We were no longer "in Kansas"

The first thing that we did for our trip to Zambia with the African Education Program was to get together as a team.  There are six of us, Ben (17), Scott (26), Julie-Anne (26), Kevin (26), Marie-Odile (not a day over 25), and Karen (not a day over 25).  Scott, Marie-Odile and Julie-Anne are staying for three weeks, Ben and Kevin are staying for two-and-a-half, and Karen is staying for four months, and after a month back home, she is staying for good.  On the morning of the 2nd, Marie-Odile, Ben, Karen, Scott and Kevin took a van to the Washington DC airport, where we met Julie-Anne.  After nine hours of flight, our first stop was in Amsterdam. We mulled around the airport, half dazed and before we knew it, we were back in the plane, headed to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. 12 hours later, we had arrived. Although it was pitch black, our other senses indicated that we were no longer “in Kansas.” Warmly greet by Marie-Odile, Karen and Julie-Anne’s favorite drivers, we stuffed three small cars with our 15 bags. The drive to Kafue usually takes about 45 minutes at this time of night. But major roadwork, deviations through dirt roads, and slow moving trucks more than doubled the journey. When we finally reached our final destination, our friend Nate’s house (all the lodges are booked for a Ministry of Health conference for the next week).  It was now two in the morning everybody was ready for a goodnight’s sleep.

On Sunday the 4th, we all woke up late and took an hour-long walk to the Amos Youth Center, where we will be helping children with schoolwork and hanging out for the next couple weeks. Ben, Scott, Kevin are Zambia novices, so they met with AYC’s leaders Agnes, Fred and Mommy Kerry.

Upon our return to our home base, fresh goat (alive hours earlier) was on the bbq and our welcoming party was underway. It was Ben’s birthday (he turned 17) and he was given a truly traditional Zambian birthday celebration.

Today we walked to the center again and were greeted by kids of all ages.  Some of the younger children just play outside for most of the day, and the older ones who are in school were studying.  Scott is a physics teacher in West Chester, PA, so he is helping some of the 10th-12th graders with math and physics.  Bernard, an 11th grader, said, “Scott is a very, very good teacher.” The lunch break was short, and Scott was summonsed back into his classroom by the students, eager to keep learning.

Ben has been doing a variety of things today, he helped Scott supervise the students that he was teaching, and went over some of the math that they’re currently studying.  He then played with some of the younger kids, and read to them for a while.  Ben, Scott and Kevin all had their first taste of the Zambia’s staple food, Nshima, a corn paste which was served with tofu and greens. It was surprisingly tasty!

Kevin left the center in the morning with Fred, AYC’s project manager, and a carpenter, to buy wood to build a new bookshelf for the center.  They had to go to three different stores to get the necessary supplies for the shelf (there is no Home Depot in Kafue!) and then rented a truck to take everything back to the center.

Later, Ben helped students with their English work, going over tenses and helping them write an outline for an essay.  And that’s where we are now.

Signing off.

The AEP Volunteer Team