After a long day of traveling yesterday, we hit the ground running today. Bright and early, we headed to Chikumbuso, a community center in a slum in Lusaka that works with over 300 kids who have been affected by HIV/AIDS. Once we arrived we were greeted by a group of kids all laughing, smiling, singing and dancing. I was struck by the amount of children sitting there with huge smiles on their faces. Once we split into groups, my group used tennis balls to play wall ball with the kids. Although it was incredibly hot the kids continued to play while smiling the whole time. Afterwards, we played Red Rover and the kids became pretty competitive. They took a couple of pretty hard falls and every time when I ran over to see if they were ok, they would jump up and laugh. This really highlighted the difference between our cultures because if any of the little American kids I babysit had taken half the falls that these kids took, they would have been sobbing by now. Once we were done with our morning activities, the kids went to go eat lunch, which for most of them was their only meal of the day. When the kids were eating some of us went inside to where the widows were working on making bags and helped them string together plastic bags, so they could use the plastic to crochet their bags. The entire time I spent at Chikumbuso, I did not encounter one rude or inconsiderate kid.
In the afternoon, the LearnServe group split into three groups and walked through the compound (which is the equivalent of a slum) and through the market. Julia and I were the only white people in our group so as we walked through the compound we were repeatedly called “mzungus” which is a common term in East Africa to describe, “white people”. At 2:30, while still on the tour, we passed a bar and saw a huge group of people inside and outside of it. This really opened my eyes to the fact that because the unemployment rate is so high in Zambia, many people are left with no better option then to spend their whole days inside a crowded bar and getting drunk.
I had such an amazing first full day in Zambia. Although I was extremely tired from the plane ride, playing with all of the adorable, happy, smiling kids kept me upbeat and energetic. I can say with complete confidence I am super excited for tomorrow!
Jane L., Sidwell Friends School