Discovering Ways to Help: Make It Your Own

The running club starts off for a 5k jog.

The running club starts off for a 5k jog.

As I learned more about Zambia, I realized that there are many ways for different people to get involved with the African Education Program (AEP) and make the trip meaningful on a personal level. Julie-Anne discussed community activities to partake in and we brainstormed some new ideas. I knew that pulling out my teaching supplies and coordinating lessons, particularly for the youngest members at the Amos Youth Centre, would be a top way to participate.

Having already agreed to assist with teaching and curriculum development, I thought about other ways to help. I didn’t just want to be present, I wanted to integrate myself within the community and provide a service that would have an impact lasting longer than my two week stay. I enjoy running and hiking, so Julie-Anne and I decided that outdoor activities, such as a running group, would be a great idea to promote healthy habits and foster some great bonding. In addition, the thought to donate gently used running sneakers stemmed from the running group idea! I have always loved running and was eager to start asking around for shoes and any other donations people felt compelled to provide.

As the trip departure date approaches, I continue to gather running shoes, clothes and school supplies for the students. I received donations from friends, family, strangers and even my yoga instructor who mentioned the initiative to her students. The effort entailed a lot of work, but it excited us and we knew that everything would be well-received by all involved.

Visiting Zambia is a trip that you can make your own. Not everyone has the time or resources to do what I’m doing, but there’s no specific requirement or path you need to follow. What activities do you enjoy? What excites you? How can you help others within your own capacity? These are the questions you can ask yourself to guide your trip and ultimately make a lasting impact on yourself and the community.