The decision to leave for Zambia was not difficult, but it wasn’t easy either…
I suppose it was a mixture between the desire for the unknown and the remorse of what you are leaving behind.
A curious fact is that it wasn’t difficult for me to adapt to the place, to its people, nor to the culture, not even to October’s heat…Althought it was not until the fourth month of being there when this period of adaptation began to end and I really started to consider Zambia as my home.
I remember that days flew by, that months seemed like weeks…
I could write about millions of experiences, about leaning experiences, about people, about culture, about the East and West…But I am still not aware of what I have lived. Because of this, I know that coming back is also part of the trip, it is the moment where you ask and answer yourself. Where you really start to realise what you have learned, even if from the outside you look just the same.
But what I can talk about is the courageous work that is carried out in the field. People who set their life aside for a goal, a dream.
I worked on the sponsorship project with Kahyata Vincent Kahyata, whom I now consider my Zambian brother, and with the most ineffable woman I have ever met, Kalimba Joyce, our mother and Zambian director.
Thanks to them, my job was much easier.
This project consists on offering the possibility to access education to those who can not have it. KUBUKA sponsores 105 children, to whom high school fees imposed by the government are paid. In addition to working directly with the schools and families.
Still, this seemed insufficient. We needed to make sure that the education which KUBUKA is making possible, was being effective.
We decided to start a new project within the sponsorship program. The creation of an after-school center used for reinforcement lessons and the learning of values, both for sponsored children and those who aren’t. These lessons are taught by qualified Zambian teachers and have the ultimate goal of making it easier for students to pass high school and have a more prosperous future.
This new project is carried out in Mwandi, a small town just outside Livingstone. It is not easy for me to write about this place, which was my form of escape, where I realised where I really was, why I was there and who I was. Where I saw our project be born and how it grew…There we felt like we were one more.
At first, I was shocked to see the desire of Zambian children to learn, I was not used to seeing that, I guess because of the place where I come from…
I thought about my childhood, when I grabbed my school’s entrance door while I cried because I didn’t want to go to class or, later, in high school, when I ran away whenever I could…The children in Zambia go to school whenever they can, and are happy to be able to learn.
I still remember, as if it were today, the first day that we opened the doors of the centre.
We trusted that the work we had done was going to give results, but there was always the fear that nobody would show up. Despite this prognosis, Zambia suprised me once again because the attendance on the first day was much higher than we could have imagined.
I hugged Vincent…
I looked at Joyce, she closed her eyes and nodded with the usual smile on her lips, and I knew that we were beginning to fulfill a dream. Our dream.
Moreover, we began to work hand by hand with the families of Mwandi, holding workshops on topics that we had previously established as a need. Attendance in these workshops was higher month by month, we were on the right track…
I could only observe the talent that was present in that room, the perfect example of a “precarious” town’s desire to move forward in a “forgotten” country.
I remember sitting in Mwandi, watching our progress. How the children came a little closer to their future, to their dreams, how, with each objective being fulfilled, what once was a simple idea was getting stronger day by day…
And meanwhile, I, without realising it, was also changing.
I can not help miss my life there, or rather, I can not help but miss myself. When you come back you run into the reality we live in, where apparently we have everything, but we do nothing. Where the rush and our fears make us forget what we are really looking for. I left a great family behind, in a great country, which I am very aware that we have much to learn from.
I keep learning from you, but not with you.
Thank you Zambia.