One Volunteer’s Experience in Zambia
We recently took the time to interview Jamie Leathers, a participant in our January 2012 trip to Zambia. As a long-time investor in Spark Ventures, Jamie was excited to see our work first-hand in Zambia as well as meet her sponsor child, Jane! Read our interview with Jamie to learn more about her experience with our Partnership Trip to Zambia.
Jamie: I learned about Spark Ventures a few years ago through co-founder Scott Barbeau. I thought it was great that they were encouraging the children there to get a good education and live up to their potential by helping them to be healthy. I also liked how they had a plan in place to assist the school and orphanage to one day be self-sufficient. I began as an investor in Spark Ventures over a year ago by donating a small amount each month, then eventually sponsored a child at the Hope School.
What motivated you to go on Spark’s partnership trip to Zambia?
First and foremost, I wanted to see the difference these children’s lives. It’s great that Spark keeps their website up-to-date, sends out emails to their investors, and holds annual events – but the opportunity to see it all first-hand is amazing! Not many organizations give you the chance to go overseas and see the progress they have made and meet the teachers and the children that you see so many photos of. I was also extremely excited to meet my sponsor child, Jane. She and I had communicated back and
Was there anything that surprised you while in Zambia?
I went to Zambia with no expectations and a very open mind, but I was definitely surprised by the people! Everyone that I met there was warm, friendly, and sincere. I was welcomed into
I naturally connected with my sponsor child, Jane. She is a wonderful little girl and will always have a special place in my heart. She and her friends spent time teaching me some Bemba vocabulary, clapping games, and other games they play after school. Those girls were so patient with me! I made so many mistakes, but they didn’t mind at all. Jane just kept saying “Try again, try again…” I also felt a strong connection with one of the pastors at Hope Ministries, Pastor Judy. I felt very comfortable with her and was able to talk to her about my life. She gave me a lot of hope for my future and I believe she helps give many people in her community hope as well. A remarkable woman!
I was also inspired by several of the children’s stories – one example being Alex, who used to have to walk the streets late at night when he was young, selling kerosene for his aunt who he
I admit, it was a bit disheartening to return to the U.S. where I see so many children here who have everything, yet take it all for granted. They could have the newest cell phones, the trendiest clothing, the latest video games or toys, the most expensive sports cars, and yet still complain, whine, are unhappy and greedy for more. Some of them even complain about school, skip classes, possibly even drop out! Meanwhile, in Ndola, the kids were ecstatic to have the chance to go to school and learn. They were excited about learning – never complaining about anything, and quite possibly the happiest children I have ever seen. I came home not feeling sorry at all for the kids I met over in Africa – I felt more sorry for the kids here in the U.S.
Even though these kids live in poverty and have very little, they are so happy and content with life. They were so full of spirit – always laughing, singing, and playing! I also witnessed first-hand at how giving the children are, whether it be by sharing their food with one another or patiently teaching me all of their songs and games. In short, the children at the Hope School are healthy and happy. Admittedly, I can’t compare how they are now to how they may have been years ago before Spark Ventures and all of the wonderful Hope teachers and staff came into their lives.
On a personal level, my priorities have shifted somewhat. I have always held the people in my life as my number one priority, as my family and friends are the most important things in my
Have you stayed involved with Spark Ventures and the people you met along the way?
I will stay involved with Spark Ventures for as long as they are around. I feel they are an amazing organization and I believe in their mission. I will continue being an investor in Spark and plan on supporting any new projects they encounter. I would love to travel back to Zambia with Spark to help out in any way I can. And of course, I plan on keeping in touch with not only the Spark Ventures members who went on the trip with me, but also many of the Hope teachers and staff who I connected with during my stay with them over in Zambia.