As I look out the car window, my jaw hits the ground at what I see.Dirt, trash, huts, poverty, sadness. I am sitting in the backseat of a bus that’s chugging its way through the dirt roads of Lusaka, Zambia, Southern Africa. The setting around me is eye popping; it’s not at all what I’m used to when I come to visit my mother’s home country. As the bus attracts curious stares from anyone it passes, I remember that day when my mother announced that we would be returning home to begin building a new school, orphanage, and community center on land we had inherited.
Trekking to rural Kasama, north of Lusaka, was no fun. Sitting in the cramped backseat of my cousins sedan, squished between my mother and grandmother, for ten hours was enough to make me crazy. Flying over potholes, driving on dirt roads, and maneuvering through crowds of people was an art in itself! Eventually we got there and immediately went to meet the Headman of the village for approval. We sat in his modest house, explaining our objective, silently praying that he would be on our side. And he was! He gave us his blessing and stood behind us 100%, excited that we were giving back to the community.
Next, we surveyed the land and created a map of where each building would be located. We walked our property with others on our team and decided where the different buildings would go. It was a very productive day.
Although I was excited about our work in Kasama, I still had a hole in my spirit. I have such a heart for children and knowing all I have in America, and seeing all that the children don’t have in Zambia, made me cringe. This was especially true when we returned to Lusaka and visited Hope and FaithCommunitySchool in one of the shantytowns. No playground, just an open dirt plot, no bigger than a classroom. No heating. No air conditioning. No electricity. Not enough books. Not enough materials.
Our intention was to visit the school, discover their needs, and be a blessing. I was not expecting to be changed myself. These kids, especially the little ones, with eyes the size of the moon, and joy unthinkable, really convicted me and made me think of all that I take for granted.
Just think: a tiny classroom, cracked concrete walls, one window. Wood desks, four feet long, 15 inches wide, five kids to a desk. 40 kids to a room. Smiles everywhere. Laughter filling the space. Kids eager and excited at the opportunity to get an education.
We take education for granted here in America. We complain when we don’t have enough textbooks to go around or have to share with our neighbor. We fuss when the classrooms are too cold or too hot. We curse the person who invented school! But the children of Zambia love school, yet have nothing compared to what we have. They don’t mind doing homework and taking tests. It’s fine with them. They are so grateful for what they have, even though it’s very little.
As I sat on the plane returning home, my mind swelled with ideas of how to help the children of Zambia. “Books!”I thought. The greatest need at Hope and FaithCommunitySchool were books. Thus, Blessing Babes ZA was born. It is my goal to collect hundreds of books to send back to Kasama and create the library that the children have dreamed of. It’s my way of blessing them, as they have blessed me.
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