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And So It Begins!

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Our long-awaited June 2010 Transformation Trip has officially begun! We had a soft opening on Friday when Brady and Liz, a first-time Transformation Trip participant, arrived in Zambia, but we are now fully in the midst of our trip with today’s arrival of Nancy and Tasha to round out our group!

We have a full agenda planned, including tours of a government school and private school to see if there are things we can learn to improve Hope Community School and Transformation Stories, which document the incredible stories of some of the children at the school.

I have not had a chance to post over the weekend, so I can catch you all up on some of the work we’ve been doing! After Brady and Liz arrived on Friday we had dinner with the translators at Michaelangelo’s, a hilariously decorated Italian/Zambian restaurant in Ndola. (Yes, stone statues and everything!) Liz got a chance to meet a lot of the staff, and I got a chance to thank all the staff who have been working so hard to get the updates and letters done over the last week. Dinner conversation circled largely around the World Cup, as one of the games was playing during dinner. (You can tell I’m not a soccer nut because I can no longer remember which two teams were playing!)

Saturday was a heavy day where we learned a lot about some history and current issues in Zambia, including the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I feel that we hear about this problem all the time in the States, yet we never hear about some of the nuances of the problem that we heard about from some patients at the AIDS hospice we visited. For example, many of the patients said they felt much better in the hospice simply because they were getting enough to eat. ARV’s, the drugs that are prescribed for HIV and AIDS, can be damaging to the body when taken without food, and one patient with whom we spoke said that he collapsed after taking his pills one day because he did not have the money to buy anything to eat. It really made Brady, Liz and I think again about some of the things we thought we knew about how to control the disease.

After taking in the many lessons we had from Teacher Ng’oma and another staff member on Saturday, we went home to spend time with our host family, the Mulandos, as it was their youngest son Nkhongono’s birthday! We had a nice dinner and got to rest and take in some more soccer before resting.

Sunday proved to be another restful day as we spent the morning in church, which is a true cultural experience in Zambia, one not to be missed. There was dancing, singing and lots of excitement, and we all had a great time. There was a great moment when Ba Margaret was introducing Liz, whom she introduced as Bana Brady (kind of like saying Mrs. Brady), and Brady stood up instead! We all had a good laugh and a good time.

After church we spent a few hours at Hope House, the orphanage that Hope Ministries runs, and we got to play all sorts of games with the kids. After realizing that Scrabble might be a bit ambitious given the fact that the children were still working hard on their English skills, we moved on to card games like War and Gold Fish, which turned out to be a ton of fun. It was the first chance we’ve had to really spend time with the kids at the orphanage, and it was great because they are all an absolute riot. Mama Maureen, the house mother, talks about how great the kids are and how they really treat her as if she were their own mother. You can imagine how tough it would be for her otherwise, with 14 kids to take care of!

And that brings us to today, and we are getting Nancy and Tasha settled in before another busy week. We’ll send more updates as the week progresses!

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