Monday, 2 November 2020

Reopening School

 

I planned this blog approximately 5 weeks ago when we had been given the go ahead to open school. Time has flown by since then and Corona shut down seems like a dim and distant memory. We are open with smaller classes, children only in for a limited amount of time every day and everyone wearing face masks and washing their hands regularly. To add to the chaos we also bought the grade 5 and 6 children who had been learning elsewhere back on site for the rest of this term.


 

First Assembly after Corona



 

Temperature Checks 

It works a little something like this:

 

206 children.

 

Each grade is split into 2 groups.

 

Baby class to grade 4 are in for 2 hours of learning a day. Group 1 starting at 8am and group 2 starting at 10.30am.

 

Grade 5 and 6 are in for 3 hours of learning a day with group 1 starting at 8am and group 2 starting at 11.30am


It feels like we have children coming and going all the time and should install a revolving gate but over the last 5 weeks we have got a pretty good system in place. Teachers are teaching the same lessons to two separate groups. It means less learning time but also much more focused work with teachers able to support the children in more meaningful ways.

 

Grade 1
 

Grade 4 measuring each other


 

When we opened school 15 children did not come back. We expected to have lost a few children as parents lost jobs and have moved away but it was very sad especially as a couple of them had been with me for a long time.

 

 

Overall the official figures for Corona virus in Zambia are very encouraging with low transmission rates and relatively low number of infections. We thank God for this and pray it will continue.

 

 

Patricia washing and combing hair

Sunday, 19 April 2020


A few people have asked what its like in Lusaka at the moment, this is a fairly lengthy post but I have tried to give you a full overview.



In Zambia schools were closed on Friday 20th March, the same day as in the UK but there are a few significant differences in how Covid-19 is playing out in Zambia. The first cases of Coronavirus were confirmed on the 18th March and up to now the official figures show Zambia as having a total of 61 cases and only 3 deaths.  We have regular conversations about how much these figures can be trusted and how the testing is being done, the honest truth is that like many countries we will never know however the figures across most of Africa are significantly lower than lots of the world. We live in fear that the worst is coming while praying that God will show great favour on this continent and protect us from the worst.








Bethsheba

So what has happened with the children. The short answer is that they are home. We have had very little contact with them since closing the gates a month ago. I don’t think I will ever forget that last singing session with the children where they chose songs that had variations of the words our God is Great and he will look after us. As I looked at the children a sense of not knowing when I would see them again and what would happen in the future was heavy on my heart.

At Old MacDoanlds farm they are on ‘lockdown’. Zambia as a whole is not locked down although people are being encouraged to stay at home if they can but we have a few boys who have serious underlying health issues and they have all realised the seriousness of catching Conoravirus. So far they seem to be coping with not going out. I go once a week to check on them while keeping a distance and have bought them table tennis bats, pool cues and a football. I also saw a rather tense game of monopoly being played the other day! 
Sunrise Easter service




Where I live there are 18 people on ‘lockdown’. Roughly 4 weeks ago we made the decision to lock the gates here as well to protect us all. Everyone who lives here has been incredibly good about not going out and are much more comfortable to stay at home to keep safe.

Joy doing her school work

Just about keeping ahead of the children!


I have been keeping busy. Once a week I go out to do shopping, check on the boys and do any other jobs that need to be done off site. Three days a week I teach six of the children that live here. We have been doing the body coach workouts every morning and a run some afternoons with the children as we have made a running track in the goat paddock. 
Post-run rest


Saturday, 14 December 2019

The children taught me a lesson....



It is the end of a school year. Tests, Christmas play, party and end of term-itus have been all consuming for a few weeks but the best story of the season actually comes from some children who I take to school.

Skies over Lusaka

Four of the five children I take to school



Every day 5 children come with me from where I live to school. Two weeks ago on the way home we were talking about the rain. One of the children knew that if the rain didn’t come it would mean there is no food.

Almost flippantly I said “yes, we need to pray for the rain”
The children responded in a chorus of “Yes Teacher Abi, Yes” and then they proceeded to pray for rain. An impromptu prayer meeting in the car.
As they started praying the sky was blue with a few white fluffy clouds.

The whole school



Cooking lesson


It takes about 10 minutes to get home from school. As we reached home Daniel pointed into the sky. “Teacher Abi, look!” and up on the horizon was a big dark cloud.
Of course it hadn’t started to rain yet and in my head I thought, we have had dark clouds but they don’t bring the rain.

Fast forward a few hours. How wrong was I!?
It poured.
It rained all night long.

The next morning I totally forgot to say anything but as the children got into the car at the end of the school day Blessing had remembered. “Teacher Abi, we prayed and it rained. We need to pray again”
Joy added “yes, and there were TWO rainbows and rainbows show us Gods love”
So began the second car prayer meeting, which happened every day for the next 2 weeks and included lots and lots of thanks.
Children waiting after lunch


Rain!



Since then the rains have truly come to Lusaka. It has just rained for 36 hours solidly.
My last blog talked about the need for rain.
We are so thankful it has finally started and these children have learnt one of the most important lessons of their lives and then thanked God from the bottom of their hearts!


Thursday, 31 October 2019

I've lost some children...


In the last 3 days we have ‘lost’ 4 children and there is nothing we can do about it!

Grade 4 lesson

This makes my heart sad. I truly believe that every child in this school was brought here for a reason. Jackson to Bethsheba, Queen to Elijah, all 150+ of them and the 300+ more that have passed through school since I have been here.
Teacher Angela preparing for the day

The children love coming to school, most of the parents appreciate the school, they get food, uniforms and education. So why are they stopping?

A grandma who has come to talk about her child schooling

Grade 4 making part of a model village

Zambia is struggling economically. We have daily power cuts of 12-18 hours, prices are going up and the rains have yet to start.

Most of the children at TCS come from very low-income families. The parents go out in the morning to find a job for the day to bring in enough money to feed everyone that evening. Some parents have more regular work in people’s gardens, houses, loading trucks or some kind of manual labour but as the economy worsens people are being laid off and work is getting harder to find.
Baby class mid activity

Showing off how well her arm is healing after a nasty burn

The result of this is the families can’t afford to keep their children in Lusaka. Many of the families have relatives in “the village” (anywhere outside of Lusaka). The cost of living in a village is significantly lower than living in Lusaka so as life gets tougher the children can be sent away.  In “the village” access to education and health care is reduced and the future does not look great.

Fun on the swing



Children helping change a plug







Taking a moment before the day starts

I may only have a few months with a child or I may have a few years. In that time they are taught about Jesus and a seed is planted. As they go to the village I have to trust there was a reason for them ever coming into school. How did they hear about school? What made me say yes to that family and no to a different family?


Please join me in praying for Zambia and for the children who we have already lost and those we might yet lose that have heard about Jesus, sung songs about him and learnt bible verses in their time here.

Tell the world that Jesus lives
Tell the world that, tell the world that
Tell the world that he died for them
Tell the world that he lives again









.






Friday, 2 August 2019

The end of 10 years


Sitting at the airport waiting for my flight it seems incredible that I have finished 10 years in Zambia.
    10 years of serious travel to see family and friends.









There have been hard times, the death of a friend or child in my care, illness, overwhelming frustrations and feelings of inadequacy.

In the last 48 hours a few very difficult things have happened that we cant explain or understand, various phrases have been going through my head. God is working his purpose out. Through the rise and fall He is God above it all, You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they put their trust you.


Lets be honest, If I had known 10 years from now where I would be and what I would be doing I would have never got on the plane for 1 year in 2009. 
But God knew. He had a plan.
As I leave I have handed in all of my documents to apply for residency. It is up to the immigration department to decide if I can stay here. I have never had a problem with a work permit before and pray that by the time I come back it is approved.





We don’t know what can change or happen even within a few hours but how comforting to know I don’t need to worry about it too much because God had it under control.




20 Questions, TCS Edition, Oliya

I have started a series of 20 questions with the people at school so you can get to know some of them a bit more.

The children have no idea what the questions are before I ask them so this is a good way to get to know them a bit better.

I will be trying to upload a new video once a week.

Enjoy!


Friday, 26 July 2019

20 Questions, TCS Edition, Christine

I have started a series of 20 questions with the people at school so you can get to know some of them a bit more.

They have no idea what the questions are before I ask them so this is a good way to get to know the people here a bit better.

I will be trying to upload a new video once a week.

Enjoy!