Everybody benefits from Anaëlle Sacco’s time in Zambia

Close-up with friendly AYC faces!
Close-up with friendly AYC faces!

African Education Program’s French connection continued with Anaëlle Sacco in 2014. Anaëlle, a recent graduate of NEOMA Business School in France, departed Zambia around Christmas after a three-month visit. Her impact with the students and staff at Amos Youth Centre was immediate and enduring.

Anaëlle, who was looking for a volunteer opportunity in Africa, learned about AEP through the cousin of founder Julie-Anne Savarit-Cosenza. Under Anaëlle’s leadership, the students at Amos played games and sports, did puzzles, drew pictures, and skipped rope, among other activities.

“While it could be very energy consuming, I got a lot of satisfaction and joy seeing them playing and enjoying the games,” Anaëlle said. “They always came to show me their drawings or the result of the color puzzle and seemed proud of it. I also got some drawings of the little girls with sweet messages that I will take back home with me as souvenirs.”

Anaelle stirs a pot of vegetables for the Breakfast Club.
Anaelle stirs a pot of vegetables for the Breakfast Club.

Julie-Anne said she was thrilled with Anaëlle’s contributions and noted that Anaëlle immersed herself in Zambia’s culture and also cooked for the Breakfast Club.

“She was awesome,” Julie-Anne said. “We definitely benefited from her work on the ground. She made some really great friendships there. The experience is completely different, culture and community, and she really took it all in.”

Used to a faster pace of life, Anaëlle even learned to decelerate when necessary.

“She’s a go-getter,” Julie-Anne said. “She wanted to make change and see results. She’s a mover and a shaker. This is Africa. Things are slower. For her, the biggest thing was learning how to relax and slow down some times. You don’t have to be going a million miles a minute.”

Anaelle snaps a picture on her phone as she spends time with two AYC youngsters.
Anaelle snaps a picture on her phone as she spends time with two AYC youngsters.

While numerous volunteers from the United States and France have volunteered with AEP in Zambia over the last decade, Julie-Anne said Anaëlle’s experience may serve as a blueprint for future young volunteers.

“We are really hoping to have young people come for two or three months at a time,” she said. “Again, with connecting communities, giving them a great work experience and helping us at the same time. We really do want to build our local staff and their skills as leaders at Amos and in their communities. At the same time, it’s good to empower a young person. We started this when we were teenagers. We want to continue to build that passion and let them have an experience in Africa that we were fortunate enough to have.”