It’s our first day at the Living Compassion property! This is Scott’s first time in Zambia, and he was welcomed with the traditional greeting. First, the kids waited for us to exit our vehicle.

This boy is catching up with his friends to find out what all the commotion is about!

Each Living Compassion staff person greets us, one by one, embracing lightly on the right side, then the left side, as the welcome song begins with soul and passion. Translating the words from Bemba, Theresa related the song begins with “Welcome, welcome,” and then asks, “How are the people from where you came?” Not only is there an amazing greeting for their guests, including someone they have never met, they are also asking how the guest’s family and community are. A beautiful experience of the African word “ubuntu,” which translates into “humanity,” “universal bond” or “oneness.”

Singing and clapping as the sun shines and the rain pours!

After the greetings, we jumped right in.

Jen and Theresa beginning to strategize

It was lovely to have Life interrupt our work to remind us to enjoy what is here and now in the form of Josephine bringing baby Peace to meet us, a reminder to keep the attitude of mind of nothing wrong, presence, and peace!

Veteran readers may remember that Josephine is a master of crochet. What a cute hat and coat! Peace is checking out the photographer!

It’s mealtime and part of the greeting is to introduce the new person to the “how” of feeding 1000 children each day. Peter, the carpenter/gardener, and Elias, the gardener, led Scott to where lunch is made.

Peter ahead and Elias looking back.

The food is made in a relatively small brick building that is noticeably warm from the charcoal fires and dimly lit by sunlight coming through small slits in the bricks. First the ladies brought out the river paddle-sized stirring spoon and demonstrated how to stir the giant pots of nshima (made from maize flour).

After some giggles and laughs at the rookie pot stirrer, the pros took back over, demonstrating the subtleties of slow wide turns, rolling and folding and quick up and down movements, all transforming the daily staple into a beautiful, smooth paste, ready to be cooled and then eaten. They will make several pots over the morning and afternoon.

Susan finishing the nshima

At Living Compassion, nshima is served with a protein and a vegetable. One of the proteins is peanut butter, the making of which includes roasting the nuts, removing the skins and then mashing them.

Scott gets his try at grinding the peanuts with a giant pestle and mortar. Everything is big in this daily cooking!

Florence with the peanuts ready to be ground further

Peter and Elias playing the role of tour guides

Next we moved to the dining hall where some students were eating. Today, along with nshima there were soya chunks (soy) and greens. For many of the students, this is their only meal of the day.

Students being served

Eating lunch

We made our way to see the classrooms and the students, meeting some new friends along the way!

Edna with Martha smiling in the background

Bruce! (the fellow in the middle with his hand reaching towards the camera) As we walked into Josephine’s first grade class, our dear old friend Bruce clapped his hands together loudly, outstretched his arms and greeted us with a grand shout! Bruce has been a “naughty” fireball since he was teeny tiny. He is HIV positive and, though seemingly healthy now, has grown only a little in the years we have known him.

It is a great pleasure to see the property looking as beautiful as ever. There are a few changes since we were last here. In an effort to make an area more conducive to studying, the team converted an old classroom into the dining hall to keep the noise of lunch confined. It is still used as a preschool room in the early morning hours, and at 11am gets a good scrub down before it begins hosting a steady stream of 1,000 diners over the course of the next several hours.

The new dining room

Nature has facilitated some changes as well. An old, no longer in use house on the property came down in one of the very heavy rains. This saved us some work as we have been discussing the best use of this part of the property once that old house was taken down.

It is amazing how much space has opened up with that very small structure down. Exciting to consider what might stand there next!

Scott made a valiant attempt to take a quick break to eat his own meal but was soon discovered by a crew of faces peering into the window, too cute to resist. A raucous session ensued of taking photos and instantly getting to see the images.

Scott’s abandoned lunch

Digital cameras are an amazing invention!

Back on the “studying” side of the property we found Ethel with the 7th graders in the Girls Program. Seventh grade is a major milestone for students in Zambia. At the end of this year they will sit for their first national standard exam. Those who pass move on the grade 8; those who don’t repeat grade 7.

Ethel at the helm

Marion (Josephine’s oldest child) and Ruth. Truly amazing that these girls are in grade 7! These children, whom we have known since they were tiny and have seen go through so much, are becoming young women.

Before we leave for the day we were treated to a spontaneous performance of “Left and right, forward and back,” one of the songs in the English learning program Sister Phil introduced several years back.

With no prompting from anyone, Edna breaks into song and dance—such a fabulous way to learn a language!

Tukamanana milo! “We shall see you tomorrow” in Bemba.