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


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.


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.


Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Heros and Unity

Zambia has 14 public holidays a year.
By contrast England has 8. 
Youth day, Independence day, Day of Prayer etc. 

This week we had 2 holidays. Heroes day, a day to remember those who fought in the battles for independence (Independence day is a separate holiday!) and Unity day, a day which celebrates the great diversity in Zambia coming together as one country.

Zambia is a country that has 72 tribal languages, 10 provinces (counties), 5 major cities and a population of just over 17.5 million.

TCS is a small school, with a population of 150 children and 12 adults but within our school we have at least 5 languages and people whose backgrounds spread across all 10 provinces of Zambia, and Suffolk, England! Lusaka is a melting pot of traditions, cultures and languages and as a result town Nyanja has become the dominant language in this area. This is a hybrid of at least 3 languages and often results in me getting very frustrated as everyone I ask seems to translate a phrase slightly differently!

However, we the children are thriving. We have the usual issues with behaviour and attendance that any school has but we also have a brilliant literacy rate with children learning to read very quickly and not only that, they can understand it as well!

Grade 4
Lessons on keeping clean and  healthy
Outside games
Reading is key
Role play learning conversational English
Writing everywhere!
Baby class

Song lyrics

Monday, 13 May 2019

Library revamp

Three years ago our ZEMS charity sent out 4 big boxes of books to start the TCS Library. Since then we have added books from all over the world, Zambia, South Africa, Australia, America and even more from the UK. 

Our Library has been functional but very plain. It started off in one of the old, dark classrooms then we moved it into a converted container. The books have all been very well used and were in need of repairs and a good sort out and the whole thing needed a serious facelift.

The original library in one of the old classrooms
The second library in the plain container
Then along came Debs. She arrived for a 6 week visit mid March and was happy to get stuck in wherever it was needed so between helping out in the classrooms and listening to readers we tackled the Library. 

See the transformation in the video below.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Time flies when you're having fun....

Happy New Year!

I thought the UK was cold!
I know that's a little late but things kicked off in January full steam ahead and somehow we are now well into February. The year is flying!

Last school year finished well with a party for 180+ children.  The party ended at 3.30pm and at midnight I headed to the airport to go and visit my family for the holidays. It was a special time, my nieces didn't take too long to warm up to me and I was able to visit a few people and catch up with Don and Christine.

I came back to Zambia in January knowing that we only had 30 free spaces at school and I had more than 30 children on the waiting list.... an impossible situation as they are all so desperate for school.

New uniform for some of the boys
New uniform for some of the girls

We spent a week doing some teacher training. This included practical things like building lego models - something the teachers had never done before - and some learning and self evaluation. Then on the 14th January the gates were opened. Actually, we didn't let any parents into the school as we knew we were going to have a problem. The approach we took was to let all of the children already enrolled in school go through the gates then separate the parents into 2 groups, those that had children at school already and those who didn't. Unfortunately we had to tell all of those that didn't have children here that there would not be spaces for them. The rest of the parents had to fill in a form giving names, ages and grades of the children they wanted to start. It is amazing how some of the families I have known for years suddenly have extra children who I've never met!! It is a minefield trying to find out children's names let alone their ages and who their real parents are.

The last 4 weeks have been a blur of new children, giving uniforms, buying resources and generally trying to get back into routine.  The children who were in Grade 4 last year have moved on and as happens every year I miss them a lot.

Teacher Sam with some of her boys
In January we had a very special visitor. Teacher Sam, who worked at Taonga for 3 years, came back from Mozambique for 10 days. It was so much fun to show her all of the changes and for her to see how much the children had grown and changed.

We are also very excited as we have our first "Taonga Baby" Teacher Angela had her first child, a little girl, at the end of December. We are all so happy for Angela and are looking forward to baby Pauline starting school in 3 1/2 years time!

Aside from school Christine is still in the UK with Don. She is still waiting for her liver transplant. The waiting is long and difficult but we believe God knows what he is doing in this period of waiting even if we don't understand it at the moment. The boys are doing well. There are only 9 living at the farm now and they are generally working hard and behaving themselves.

Thank you for your prayers and support through 2018 and the start of 2019. We hope you are having as much fun as us so far this year!

                Grade 1 reading             Making models of the school     Cooking lesson in Grade 4
Grade 4 made chocolate crispy cakes Baby Pauline Robert and Teacher Sam