Sunday, January 31, 2010

Farewells, New Beginnings, and Birthdays

This past month has been filled with lots of farewells, new beginnings, and birthdays.


During December all the kids at Boarding School come home and it brings me great joy. However, when January comes they all leave again and it makes me sad. Also, as Zambian government policy when the kids turn 18 they can no longer stay in an orphanage and have to be released to live somewhere else.

I decided to take all the kids that were leaving into town to have lunch, watch a movie, and get some ice cream. I loved spending time with these kids. They’ve all been around for so long and I am always sad to see them go. Fortunately, I still get to chat with them on the phone and we talk about once a week.

Here they are waiting to see the movie:


In the movie theater (we watched the movie Avatar which the boys just loved):


Josephine turned 18 and went to live with an Aunt.


This is Josephine saying goodbye to Nchimunya. It’s always hard to say goodbye because you just never know when you’re going to see someone again.


Dala went back to boarding school (the girls plaited my hair…I kept it in for about three days and then couldn’t handle it anymore).


Moses came to visit on a rainy Saturday. It was sure fun to see him again. I wish he was still living at the farm.


Chi Chi turned 18 and will be going back to boarding school (we just found out she passed her grade 9 tests…hooray!!!). When she’s finished with boarding school she’ll be going to stay with her mom in the Northern Province.


Chi Chi and Choolwe (brother and sister)


The missionaries moved out. I was sad to see them go. However, I do love having control over how clean the house is. I still see them every weekend and last night we went to dinner together. Sure love these girls. They’re the best.


New Beginnings

The school is now opened and has been for the past three weeks. It’s so wonderful. I love it. I love teaching and I especially love teaching these adorable kids. We’re teaching about 25 kids. We have 3 preschool children and then a grade 2 class and a combined grade 4 and 6 class. We had a neighbor boy join us and also one of the workers has 3 children that he brings every day. The first week of school was so fun. I feel like I’ve been consumed by this whole school thing for a year and a half and now it’s finally started. It’s like a dream come true. There are lots of challenges with the school and teaching these kids but they’ve been good challenges and we’re all learning a lot.

We have the kids in school from 8 AM – 4 PM with an hour lunch break at 12 PM. This is a huge adjustment from what they’ve been used to. I’ve spent lots of time in the classrooms here in Zambia and have found that on average they receive about one hour of instruction a day. That’s not an exaggeration. We’ve had to do a lot of training on the proper way to behave in a classroom and how to sit and learn for six hours and an hour study break. There’s still much to be learned and sometimes I feel quite inadequate but again feel so grateful to have this opportunity.

There are three teachers: Jackie who teaches all the math, Betty who teaches the Zambian curriculum and preschool, and I teach reading/language, history and science. We let the kids out early on Fridays for their “sports afternoon” and then we have a teacher’s meeting and I head into town for the weekend. I still cherish my weekends in town and was just called to be the Seminary teacher so I spend my Saturday mornings at the church doing that. I love it.

This is what it looks like every morning. The kids line up and we check to make sure they’ve brushed their teeth, cleaned their nails, combed their hair, cleaned their clothes, and shined their shoes. We then give any announcements and offer a prayer before we start the day. This is a traditional Zambian custom.


This is inside my classroom. The biggest class size I have is 12 and the room is big enough that I can put a semicircle of chairs in the back for reading groups. I love my classroom. It has big open windows that allow plenty of fresh air and also a great view. I love spending time here preparing and getting things ready.


This is the second classroom where Jackie teaches math and Betty teaches the grade 2’s and grade 4&6. Because there are only two classrooms the preschool is done inside the house, along with the study breaks.


Jackie and Betty are fabulous teachers and I’m so grateful to have them. I’ll continue to post updates on the school and how things are going. For now, we’re just plugging along doing our best to give these kids an education.

Another new beginning in my life was my move to the tent underneath the warehouse. I finally decided that I couldn’t handle the cockroaches anymore so I had Innocent put up a tent for me and now I’m almost cockroach free. I say almost because my bed still had cockroaches in it but I think they are slowly dying with all the chemicals I continue to spray on them and traps I’ve set out for them.

I love my little tent and having a bit of solitude at nights.

DSCN1252 DSCN1249 DSCN1250


I love my birthday. It just so happens to be my most favorite day of the whole year. I kept reminding everyone at the farm that it was my birthday and to be sure they got me presents.

I was awakened early by a phone call from my dear friend Suz. I was eager to talk to her and quickly unzipped my tent to take a walk outside and chat.

This is what I saw when I opened my tent. Yep, I was just as confused as you are. Outside my tent were a bunch of plates, cups, bowls, and containers filled with water. I wasn’t sure when they had been placed there and frankly I wasn’t sure why they were there. I knew it had something to do with my birthday but wasn’t sure what.


I chatted with Suz for about an hour and then came back to find all the culprits hanging around my tent. They all sang a nice and loud Happy Birthday to me and I was so grateful for the birthday wishes. I later found out that it’s Zambian culture to throw water on the birthday girl/boy and that’s exactly the point of all the water outside my tent. It was meant to be a trap and I was supposed to step into it. Thankfully nobody poured water on me but they certainly tried.


My family called me after that and wished me a happy birthday. It sure was fun to talk with them.

At lunch, Ethel and Nchimunya gave me their gifts. They gave me a card that all the girls had signed. It was so thoughtful it made me cry.


They also bought me little cakes, white and chocolate. I was so sad that I wouldn’t get one of Stephanie’s fabulous cakes for my birthday and didn’t think I would get any cake so I was pleasantly surprised when I unwrapped my gift and saw that I would end up getting cake for my birthday after all.


During school the kids were great and kept wishing me a happy birthday. After school while I was teaching the grade 7’s the boys brought me this nice beautiful bowl full of mangoes and sang me happy birthday. It made me so happy. I love mangoes and thought it was so thoughtful of them to go and pluck some for me and bring them to me as a present.


I also got many great birthday wishes from home. I love facebook on my birthday because it does the reminding for me. Heidi took a picture of the kids holding a sign that said happy birthday (again it made me cry). And Stephanie sent me 33 emails with 33 reasons for why she loved me. How awesome is that? I also heard from all three of my brothers.

What a fabulous day!!! I love birthdays and this one was wonderful.


Zach and Jen and Elizabeth said...

Happy Birthday (a little late). I love reading everything you're doing. It is all so amazing. :) It seems like you and the kids have a great time! I loved the "water trap."

Kari said...

Happy Birthday Heather! I really enjoyed reading about your other life in Africa. It is inspiring and wonderful and I know you are so happy! Keep updating!!

Lady Fox said...

Glad you had such a fun birthday! I loved the water trap...I think I might have to try that one out. The school looks great and I bet the kids love having you as a teacher. Pretty cool that this dream of yours is really happening.

Anonymous said...


You are amazing!! And, I love reading of the vision and love you have for these people. Thank you for sharing and for inspiring the rest of us!

haylie said...

Hi Heather,

First, (very late) Happy Birthday. We love you and you're amazing.

Second, I just wanted to let you know that Ross, Annette and I are throwing an Olympics Opening Ceremony party this weekend and if you lived in this hemisphere you'd totally be invited. Shoot, you know what? You're invited anyway.


Haylie and Ross

Stephanie said...

I'm not sure why neither Heidi or I commented on this. I LOVE seeing pictures. Especially of that school. Keep taking them!