacLean says

      Hi Annelle. Love that you are a part of our community. Chicken Beth is living a very happy life on the farm of one of the teacher’s at the school.

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