Saturday is the only day of the week the girls in the Girls Program are in one place at the same time. Being in six different grades (7-12) and about half a dozen different schools, their timetables vary during the week. Saturday is a joyous time of everyone coming together for all kinds of activities.
In addition to the girls, all 1,000 children come to the property on Saturday to eat. When we arrived today, we got the full, small-people welcome! As they hear the car approaching, they come running from all corners. Someone opens the gate for us, and as the dozens and dozens of little bodies gather, Theresa always exclaims with a huge smile on her face, “You are in trouble!” It’s our favorite kind of trouble!
The welcome party
The welcome greeting!
Clambering for a front row seat
Instead of Where’s Waldo, we play Where’s Bruce!
Just as we were heading to join the girls in the Girls Program, Theresa called us over. She was standing next to a lovely woman with a baby on her back. “This is Loveness’s mother,” Theresa explained as we approached. “She is so grateful for all Living Compassion has done for her daughter.” Loveness is the one we told you about in Friday’s blog who refused to go near the bars when her mother asked her to get some mealie meal. Bana Loveness (we haven’t learned her personal name yet—any adult Zambian, whether female or male, is most often called ‘mother of…’ or ‘father of…’ their first born child) gave us a beautiful piece of chitenge as a show of her gratitude. What a tremendous honor.
Theresa with Loveness’s mom
Little Cheri, center in the butterfly t-shirt. Josephine, her mom, tells us Little Cheri insists she must see her namesake, Mama Cheri. We have a date to show her some photos.
On our way to join the girls, we found Eunice, Josephine’s youngest until just a few months ago when baby Peace was born.
After overcoming her shyness of the visitors, she came with us for a bit and then decided to go back to mom and waved goodbye.
When we joined the Girls Program, Joy was working with them on mathematics. She had asked the girls to give her a problem from their schoolwork that week that they did not understand. Joy then went through those problems on the board with the whole group. It was fun to watch her skillful teaching techniques. They were multiplying decimals, and once they had carefully completed the multiplication together and had an answer, she asked for a show of hands. “How many think we have the correct answer?” A few hands went up. “How many think we do not have the correct answer?” Most hands went up. “Why not?” “We are missing the decimal point,” went up a large chorus.
Joy working on the multiplication
Yesterday we stumbled on a fun idea after our reading adventure with the girls. We thought of instituting a “Word of the Day.” What if each girl, each member of staff and each guest from the United States learns at least one new word every day? We realized it could be a simple yet powerful idea to institute. All we need do is ask each other each morning, “What is your word of the day?” How fun. And even more than the content of learning a new word (which, compounded over time, is going to be very powerful in itself), this will go a long way towards building a culture of consistency, persistence, and willingness to persevere long after the newness of it has worn off.
As Joy was wrapping up with the girls, we segued to asking them about the books they had started reading yesterday. A number of girls had looked up words they did not know and were prepared to come to the board and write a word along with its definition. Quite impressive!
Meditation was one of our new words!
Knowing that we all learn better when the whole body is involved, we had much fun finding movements for each new word. Jen took the lead, putting her hands in the air, each one at a different height, bending slightly at the waist and presenting her Bemba word of the day—ichimuti (tree). This got big laughs and broke the ice for the girls to start sharing their words and offer movements to accompany. “Amazing” was paired with opening our arms wide, leaning forward and putting our mouths in an expression of… well, amazement! “Population” was pointing a finger outward and counting people around us.
For summary, we held our hands out and close together to demonstrate making something “condensed.”
Winding down on our vocabulary lesson, we all decided it was time for some good, old singing and dancing. There is nothing more fun than singing and dancing in Kantolomba!
What great fun even to watch from the windows!
Moving quickly and very low light made for blurry photos with poor quality but we thought they conveyed the energy of the fun so we included them!
What a tremendous amount of fun!
As we sat and rested a bit before leaving, we were treated to a heartwarming story. Veronica smiled at one point and out of nowhere commented, “Mama Cheri, I love her.” We smiled. “I learned a very important lesson from Mama Cheri many years back.” “What’s that?” we asked. She relayed her account of when we were all discussing the color of the interior of the new building. “I assumed we would just be bringing people in to paint,” recalled Veronica. “But Mama Cheri said, ‘No, we will paint.’” And we did. On a Saturday the entire team, U.S. and Zambian, donned our work clothes, brought in all the necessary supplies and painted for the whole day. It was fun to relive that day in Veronica’s retelling. We went on to have a discussion of the joys of participation and how contributing with your own two hands makes a place home in a way nothing else does.
A lovely reminder at the end of a beautiful day of participation.