Friends, French and Fritas

Our nine-person team has seamlessly found its vibe here in Kafue. Today seemed like routine day and as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened. It’s almost as if we have become a part of the Amos Youth Center’s daily routine. And to a certain extent, we have. The day began with a typical Karen “Sunshine” wake up call. This usually involves a bright and loving Karen gently knocking at your door telling you the time has come to get to work. If her gentle whispers don’t wake you up on time, you can usually hear Mama Mario somewhere in the background, listing off the tasks we need to complete for the day ahead.

The team walked to the center and right at the turn into the Shikoswe neighborhood, we weregreeted by Steve, Elijah, and their big smiles.  These boys are quickly becoming favorites. They are rarely without the other and are absolute best friends. Today, these best friends decided to share one of the few pairs of shoes they owned. Steve divulged, “Out of all my friends, I love this guy more.” Recently, these two have decided to teach a few of us important Nyanja (the local language) words. Although we can’t determine exactly how helpful most of these terms will be in a real life setting, learning the Nyanja words for “big” and “wait” tend to come in handy when you are blowing bubbles to a group of 20 kids.

At the center, every one of us has found their niche. Carly is usually surrounded by at least ten young kids at a time making friendship bracelets, coloring, or simply playing yard games. Karen, Sofia, and Susan handle the interviews for both the new and returning students applying for sponsorship. While this may seem like a mundane and administrative task, the interviews provide an insight into the student’s life and what motivates their studies. One of the most interesting questions in this process is: “Who do you admire the most?” Some children say world leaders like the Zambian President, Michael Chilufya Sata, or Barack Obama; others say singing stars like Mariah Carey or T.I. Some think more locally and say that they admire Mama Mario or Julie-Anne. But perhaps the most touching reply to this question is: my sponsors. One student explained, “They’ve never met me and yet, they’re making all my dreams come true.” It’d be tough to beat a hero like that.

Julien has become a mathematician of sorts. He teaches math for grades 9-12 and his students have taken a liking to his particular à la French delivery of math lessons. Today, Julien decided to take a break and one of the students assumed the role of French math teacher. “Did you find the correct ahhhhn-sir (answer)? Do we all cahn-cur (concur)?” they mimicked with exaggerated French accents. Being the strict teacher that he is, Julien thought to make this a teachable moment. He told the student to face the corner, place his hands behind his back, and with a book on top of his head, repeat, “I am a donkey.” The class immediately burst into roaring laughter.

Julie-Anne and Kathy began collecting footage to create a new AEP video through a series of interviews.  They interviewed students who had been with AEP for many years and are now very close to their graduation. On one of these interviews, they visited Ray’s home. Ray’s aunty gave them a tour of the home and proudly showed off their very lush and green garden.

Given the busy day, we ended with a typical Zambian treat, fritas, which are simply put, fried dough balls of deliciousness. To cap off the night, he gang headed to dinner beside the Zambezi River.