Off & Running
a Blog of Life on the Run

October
13,
2014

Our Last Day in Zambia

Kids, kids, and more kids

On our last full day in Zambia (Saturday, Oct 11), we headed off to Kalingalinga and Garden to visit Kids Clubs, the places where sponsored and registered children learn about Jesus, play, get creative, and are taken care of. All of the Horizon International children are orphans of HIV/AIDS victims (deceased or terminal) and are being cared for by an adult (typically not in an orphanage). (FAQs) Here's the difference:

Sponsored: children who are able to attend school (school is not free in Zambia), have supplies and a uniform along with basic medical care, food parcels for your family, laundry detergent, and correspondence & gifts from their sponsors
Registered: children who have been documented & are listed as available to sponsor 
Deactivated: children who have had their sponsor stop giving money

  

Some of these children have been waiting for years to be sponsored. Being there to meet them and talk face-to-face really changed my view on how easily these children can be taken care of. This isn't a commercial trying to make you feel bad. These children live in some of the hardest conditions on the planet and have every desire to change the direction of their life. Others have had their sponsor stop giving and they've ended up having to drop out of school due to the fees.

One young man (the one singing in the first photo in this post) wants to be a pastor and takes his studies VERY seriously. He's sponsored. He has a future as long as his sponsorship continues. The little girl sitting on my lap below, Ruth, is a 4-year-old sponsored child who enjoyed sitting quietly holding my hands in hers. Sitting with these children changes one's perspective.

  

The little girls - if they don't go to school - will end up in an early marriage (13 or 14 years old) with children and typically a husband who treats them terribly. These young men - if they end up on the street - will never be able to provide enough for their future families to eat. Their education can change their future and allow them to lead productive and healthy lives and give their children a better future also. This will change generations and a nation.

I don't know how to explain this in a better way - my heart has been taken and is being poured out here - this is not an ad for sponsoring a child. This is just real life for them. And the pocket money we have is all they need. That's it! It hit me really hard while I was looking into their eyes - their faces - so much hope, just seeing our faces amongst theirs.

The women who give of their time at these Kids Clubs love these children like their own. They know what the future holds for those who aren't cared for and have set out to change what's to come. This is Mary (above) with my team member, Meri. She was at the Women of Worth Conference and is one of the teachers.

Then we were off to Chaisa to do home visits and drop off care packages to sponsored children in the afternoon.

The smell that hits you as you step out of the van into Chaisa. Just minutes from some of the richest neighborhoods in Lusaka. No running water, no sewage pipes, no trash removal, very little electricity, and dirty children running everywhere. Children without supervision, with blackened feet from running through coal and sewage, half naked, unbathed, fed very little each day. Children who don't know anything other than this way of life.

But they had smiling, happy faces - welcoming us to their neighborhood - thrilled we were paying them a visit. Wanting "snap" (photos) of themselves, loving to see the back of my camera afterward to see what they look like. Many don't have mirrors or photos of themselves. They kept posing and asking for ones with their friends. Pure entertainment.

  

  

After Chaisa, we headed to another part of town to visit Susan's husband's sponsored girl, Miriam. She lives with and is taken care of by her Auntie, a woman who attended the conference. It was great to hug her again so soon after we were done. 

  

Miriam's cousin Frank had fallen in love with my camera and taking photos at the conference. This little boy, only 3 years old, couldn't get enough of being behind the camera and snapping. He would hold his hands up to his face and make a "chick-chick" sound pretending he was taking them. A little piece of my heart stayed with him when I left. Someday he'll be a photographer... I just know it.

At the end of the day, we were all wiped out from the week of activity and went to Moses & Cecelia's for a traditional homemade dinner with the other Horizon people, Jessie & Joshua and Mercy & Derick. We shared about what we took from the week, how much we appreciated each other, how we had begun to change and what we were going to do when we got home. It was such a blessed time in Zambia and we all walked away with way more than we brought in our hearts. 

Zambia, until next time. Thank you.

Now, off to South Africa.

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