Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Endeavor

This is the third blog post on a series about our trip to Zambia.
To read the first two posts click below:
The Beautiful
The Hard

Zambia, the butterfly-shaped country (light blue on this map) about 3 up from the bottom.

Over a decade ago Lifesong School in Zambia had it's beginnings in a small blue church building in the middle of the compound in Garneton.

In the time since, it has grown to a campus, a farm, and now, soon a vocational school.

In just the past couple years boarding homes (Student Life Centre) have been set up.  Since all the children at Lifesong school come from the compound, they return to the compound each evening. This means little to no light to read by, no running water, and often loud, ruckus music and people right outside in the streets. It can be difficult for children to get homework done, let along a good night's sleep.

So. boarding has been made available to students who are in grades 8-12. They live in the homes (boys' housing is in a separate location than the girls' housing) with a married couple who can model healthy marriage and family relationships.
Sign outside Girls' Boarding

Bedroom set up in the Student Life Centre

On Wednesday nights the students from boarding get together for Ykublious. Meaning: Planting Seeds. Praise songs, games, and a devotion are all part of the evening.

Each day the students head to Lifesong school campus, about a 5 minute walk from the Student Life Centre for the older students and about a 10-15 minute walk for those coming from the compound. 

 Sign on the gate as we are headed into the campus.

They are fed breakfast and lunch along with their school day. This is the "cafeteria" The main food eaten is nshima, which is ground corn mixed with water. It becomes a think consistency that they can mold into a scoop. Sometimes soup or vegetables are served along with the nshima.


The Lunch Ladies :)

We toured the campus while most students were in class so it seemed kind of quiet at the time.

Part of the elementary grounds

Computer Lab!

We peeked into a primary classroom where the kids sang Old MacDonald for us

We went back the next day when they were having Sports Day, Red vs Yellow. We were undecided so they made us these hats.

The awesome thing about Lifesong school is that these children get to attend FOR FREE. There are other schools around but all of them cost to attend and most families in the compound cannot afford to send anyone to school.

Lifesong School is free because of Sponsorships. Every child is sponsored and paid for so there is nothing out of pocket for these families.

But, as with all things, prices go up and things continue to cost more. There needed to be another way to fund the school so that Sponsorship did not become a burden.

Entire Lifesong Farms.  Erik and Carrie headed over to Zambia 4 years ago to get the farm off and running. They started with acreage that was just bush land. They hired workers, often family members of the students, and started clearing the land. Sometimes with heavy equipment, often with hoes, muscle, and sweat.

A thriving Strawberry Farm was created. These berry plants are planted by hand, tended by hand, and then harvested....by hand. You could hear the women singing while they worked.

When the berries are harvested they are taken to processing where they are either packaged for fresh sale or made into jam.
Found them for sale in the local Shop Rite!!

That price is in kwatcha. Divide by 10 to 12 (it varies, the kwatcha is a bit unstable right now) and you will get the price in American dollars.

The processing plant, literally steps from Erik and Carrie's front door.

The thought behind the farm: buy a jar of jam, feed 1 child for 1 day! Oh, I wish we could buy it in the States...

We knew that Erik and Carrie were working hard, because that is just the type of people they are. They don't slow down. But we were still amazed when we saw the size of the farm and the amount of work they did in just 4 short years with limited funds and hands.

And, like I just mentioned, they don't know how to slow down... The farm is being passed onto someone else to manage so that Erik and Carrie can focus on the next big project.

The Vocational School.

The first graduating class from Lifesong will be graduating THIS December. It's kind of a big deal. 

But very few, to none, of these graduating students can go on to University.  So, the Vocational School is being created.

A few different areas of study will be:
Poultry/Swine Production
Crop Production

These students will leave the Vocational School with skills to get paying jobs and in turn be able to better help their families and community. 

This is still in the VERY beginning stages and a lot needs to be accomplished before the first class graduates this December.  

There is currently NO funding for this program and Erik and Carrie are spearheading the whole thing. They have a clear plan and vision, they just need the money to back it.

Would you like to be a part of building this school for Zambian students? To give them an education beyond high school? One that will not only impact their lives right now, but their family's lives, and their futures as well?
Click HERE and in the drop down menu choose 
Erik and Carrie Wiegand, Zambia
In the memo line type FOR VOCATION SCHOOL

If you have read all three of these posts on Zambia you hopefully have gotten a small glimpse into the sacrifice that the Wiegands have made to bring hope and healing to the orphans of Garneton, Kitwe, Zambia.* We can show our support of their work through generous giving. Will you join us?

Panoramic of the Vocational School grounds as well as Erik and Carrie's home in the background

The first building for the Vocational School. Welding and Car Mechanics are already going on in this building with Erik and some of the Lifesong students
 Parts of the gardens for the Vocational Program

*This blog post series has been the complete opinions and observations of the me, the blogger. Erik and Carrie did not ask me to post or write about their work, in fact, they'll probably be embarrassed by the compliments and attention I have shone their way. That's just the kind of people they are. And I love them for it.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

July Lookback

July 2017 was unlike any July we have ever experienced.

Sure, we had our family time on the 4th, and took in a ball game.  But, then, the rest of the month was consumed with packing for Zambia, being in Zambia, and recovering from Zambia.

It was awesome.  And I want to do it again.  Some pictures of the trip are posted here, just because it made up a majority of our July. To get a more thorough summary of the trip check out The Beautiful and The Hard previously posted.

Grandpa and Grandma's new 'playground' is a hit with all the cousins

Through my job in Foster Care we got seats to a Tincaps game, a buffet meal, and July 4th fireworks afterwards.

Carrie in Zambia gave me the idea to put a countdown app on my phone. It was fun to be able to countdown the days.
We planned to make the majority of our luggage be for the Wiegands, so as boxes showed up at our house that Carrie had ordered, I would stack them in the corner. A few days before our flight I started unpacking the boxes to see how I could get it all to fit. I was a bit taken aback when I opened one box and found a cow's heart, cow's eyeball, and fetal pig! The kids were a bit surprised as well...

We fit a round of frisbee golf in one afternoon at the local course. Definitely had to play best throw or we would have been there ALL day.

Our luggage in it's entirety. About lost most of it in Johannesburg, South Africa...

I was amazing to realize in 36 hours time we were on 3 different continents. It made the world seem big and small at the same time.  All in all, we were in 6 different countries (minus the US) on our trip.

The part we called the "Anniversary" part of our trip. Celebrating 15 years with a 7 hour layover in London. Walking through Hyde Park...

Seeing Buckingham Palace

And enjoying fish and chips at an outdoor pub
Standing on the bridge spanning the Zambezi River, 
able to say we were both in Zambia and Zimbabwe

Those baboons were the real deal. I was only fearful two times while on our trip, and this was one of those times. Baboons within a foot of us, trying our best to avoid eye contact and keep moving.
Unknown to each other, we packed the same shirt... #twinning

Dipping our feet in the Zambezi
Safari in Botswana, seeing animals up close and in their natural habitat

Hanging out, living life with the Wiegands. The best part of the trip.

The last night we were able to go out on a double date, no kids, just the 4 of us. It was such a sweet time to reflect, discuss, and share.  

And then my camera quit working. I still have not been able to get it to work, unfortunately. I'm limping along with my phone camera, that leaves much to be desired. But this was all I was able to get from the rest of July.