Today’s blog post is from guest author and CPLS 8th grade student, Noah Long.
On June 8, 2017, I left the United States of America and flew to Zambia, Africa. For three weeks my team (Martha Elford, Will Eagleman, Saya Eagleman, Michele Eagleman, and I) worked with schools and lived in the home of Shepard and Rhutt Mbumbwae. The Mbumbwae family has three children and lives in Namwianga Mission, which is the campus for George Benson Christian College and Secondary School.
The schools that we went to were Christian schools that were established by the Mbumbwaes and other previous mission groups. The schools were Nalabumba, Seven Fountains, Siabalumbi, and Butale. These schools were located in the rural areas that were far from the cities. The “roads” that the children used to get to school were rocky dust paths that cut through the bush. The work that we did at these schools were our team’s primary task.
Martha Elford, our team leader, educated the teachers about how to help their students to comprehend the material that they read. The rest of the team read stories from the Bible to the students and played games with them. Playtime with the children was one of my favorite things that I did on this trip. They would sing for us, we would sing for them. They would teach us their games, we would teach them ours. Often the smaller ones, who did not know English as well as the older kids, just loved mimicking the crazy things that Will and I did.
The schools that we went to did not have electricity or running water. (If they needed water they would need to get it from a bore-hole pump.) If you had to use the restroom, you would have to go to a rank brick shack and use the hole in the floor. Normally the children wake up at four in the morning and walk about two hours to school on rough roads. At their lunch break the students usually drink/chew a milky bottled substance, called chibuantu, made from boiled maize cob, which literally translates into English as “the drink that you chew.” The average tuition cost of these schools is about 30 Kwacha a year, which is $2.70. Many families cannot afford it. These families often use the barter system and trade vegetables, bricks, and manual labor to to pay for their children’s education. However, some students are sponsored by people here in America and are now able to attend school.
Zambian cuisine is, as you might expect, very different than food here in the U. S. A. Their main food comes from maize. A normal meal would probably consist of nshima, garden relish, sweet potato, and possibly village chicken on a good day. Nshima is a very bland sticky paste and is the consistency of Play-Doh. Zambians form the nshima into a spoon and scoop up the rest of the food with it. Most of their food is grown in personal gardens, so they must be constantly be maintained or else people will not be able to eat.
Transportation is congested and very difficult in Zambia. Every day most people either walk, bike, or get picked up by big trucks, which are normally loaded with about fifty people at a time, to get to where they work. The roads look and feel like they had been bombed. Car trips are painful. That is all Ihave to say about the roads in the Southern Province of Zambia.
The markets are overwhelming. The closest thing I can compare it to is a neighborhood garage sale where everything is packed into a single garage and there are about 60-70 of these garages. The Zambians are extremely determined to sell you what they and their partners have made, such as carvings, paintings, jewelry, bags, and games. (Their children often sold bags of groundnuts or popcorn too.) They tried especially hard with our team because we were makuas (white men), who are believed to have a lot of money. As a makua it was impossible to not be stared at in Zambia. You could not just melt into the crowd. It was way out of my comfort zone to be constantly speculated, but I eventually became used to it.
Another thing I remember about the Zambian people is the singing. In Zambia, singing is how they can give a gift or pass the time. They can sing for hours at a time and their voices will be the same as when they started. Most of the singing that I witnessed was acapella. Usually, there would be a lead singer, who would sing a verse very loudly by him/herself and the rest of the vocalists would echo him or her, again very loudly. I can gladly say that I have never met a Zambian, who could not sing.
Most of the people in Zambia live in brick homes with either grass or tin roofs. These houses have either dirt or rough concrete floors and occasionally electricity and running water. People do not earn a lot of money for their work, so oftentimes there is not a lot to eat. This poverty is the reason that I went to Zambia for mission work. There is corruption, a lack of resources, and bad government leadership. But, if the students at the schools are equipped with wisdom, knowledge, and a love for Christ the future of Zambia looks bright. That is why I flew half way around the world to Zambia. I wanted to help that cause and strengthen my brothers and sisters in Christ. And in coming back to America I feel that I have done something for God’s kingdom. I feel that I have come back with a more grateful and attentive heart.
Please pray for Zambia. While God’s word is spreading like wildfire, the poverty in Zambia is causing corruption that is still tearing the country apart.