My love affair with Zambia started with my first safari there in 1997. Over the years, I have gained immeasurable joy and inspiration from the landscapes, wildlife and people. I’ve always been very conscious that there is a great deal of poverty and felt privileged to be seeing the best of the country through my trips.
In 2013, I visited KaingU for the first time and joined a trip to the local, lodge supported primary school. The day was very special for me – a window into everyday life in a remote Zambian village. Apart from the obvious lack of school resources, three things really made me think:
- that, in their remote location, without the support of KaingU Lodge and their clients, these 250 children would not have been able to go to school
- in the first grade, classes are split 50 / 50 girls and boys, by grade 7 there are very few girls as many stay at home to help take care of their families
- how appreciative the children are of so little. We took stickers and a few balloons for the younger children to play with. I couldn’t believe the excitement and joy that such simple things created.
For me, having been born in the UK, the experience brought home how much I have to be thankful for and take for granted. I believe that education relieves poverty – especially educating girls – and I wanted to do something to help. In some small way to pay back Zambians for the joy they give me.
Lynda and Rick from Kaingu and their friend Allyson and I talked about ways of getting more supplies to the school. We also discussed the value of girls getting a full education. Only a few village families would be supportive of their daughters going to secondary school and even less could afford for them to do so. I wondered if I could help. Maybe, if I could enable one girl to go to secondary school, something positive would come from her experience.
So began a complex journey – my new friends at KaingU working to find a girl who would be willing and able to continue her education outside of her village, away from her family and friends. We agreed that I would sponsor Evony and she started school in Itezhi-Tezhi in 2014.
The school she attends does not include boarding. She stays at a local boarding house and initially struggled with homesickness and academically. Having settled in and made friends, her second year has been much happier and she has just retaken her exams which we hope she has passed.
As sponsoring Evony has cost relatively little and with the objective of making a real difference to more lives, we decided to look for another girl to sponsor. Lynda and Rick visited the new Itezhi-Tezhi Boarding School and found two girls in need of sponsorship to finish their secondary education – Euphemia and Ebbiness. I met them during my recent visit to KaingU. They are bright, enthusiastic and articulate young ladies who both want to be doctors. They have worked hard at school and achieved great results despite really difficult backgrounds. I think they are an inspiration!
I couldn’t decide which to sponsor and so, having looked at the numbers, have made the commitment to sponsor both of them to the end of their secondary education – two years. As far as I’m concerned, my investment is great value – schooling, boarding, uniforms and personal items come in at approx $500 a year. I have already had an email from them thanking me for supporting them and am looking forward to hearing how they are doing each term.
Whatever the the three girls make of their futures, I know they will do us proud. I get to repay a fraction of the joy that Zambia gives me, and, who knows, maybe the contribution that Evony, Euphemia and Ebbiness make to Zambia in the future will be extraordinary!
This sponsorship makes me feel that I am doing something positive and gives me a special connection to a country I love. In addition, I have a great reason to return to see my KaingU friends in their incredible environment every year which can’t be bad!