Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Marriage Proposals

Today was a great day. I woke up this morning and headed out quickly to meet our Zambian team member Isaac. Isaac was with me the entire day and we accomplished ALOT! Our first stop was at Greenhill School, where we built them classrooms back in January. We had forgotten to tell them I was coming so it was a major surprise! It was awesome to see everyone and kids were learning in the classrooms. They have so much more space and classes aren't having to share rooms. Their high school kids are using the new classrooms, and they were very grateful. We had given them quite a few classroom decorations and school supplies and I was happy to see them being used. I think we might need to give a few pointers on how to decorate classrooms but they are definetely enthuiastic!

This particular classroom really enjoyed the construction paper we gave them:

We stayed at Greenhill for a while, and did some video and hung out with the kids.

Then Isaac and I started our errand running and we were on the move. We went into town which is always an adventure in itself. People are everywhere trying to sell you pirated DVDs to belts and even cell phone chargers on the street corners. Parking is a nightmare so people will fight for parking spots for you and in return you must pay them. This is always entertaining to me and luckily Isaac did a great job making sure we weren't ripped off. We found a pretty good parking spot and started our shopping.

We first went and bought school books for our sponsored children. After that we had a list of things that our Zambian team had asked us for which we of course forgot. so we had to keep calling Brenda and Susan which I am sure they were thrilled at! We bought them some more cooking pots and plates for our feeding program for our sposored kids. This meant going to the plastics store. They have a whole store that only sells every type of plastic available. From plastic chairs to forks, you buy it here.

As Isaac was paying for the plastics I walked outside to find a man selling giant wooden spoons that you use for stirring Enshima here. The girls had asked us to buy some so I began to ask him how much and then start the bartering process. I thought I was doing pretty good on the spoons and was about to pay when Isaac came out and asked how much he was charging me. He then proceeded to tell the man just because I was white I would not be getting ripped off and we paid about one fourth of what I had him at. That is when I was politely told to not buy a single thing anymore because my skin color was a disadvantage. I took that advice and kept my mouth shut the rest of the day when it came to price negogiating!

Our next stop was to buy some large pots for cooking and knives. We got some great knives but the pots were very expensive and I think I can get better prices in the USA and they can be brought over so we will wait on that. Isaac and I then made our last stop to buy washing soap for clothes. As we were walking to the car I was stopped by a stumbling drunk and dirty man who asked if I would marry him. I am sure my father is devestated but I declined.

We fought the traffic and left town and headed to one of our community schools where we met Brenda and Susan and unloaded our gear. We did some video at this school and followed up on a loan we had given them a few months ago. They purchased some industrial sewing machines and now make clothes which they sell and use the funds for their school. It is going remarkably well and seeing 6 women who now have jobs was really inspiring.

The last part of our day we went back to the local market where many of our sponsored kids live in tarp homes. We visited a few of their homes and gave out more clothes for winter and visited with parents and grandparents. We shot some video and hung out.

As weird as it sounds, it was really cool to be in the market at the end of the day. The sun was going down and I looked around and realized how lucky we are to be loved so much. As we went from house to house and were able to distribute food and clothes to grateful parents and children, I was overwhelmed at how blessed we are. I was honored to be there with our great Zambian team and was proud of them. They knew all the parents and kids and their siblings. They were loved in this community and it was evident. And I stood out like a sore thumb and was loved just as much. Well maybe not by the small babies who were scared of me because they had never seen a white person.

While in the city market I was asked by another stumbling, drunk and dirty man if I would marry him. Once again I declined.

It was a perfect way to end the day! (not the proposal, but visiting folks in the city market)

Back in Zambia

Well it's been a long time since we have blogged, and life has been crazy!

I arrived in Zambia a few days ago and have been checking in on our programs and kids and Zambian team. It has been great.

Yesterday I visited one of our partnering community schools where we have our child sponsorship program. Our American team had come in January and held a kids camp at the school and when I arrived I was attacked by kids hugging and asking me where everyone else was. They were definitely disappointed when I told them I was the only American to come!

Our child sponsorship program has grown since I was last here which has been a major blessing. Two of our staff members are at this school daily and help watch the kids, do Bible classes, help tutor, and feed them. They have done an amazing job at feeding them and watching the kids receive a great meal was really special. I can honestly say you see God's love for these kids. If you are a child sponsor we can't thank you enough.

We unloaded suitcases of childrens clothing I brought over because winter will be here in a few weeks in Zambia. A few of our bigger kids had not received any new clothing in a while because we didn't have their sizes or they were new to the sponsorship program. One child, Isaac, is new to our program and is one of our worse off. We got Isaac some clothes and visited his home after school.

Isaac lives with his father and his mother passed away about a year ago. They live in the local market where homes are made of tarps, cardboard, and a few wood posts. The homes are stacked on top of one another and you walk through a maze of people to get to where he lives. When we arrived Isaac's father was sitting outside his home of tarps making straw brooms, which he sells for about 20 cents each. There was a small fire going outside the home and we all sat on the dirt and began to chat. Isaac has a good father, who loves him and cares for his kids, the best he can. Our Zambian team had visited their home a few times and the father was beyond grateful for our help when we told him we would be covering Isaac's school fees for the term. Isaac's dad spoke English well and you could tell he was a strong man. He had a torn shirt on and thanked me for our help. Isaac had been to school with a dirty uniform the past few weeks so we had bought some soap for them. We also had bought a big bag of Mealie Meal, which is what they use to make their staple food Enshima. I joked with he father about how I have never met a Zambian who turned down Enshima. Isaac's brothers and sisters ran around as we all chatted and we drew a bit of a crowd with the white girl being in the middle of the slum. It is a rare occasion to see a white person in that area. As I sat and got to hang out I was so grateful that our team have cultivated these relationships with parents and kids that I get to come and be a tiny part of that too.

We also gave their family some clothes for the winter. I was lucky to bring over some great fleeces and coats that had been donated and Isaac also received a new pair of shoes, soccer cleats none the less but he LOVES them.

We were careful to bring clothes for his siblings.

As we handed over the clothes I couldn't help but notice the stark white t-shirts and the contrast of the dirty home and area they lived in. Although everyone has their homes as clean as possible, it is difficult when you have a dirt floor and barley any shelter. I was encouraged to know that Isaac will have a great fleece this winter that will keep him warm, because the "walls" of his home will offer little protection.

It is easy to get discouraged when you are in a place like the market visiting kids and people you love that live in plastic homes. But it also is extremely motivating and rewarding to offer aid and help and see the difference it makes in kids lives.

If you look at how Issac and his family were helped, it took a group of us. It took his American sponsor who monthly gives to support him, other Americans who donated kids clothes and shoes, and our Zambian team who commits themselves to knowing these children and families and loving on them daily.

We thank you for all your partnerships because that is the reason Isaac is helped!

- Alissa Hollimon