Agape Land School
Mid December 2012 I received a text from my friend Presley which simply said “Good news—we have been given a community school to run” ( the owner had moved to Lusaka). He knew it would be good news to me because for quite some time I have been very concerned about the plight of street children and how to help them. We met in Chingola town, grabbed a taxi and took the short trip, about 20 minutes, to Chabanyama. The school was dirty, many of the classroom windows broken, but the structure appeared to be solid, nothing a good scrubbing and a few coats of paint couldn't fix. We wandered through a community of deprivation and obvious poverty, arousing much curiosity since this is a place where whites are not seen. Naturally, people were wondering what was going on and when we explained that we were considering improving and reopening Agape Land School in January (schools are closed for the month of Dec.) they became very interested.
Chabanyama is an area where parents and caregivers struggle just to feed their children on a daily basis, where many of the street children we see in town come from, where there are many orphans and vulnerable children. Yet they need to pay for uniforms, school books, examination fees, and contributions to the PTA, all required in the Zambian school system. Word spread quickly about our visit and a few days later as I was familiarizing myself with the area surrounding the school, a man beckoned me into his small shop in the market. He wanted to chat about our intentions for the school and give me some suggestions. I was astonished to hear that parents here value learning so much that they are willing to sacrifice from what little they have so that their children can receive a good education. A community minded individual, this man stressed the need for a local school which would offer a high standard of quality education. He told me that many parents are currently going without food in order to pay the transportation costs of sending their children into town for their schooling. He had many excellent ideas as to how to proceed, I invited him to meet with us and he's now our chief advisor, a vital part of the management team.
Now, it's a mere two months later, and this school has been changed dramatically!!! Due to a generous donation from a friend in Canada our teachers now have all the text books required to meet the learning requirements of the Zambian educational system for grades one to seven. Not only that but I was able to travel to Kitwe and purchase the building blocks and educational toys recommended by a friend trained in early childhood education as well as mats for the classroom floors of the little ones nursery school age. Presley and I went to the local Awana (www.awana.org) office, registered with them and bought a game kit for sports. They sent a representative on Friday last and we had a super morning of fun and competition, learning games such as Beanbag Head, Days of the Week, Relays—just a few from the many in our new game book. The kids had a great time and many children and adults from the community gathered to watch. Some day we will be ready to compete against other schools and churches! Laptops are coming from Canada in May which will mean we can begin computer classes—awesome!!!!
Our dream is to purchase the school and develop it into an excellent learning facility which can also offer help to the street children, orphans in the area, as well as the community as a whole. We just started, a few weeks ago, a Literacy Class for adults which is proving to be very popular. And some Saturday very soon we will invite the children who were peering through the gate and sitting on the fence to participate in a Sports Day just like the one they observed last week.
As the first term is coming to a close on April 5th, the break is for a month, we are pleased with the progress and looking forward to welcoming more students in May. These parents want a better future for their children, a way out of poverty through a good education. Those of you who know me well understand the tears I am shedding as I write this, remembering the joy I've seen these past few months as children who never dreamed it was possible are building with blocks, having fun learning arithmetic from a talking phone and competing in a Sports Day—plus so much more!!!
May God bless all of you who are helping make the seemingly impossible possible.