By Betty Trummel
Exactly one month ago, the A to Z Literacy team left Zambia and headed for home. I felt this was my best experience yet in Zambia with A to Z, for a variety of reasons. Reflecting back on my experiences, here are some key moments/points:
I met so many new inspirational people of all ages. I felt like I had more time to develop deeper connections with the teachers, our older students, and other members of the local community. One young man, Perrykent Nkole, truly wowed me with his articulate and gentle voice, and his recently published book…Birds of Different Feathers.
The Zonal Inset at the School of Hope in the rural region north of Lusaka was another fantastic learning experience for everyone involved. Hearing what teachers in Zambia had to tell about their challenging teaching situations; and witnessing their enthusiasm for education despite these challenges, was highly motivational. There were opportunities to share great lessons as well as learn from our Zambian partners.
One of the most memorable highlights for me, was working on writing with students and teachers at Shine Zambia Reading Academy. Our “community walks” through the compounds surrounding Shine Zambia and the conversations that took place before, during and after these walks were key drivers in helping the students tell their story, resulting in the first personal narratives these children had ever written. I’ve gathered two snippets of writing to share with you. These children are learning to tell their own story through pictures and words. I was so proud of the level 2 students at Shine!
“My name is Blessing. I am ten years old. I live with my mother’s sister. I have two brothers and four sisters. I eat good food. In the morning I eat bread and drink tea. In the afternoons I eat nshima and fish but sometimes we eat rice, and I drink clean water. If we want to fetch water we fetch it from the tap. But if we want to buy charcoal we buy it from the market. If we want to buy mealie meal and eggs we buy them from the shops.
This community is very dirty because people throw them (trash) everywhere. They think that when cholera comes and when rain rains that cholera will not kill them, it will just pass and go to their neighbors.”
(Students were using the photos they took on our community walks to give them ideas for their writing. This has been a great way to get the students started on telling their own story.)
“Hi, my name is Faith.” I live in Kalikiliki. I am twelve years old. I like our community. We help each other with fetching water, with working and cooking. We buy vegetables at the market, sometimes at the shops. We like eating together and I live with my mother. We buy mealie meal at the shops and we sometimes work together to make money. We wash clothes together.”