Mighty saplings spring from AEP’s seeds

We bid a fond farewell to Susan and Carly and paid a warm welcome to Nathan during a memorable 24-hour span. Agnes hosted a celebratory dinner Wednesday in honor of Susan and Carly’s last day. Agnes’s dinner provided a perfect sendoff for Susan and Carly, who are sorely missed by the team and the students. Everybody made the most of their last night in Kafue. Along with our team and the AEP staff, a few dozen students attended Agnes’s dinner. Men are usually served first in Zambia. The lessons on gender equality aren’t only for the classroom, and the men patiently waited for the women to be served first. After a delicious meal of rice, carrots, pasta, and sausage, it was time to dance. After a few minutes, Agnes’s sitting room resembled a nightclub.

The night didn’t last too long because Susan and Carly had to leave Kafue with Mario and Julie-Anne to catch an 8 a.m. flight. Karen, Sofia, Kathy, Julien, and Ira headed to the center on Thursday. We were still about several hundred yards from the center when about 20 of the children charged down the dirt road to greet us. Momentum continued to build throughout the day. Karen conducted some of her final interviews, Kathy and Julien taught some Spanish classes, Sofia handled the administrative work and bonded with a variety of students, and Ira did some reading and vocabulary lessons.

Mario and Julie-Anne returned to the center after a productive day, and we finished the day together. Nathan joined us for the walk back to the lodge.

Thursday’s dinner at the lodge featured Nathan, who earned the African Education Program’s first college scholarship. Nathan, 27, graduates from the Zambian College of Agriculture next month and he’s already begun his career at Alliance Ginnerics as the assistant area manager for Zambia’s Central Province. His father, Billiard, is a farmer, as well as a retired soldier, and Nathan said it means a lot to help his fellow Zambians.

“It is very important to help farmers in rural areas,” Nathan said. “My parents also came from rural areas, and someone had to show them what to do.”

Nathan mostly deals in cotton in his new position and provides loans to farmers. He received an opportunity from AEP, but he also made the most of it. During his college career, he overcame a bout of tuberculosis and the theft of many of his belongings. In addition to going to class and studying, he washed carpets, did landscaping, and mixed cement blocks.

“What I am today, is because of AEP,” Nathan said.

Joining Nathan at dinner with us were Bernard, Bernard, and Teddy. They were enjoyable and articulate guests, and it’s likely they’ll also be AEP success stories.