Yesterday was huge.

We took this morning to work with Theresa on summarizing and typing up all we had seen, incorporating it into our notes thus far. It is fun watching this process unfold, each day a little more, the understanding a little deeper.

We are very aware that Saturday will soon be upon us. We are practicing being HERE, enjoying our final days, and making sure we are covering the items that will be most supportive to the team going forward.

Just as we arrived at the property great torrents of rain began. As soon as the car pulled up, two escorts with umbrellas ran out to shepherd us to the porch. Such a moment of taking-care!

Veronica was one of our escorts.

When it rains that hard, people take cover—wherever they can. And it goes without saying that what’s yours is mine. It is common for someone to take shelter on a stranger’s porch to wait out the heavy rain. Because the Living Compassion property is right next to the cemetery, a number of people attending a funeral had come for cover on the porch.

Once the heaviest rain had passed, people moved on.

And the chickens came back out to continue lunch.

It was the afternoon and the girls had begun to gather for the program.

Working on ‘plaiting’ (braiding hair) is a favorite pastime. The infinite varieties are amazing!

As a quorum arrived, the teachers began taking them into their grade-level groups.

A bit more plaiting for the grade 7s as they wait for the rest of their colleagues to arrive

While the girls began their academic work for the day, we met with some of the teachers to go over the agreements for the girls program. As folks reviewed them, we asked if they thought the agreements were on the right track. “Everyone can agree,” Veronica offered, “These agreements are very encouraging. They will benefit everyone!” Yea.

Veronica reviewing the agreements

Theresa had a very important awareness overnight—ensuring the girls taking exams had the best support possible, and that attention must be paid to how the teachers are paired with the girls. At the end of the year, the grade 7 students will sit for formal exams they must pass to enter grade 8, and the grade 9 students, for grade 10. We need our strongest teachers in these positions, those with experience in stewarding students through that process. Given that, we talked about Charles being with the grade 9s. To work together to take grade 7s, we thought about Malila, the new teacher about to come on board; Joy who has proven herself to be very dedicated; and Theresa, whose English is by far the best on the team. As we have noted, grade 7 is our largest group with 15 girls so we decided we need a team approach here.

Theresa laid out her proposal for grade level assignments, and there seemed complete consensus that the plan was a good one. Charles, with the grade 9s, will be in one of the ‘high stakes’ positions. We are putting him there because he has an excellent track record; every single Living Compassion student who has been supported by Charles, grades 7 and 9, has passed the final exams. Wow! As the team teased him that they knew he was up for the challenge, he smiled replying, “It’s a walk-over.” We learned this is the local version of “walk in the park.”

Now for the nailing jello to a tree part of the program…. For every grade level, there are numerous schools the students attend. For example, if you are in grade 9, you might be at Lubuto Secondary School, Milemu School, or Chiluba School. Each school can follow a slightly different schedule. And, of course, the teachers have the pre-school children they work with and extra lessons for all grade levels, both boys and girls. Okay, time to make timetables to account for all of that!

Working out the weekly timetables

A bit later, as we were finishing up that process, Theresa walked back into the room. “Bring your camera,” she beckoned. We followed her up to the largest classroom. The girls had been officially dismissed for the day, and we had assumed they were hanging out having a nice social time together. Not so. Silvia, one of the grade 11 students, had written some English work on the chalkboard and was walking the rest of the students through it! Theresa was so excited! This is new.

Silvia teaching her class

Asking for answers to the proposed lesson

Making sure everyone is following

Things are on the move!

Silvia and Mirriam, the two grade 11 girls working with Sreedevi on learning photos and captions, now have a solid way to participate in the project, to learn about being part of something and taking responsibility. We had been sitting with what might be the equivalent for our other two grade 11’s, Ester and Rachel. It dropped in overnight that the new Leap Reader could be perfect. We have shown it to some of the teachers, but no one had been thoroughly trained in it. What if Ester and Rachel were trained and could take on tutoring younger girls in their reading?!

We met with Ester today to find out if she would be interested in that; she emphatically agreed.

Ester learning the Leap Reader

And then a bit of photo fun as we close out the day.

At any given time there are at least a couple of the cooperative team with babies who are still nursing. The babies are cared for at home by a relative and brought to the property when it is time to eat. When Ruth’s daughter, Baby Sophiya (also known as “Peggy”), arrived, the team felt it had been far too long since we musungus practiced carrying a baby on our back.

Ruth, who took her mother Sophiya’s place when Sophiya died a couple of years ago, with Baby Sophiya.

What a treat!

Mirriam, one of our grade 11 journalists, makes sure to get a photo too!

Brenda poses with all but one of her children for a family photo. Aaron, the youngest, was not so sure about this musungu behind the camera!

We took advantage of a lovely afternoon by walking through the community. Theresa drove to Lubuto via the drivable roads, while a big team escorted us as we took the footpaths to meet her. Along the way we saw a past student of Veronica’s. He was in her preschool class and is now in grade two. He was being carried on his mother’s back, drooped over her shoulder. “We are just back from the clinic,” his mother explained to Veronica. “He has malaria.” This is not cause for alarm here, as it is an everyday occurrence. As is the form of transport: a mother carrying her 9-year-old son on her back for a 2-mile walk to the clinic. Given diligent healthcare, and barring complications, he will recover in a few days’ time. Much to be grateful for, everywhere.

We meet up in Lubuto and capture the moment at the end of another gratitude-filled day!