Saturday morning brought lots of excitement! The first workshop for the girls program was planned for the day.

We took a different route into Kantolomba than usual because, apparently, someone of importance was flying into Ndola, and many of the roads on our normal route were blocked off. We got to see a different side of Ndola, and this one happened to take us right in front of Mwanawasa stadium where Chipolopolo, the national soccer team, plays. From a distance it is quite lovely – up close, it is amazing! Theresa remarked that the children had a great time on a field trip they took there a couple of years ago.

As we arrived at the property, little faces peeked out of rooms and behind poles to greet us. We saw that Martha had already arrived and started the workshop. We gathered our things and quickly went into the room. There were 63 girls there! This was quite powerful to see. It’s hard to imagine that many girls in the United States would show up voluntarily to school on a Saturday; so to have 63 of them willing to be there, we project, demonstrated the need for something more positive and community-based to participate in.

Martha spoke to the girls about the importance of courtesy and how to address someone in different situations. For example, when to say “sorry” or “forgive me,” and how to say “thank you” and “excuse me.” After her discussion, some of the girls stood up and gave examples of when they would use those phrases.

Martha takes the lead for the workshop.

English phrases to practice courtesy

Rachael, one of the grade 11 girls, gives an example of when to use one of the phrases.

Then we discussed a vision for the future. To start off, Theresa, Martha and Joy each shared a story of how they came to be where they are and what motivated them. Theresa spoke about her mother’s commitment to her being as educated as possible. Martha spoke about being inspired by a neighbor, a successful accountant, and what the family was doing and was able to have—good food, a car, etc. Joy spoke about her dedication to her education and shared something we were not aware of! Joy said she had failed her Grade 12 exams three times, but she kept studying and studying and eventually passed. It was a wonderful example of staying committed, no matter what. It is powerful to see Joy now assisting to run the girls program in Kantolomba!

Theresa tells her story to the girls.

Next Martha

And Joy

Next, it was the girls’ turn. What did they envision for their future? We asked each girl to write down what she wanted to be and how she was going to do it and then to draw a picture of herself in that profession. After disbursement of paper, pens, and regular and colored pencils they were off!

Mary Mwansa, in grade 8, begins her vision paper.

Benendette takes great care with her drawing.

The girls draw photos of themselves in their future profession. It’s fun to see how colorful their clothing is! Many stylish nurses!

Many of the older girls jumped into the project, quickly writing their vision for the future. Some girls still had blank papers half an hour later. We practiced “panono, panono,” making sure each girl was given the space and time to go at her own pace. No rush. We were all willing to sit, support and wait! Soon the girls who needed it were asking for extra help. Once everyone was done, we gathered the papers and shared with the girls that their papers would be laminated and returned to them. It was heart-warming to see each girl’s plan, some short and sweet, others specific and detailed!

Dorcus shows us that she wants to be a nurse, and in order to do so she will study hard.

Susan also wants to be a doctor or a nurse!

Karen also wants to be a nurse! She writes that she will need to learn how to speak English, and if she finishes school she will go to college.

Nurse is a popular profession among the girls.

Rachael goes into more detail about what is required to be a nurse. She wants to work at Ndola Central Hospital and realizes that she needs to study in specific subjects and make sure she gets enough points on her Grade 12 exams.

This one was particularly touching. Janepher wants to be a doctor. She wrote that a friend of hers told her to change her career, but her heart told her no and that God will help her. How powerful to stay committed to her vision for herself, no matter what others have said.

Mirriam, another Grade 11 girl, realizes how much commitment it takes to be a nurse. She wrote down over 7 things she must do to achieve that dream.

All of the girls and teachers of the girls program

With big smiles, they are each on their way to success!

Even the teachers talked about their visions. Ethel wants to continue to be a teacher so she can help others in studying.

While lunch was being readied for the team, it was time to hand out the kwacha. Each Saturday, girls officially enrolled in the program receive a small stipend. The stipend is a way of honoring the girls’ willingness to stay committed to the principles of the program, as well as to give them an experience of having the means to provide for themselves. When you are 13 years old and your friends are dropping out of school, hanging out with boys, getting pregnant, etc., it can be hard to stay committed to a “better future” that is, at best, 9 years down the road after finishing grade 12 and continuing to study a profession. We recognized that a tangible experience of what that hard work makes possible could go a long way towards encouragement to stay the course. The girls use the stipend for personal needs such as lotion, bathing and laundry soap, socks, shoes… all things their families are not able to provide.

Before the day ends, the girls receive their weekly kwacha. Joy and Josephine keep track of it.

It was then time for the adults to eat and go back to Castle Lodge, right in time for some serious downpour! A very fulfilling Saturday at the Living Compassion site with the girls programs. A great success!