Reflections of a life changing experience

Reflections of a life changing experience

Lisa Lapina
To say the least, teaching in Africa this summer completely changed my life. The children I met and the experiences I was a part of really changed my outlook on education. I'm sad to have left Zambia, but a part of me will always be with the children I met this summer. It was incredibly hard to say goodbye to people who unknowingly impacted my life for good.

Coming back to the United States has been one of the hardest transformations I have ever been through. Immediately after getting off the plane, I didn’t remotely feel okay, I felt insanely guilty and images of poverty were rapidly stirring through my mind. Attempting to get settled into my own house, in a warm bed at night, with food in the refrigerator and clothing in my closet was difficult beyond belief. I just felt like I couldn’t enjoy being home remembering all of the orphans who were merely living with the clothes on their back and if they were lucky, shoes on their feet.

I could barely eat without thinking about the kids I met in Africa who got one meal a day, if that, and could not focus in school due to hunger. It has taken me months to recover from witnessing the realities of poverty and to this day I still get sad thinking about the suffering that goes on around the world.

The children at the WellSpring of Faith and Hope Community School are almost all orphaned children, either having lost one or both of their parents to diseases like malaria and tuberculosis. The school was started by missionaries, Charles and Sarah West, after Sarah witnessed a young orphan girl being passed from family to family in a community because no one could keep her for an extended period of time due to food shortages. The little girl had no stable home, and that alone completely broke Sarah’s heart. She decided to start a community school/orphanage project in Zambia and the WellSpring of Faith and Hope dream became a reality.

Currently, the school is situated in Kahlikiliki, a compound region outside of the capital city of Lusaka, Zambia. Sarah and Charles have purchased a large sum of land in the village of Chongwe two hours away from where they live, where eventually the school will be moved to and become a permanent orphanage for all the children.

The school will have four buildings for the children to live in and each will have a live-in house mother from the village to take care of the children living there. The teachers will live on site and teach the children every day. There will be a couple classrooms so that the children can be divided into grade levels. The orphanage will also have a library full of donated books, available for use by all members of the community. he grounds of the orphanage will have a well for children to get fresh drinking water as well as livestock and crops for them to raise and eat as needed.

Sarah and Charles have been working hard to make the orphanage in Chongwe a reality for the orphaned children. The first building has been constructed and a metal roof is currently being attached. I saw the building this summer, constructed of handmade clay bricks. The only problem with building the orphanage in Chongwe is that the process is very slow, mainly due to lack of funding.

I want to share with everyone at Bloomsburg University what I witnessed this summer, and empower students here to help make a difference. If every student on Bloomsburg’s campus were to donate just one dollar, the orphaned children at the WellSpring of Faith and Hope Community School in Zambia would finally have a place to call their own. They would no longer be wandering from house to house in search of food or shelter; they would be able to have a bed of their own, in a safe environment, all the while supporting their educational needs.

If their basic needs for living can be met, they can finally have some hope of getting out of the poverty stricken lifestyle they live in today. One dollar from every Bloomsburg student and faculty member would raise approximately $10,000 for the orphanage. The missionaries could use the money to build the homes for the kids, classrooms, a library, food, and resources for the school in Chongwe.

It is my hope I can open the eyes of everyone I come across on campus that together we can support a common goal to make lives a little better for families and children around the world that are suffering because of poverty. If Bloomsburg University faculty, staff, and students came together we could totally transform the lives of hundreds of children, and all it would take would be one dollar out of your wallet.

Do you think this cause is worth it? If not, try not eating for an entire day, walk around on gravel for a few hours without shoes, stand out in the cold without a sweatshirt, or think about how different your life would be if you could not read. Children around the world suffer every day, and we may not be able to completely stop the suffering, but together we can give hope. Please contact me in the event that you or your organization are interested in raising money or have an idea of how to fundraise for the orphanage. Please support this amazing cause and look for donation tables in November on the quad and outside of the Union.

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