By Pat Kelly
Here in the slums of Ibex Hill, Kalikiliki and Mtendere, where “Poverty” is your middle name and “no way out” rides in your back pocket, there is a place.
It’s a place where discipline and respect abound, where children summon all they can to come to school and work diligently for nearly six hours on empty stomachs.
Teachers are miracle workers creating something out of virtually nothing. They carry to each class some tattered textbooks, a piece of chalk and a plan.
From that plan, fires are ignited and sparks fly, carrying off into the air children’s wishes for a career, repayment to families for their support and service to others in Zambia. That’s the focus of Shine Zambia Reading academy- allowing impoverished youngsters to shine to their best ability.
By Betty Trummel
When I first visited Shine Zambia Reading Academy four years ago, it was a fledgling school with three teachers and classrooms (a fourth room was used as the kitchen and storage area). Fast forward to June 2014…this school has blossomed into an incredible garden of learning. With six classrooms, a gathering hall, staff room, office, two staff bathrooms and bathrooms for the children, and a spacious library, Shine has tripled its footprint on this piece of land in the compounds of Lusaka.
The staff of three teachers has multiplied into nine, and there’s a full-time librarian. The library not only serves the school teachers and children at Shine, but is open to the community as well. Many former Shine students return throughout each week to use the library as a place to do homework and study.
Teachers have more materials to use for their lessons, and they are very attentive to the needs of the vulnerable children who attend Shine. These educators are eager to keep learning, and so are the children. Students often arrive early and stay late to read and play educational games in the library.
The food program is still in place, with each child being served fortified porridge on a daily basis. A to Z Literacy Movement continues to raise funds to contribute to the cost of the food program and teacher’s salaries.
Things that haven’t changed include the smiles we are greeted with each day. The students work hard and demonstrate how much they want to be at Shine. In the midst of incredible odds stacked against them, they appreciate this opportunity to go to school and to keep learning.