Day One at Hope Community School – January 23, 2017

Touring Twapia, Welcome Ceremony & Reading Groups

We began with a Bemba lesson, the Bantu language most commonly spoke in Zambia. Our biggest take away? Muli Shani means “Hello, how are you?!” and Bwino means “Good!” We utilized these phases all the time, many times with a big smile or giggle in return.  Following our lesson, we piled in our bus and toured the Hope Ministries offices and met the staff who work tirelessly to provide the children of Hope House, the on-campus home for orphaned children, and Hope Community School. Then we were off to tour Twapia, the neighborhood where the current Hope Community School & Hope House now stands, and see it’s orgins. Twapia in Bemba translates to “we are broke!”

The kindness and joy and connectedness of the children in Ndola is incredible. We know we stand out of course, and that they are curious. We toured the original Hope’ House, where the founder’s of SparkVentures first built bunk beds for the orphans that lived there. We also toured the original Hope Community School space. Everywhere we went there were children. I found a quiet fall over me as I looked out at the neighborhood, in to the yards and streets,  the from the window of the van. I would wave and smile as I made eye contact with them. They would wave and smile back enthusiastically. Amid the chatter of conversation on the bus, and I just looked, waved, smiled, looked. But when we were exploring the grounds of the old house, a few children entered the gate. Have you ever had a small child reach for your hands? it is the most pure moment. The immediate sense of comfort and safety it gives them, the sense of belonging it gives to us. Just to see their smiles from the side of the road is such a gift. And they made me smile so much.

While compared to us, yes, they may live in immense poverty. But sadness is not the right emotional reaction. Hard work and focus is. These children are vulnerable, but they are all incredibly happy.  As a culture, they don’t want what we have, and they don’t want hand outs. What is needed is our energy and creativity in providing them with the tools and resources to “stand on their own two feet.” Access to education is the most critical component to ensuring they have a bright future, and unfortunately many of the children I saw today, weren’t at school, they were at home. Together hope school, and LPP are working to change that.

As we pulled up to Hope’s campus, and pulled through the front gate, we could hear the students, (all 350 of them!) singing in the assembly space. We did a quick walk through the campus to see the classrooms, the spaces currently under construction, and then joined them in the assembly. I can’t explain it fully, but it was 100% JOY. A total celebration of music, dance and excitement. Many of the travelers with us on our journey are returning visitors to Hope and two of the three founders were with us as well, and seeing their old friends for the first time in a long time was a beautiful reunion to witness.

Following our welcome ceremony, we couldn’t wait to jump into our planning meeting with Teacher Catherine, the newest addition to the Hope staff, our preschool teacher!  We were so encouraged to connect with her and learn about the curriculum currently in place, and share our play-based philosophy. We walked through the demonstrations and lessons we would be conducting with the students, and left the meeting inspired about how our week was going to take shape.

A highlight of our day was meeting our reading group partners. Ranging from 5th grade through 7th grade, we were all paired up with children to read together in English for one hour.  Along with planning for the preschool classrooms, Spark asked if we could plan and conduct an engagement activity following our reading group hour. We enthusiastically agreed and in true LPP form, the activities were not unlike something you’d see in our classrooms at home.

We began with reading “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” and themed our activity around the alphabet. Each student at Hope received a notebook as a gift from LPP. Our reading partners created bookmarks for their notebooks, using letter stampers to spell out their name and stickers and markers to decorate. It was heartwarming to see how carefully our reading partners crafted their bookmarks, and how they cherished the stickers!