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And Then There Were Three…

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Joann here again! This post is also coming a tiny bit late. It was written yesterday on our way to Lusaka. Hope you enjoy it!

Over the last three days we have accomplished and seen a great deal, and we have had a great time throughout! We visited another school, St. Andrew’s Basic School on Wednesday morning, and we picked up a lot of great tips about running a primary school. It has really amazed me how open and helpful all of the school staff members and headmasters/headmistresses have been. They seem not only willing but actually eager to show us the work they’ve done and allow us to learn from their experience. It is truly a testament to the culture here that even schools that are struggling to find fee-paying students are willing to help build up institutions like Hope Ministries and the community schools they run.

The last few days have also allowed us to follow children with incredible stories to their homes to see a small piece of their lives and hear their stories. One child walks four hours to get to school because there are no fee-free schools any closer to his home. One child’s family has been decimated by HIV/AIDS. While every child at Hope Community School no doubt has a fascinating story of struggle and survival, the children whom we’ve accompanied have really stolen our hearts and given us even greater motivation to continue the partnership work that we are doing with Hope Ministries.

Yesterday was an incredible day celebrating the dedication of the Shelby Goldstein Schoolhouse. Charles has long told us that for the community here, infrastructure is THE sign of reliability and stability. Thus, the construction and dedication of the schoolhouse has been an incredibly powerful signal to the children and the community at large that Hope and its goals to educate, nourish and inspire vulnerable children are here to stay. The celebration for the dedication involved hundreds of children and community members, and a number of the community leaders mentioned how wonderful it is that the spirit of Shelby Goldstein, who passed away when she was four years old, can now live on in the education and bright futures of the hundreds of schoolchildren who will study in the schoolhouse. It was truly a day to remember.

Today has been a day of celebration as well, though paired with sadness. As we embark on our five-hour bus ride to Lusaka to see the land that has been purchased for the poultry farm that will soon allow Hope Ministries to be financially independent and sustainable, we say goodbye to all of the children at Hope House and Hope Community School with whom we’ve spent the last week. I know that I’ll miss their laughter every time one of us attempts to speak in Bemba as well as the confusing hand and card games that they tried to teach us and that we could never really understand. I can’t wait until I can join them again!

Tomorrow morning Tasha and Nancy, the two board members that have joined us for this trip, will be leaving us, and Rich will be staying in Lusaka to have more meetings and discussions about the poultry farm. Thus, it will leave Brady, Liz and I to enjoy Livingstone and our safari to Botswana on our own, and I think we plan to work hard to have enough fun for all six of us! I have no doubt that having Mama Lillian and Ba Margaret as our guides and travel buddies will make the next few days an absolute riot. They call themselves the “senior ladies,” so Brady and Liz have started singing “all the senior ladies” to the tune of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” every time we see them. It’s going to be a ridiculous few days…stay tuned!

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