Educating for a positive change
Today (June 5) was my first visit to the Well Spring of Faith and Hope Community School, and it was an incredible experience. I got to the Kalikiliki compound around 10:30 a.m. and stayed there until around 1 p.m.
I met the headmaster and the three teachers that work at the school.
The first group of children I met was the seventh grade class followed by the first/third grade class and then finally fifth grade. Different grades come to school at different times throughout the day, and the school runs year round. The school has three classrooms, and the first and third graders share a classroom. Each room has a chalkboard and small benches the children sit on while being instructed. Two of the classrooms are connected, and there is no door to separate the noise between the two. The third classroom stands by itself and has two chalkboards in it.
In the grade first/third room, the nursery school kids sit on a mat in the back corner of the room and learn the alphabet. The teachers circulate themselves among the three rooms and many times one teacher is in charge of two classes. The school itself is made of cement bricks, and the roof is a sheet of metal. There is no electricity or running water available at the school, and the bathroom is a small hut covered with African mats.
I went to each class when I arrived and met all of the morning children. When I wrote my name on the board, they told me my name was Soli, which is a language used mainly in Lusaka, Zambia. They said my name was Soli because the “i’s” in my first and last name are pronounced as if they were “e’s”. The first teacher I met handed over his chalk and asked me to teach the minute I walked into his classroom. This was really overwhelming at first, and I had to tell him that the first day I was really just there to observe the classes. However, I did end up teaching English later on in the morning.
The students that come to school in the morning are in school from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and then they are done for the day. The seventh grade class is in school from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and they have a break from noon to 2 p.m. The school is very small, and I was told many children on the compound want to go to school there but there is just no room left, which is really sad. The children here know that the one way out of the poverty they live in is to get an education, and I just wish education was possible for all of the children on the compound.
The kids here just need the opportunity for a better life. Every child I have met so far at the school is so eager and willing to learn. These kids walk to school each day, sometimes very far distances, because they honestly love going to school. Many of the students told me today they want to be a student at a university one day. Even the teachers were telling me how badly they want the chance at a better life and would like to move to the U.S. in the future.
Children are children, no matter where you are in the world, and they all have hopes, dreams, and goals for a bright future. I wish it was less of a struggle for the children I have met on the Kalikiliki compound, because they cannot help the environment that they were born into. All they need is love and support from people around the world to continue their education and make a better life for themselves. I found out it only costs $200 a year to support a child’s educational, nutritional, and medical needs for an entire year.
My first day at the school in Kalikiliki was an eye-opening experience to me, because seeing the poverty up close was like nothing I had ever experienced before in my entire life. The living conditions that are apparent on the compound really do take your breath away. I keep thinking back to the commercials we see on TV in the United States to sponsor a child in Africa and after witnessing it, the effects of poverty on this population truly are just as bad, if not worse than the commercials make them out to be.
I went to a graduation ceremony here the other night at the American International School of Lusaka where my host family’s children go to school. The director of the school gave a really remarkable speech. He was talking about how there are so many injustices in our world, and there are problems that need to be solved everywhere you turn, but instead of constantly fighting the injustices and problems alike, you just need to put as much love into them as you can. And after you put as much love as you can into the injustices you see in the world around you, just keeping putting more and more of your heart out there until you make a change. There are thousands of children in the world that are poverty stricken, but by helping all of them get the education they need, we can make a positive change in our world.
Well Spring may only be capable of educating 100 children right now, but for the time being, that’s making a difference in 100 lives, and when the resources are there to educate more children, more lives will be changed for the better.