My dear beloved Bloggers,
I have returned! (feel a little Voldemort saying that but oh well!) Back from the hot sunny land of Zambia to the drizzly rainy hills of Bonnie Scotland, and I must say I am far more homesick for Zambia then I was for Scotland. Apologies my dear native country but you're being replaced in my heart!
My time was amazing - it was just absolutely incredible, the boys we stayed with were lovely and so vibrant - I think that's what really stayed with me about Africa was how vibrant and friendly and welcoming the people were, even though they had suffered horrible experiences, they were poverty stricken, they were hungry. It was amazing how many of them appeared determined to live life to the full and embrace it, making the best of what they had. I know it's a cliche repeated hundreds and millions of times before but we honestly do take things for granted. In Zambia the children are hungry for education, ravenous for it, whilst here in the UK we find it a nuisance, something that keeps us from going home to play computer games, hang out with friends. The children in Zambia cherish the opportunity to study especially since the government only provides education to a certain level for them, afterwards they have to pay for their education, which most families can't afford.
The charity who organised our exchange this summer is called M.A.L.I (the Mthunzi and Lilanda Initiative) and provides funding for education for boys in the Mthunzi Centre as well as help the Father Josephs Parish. These boys have mainly been picked up off the streets of Lusaka and have undoubtedly suffered some horrific experiences and the Centre helps them, putting them into the local basic school when they are ready and M.A.L.I. then pays for their further education when they have finished at that school (it only goes up to Grade 9 and there are still 3 more grades to go before Zambians have the qualifications needed for university etc.) M.A.L.I also pays for boys to go to college and study practical courses such as hospitality and encourages them to use education as a way to get a step forward in life. As is similar all over Africa, and indeed everywhere, qualifications are needed to make individuals stand out for that one fought over job that tens of other people have applied for.
Please visit this website and read more about the charity and if possible make a small donation. When I was in Zambia we visited the local school and they told me that they have 10 textbooks in one class to be shared between 50 pupils. The majority of their lessons are taught on blackboards and the children have to painstakingly copy out questions, answers, homework, examples, all because they don't have enough textbooks to take home to study.
My time in Zambia was incredible and I'm desperate to go back and help at the Centre again as well as raise awareness for this charity. I plan to do some fundraising in order to start giving back because what I experienced when participating in the exchange with the boys was invaluable and I learned so much. Far more I'm sure then they did from me. To be honest I feel that we have as much to learn, or at least relearn, from the developing countries as they do from us. When I was there we met up with a Girl Guides group which is just taking part in a new emerging feminist movement campaigning for equal rights for women and girls in education, the home, work. Their passion for what they believed in inspired me and made me realise we have lost a lot of that in Scotland - these girls were my age, 17, and younger and completely believed in their cause. Teenagers hardly have that any more, a cause to fight for, there's no need, and I think we 'developed citizens' lose a lot of motivation, determination and passion due to this. Basically we have our safety net woven around us and we hardly need to worry about things that for us our normal, where as for them, it's what they deeply desire and hope and wish for. We are so ridiculously lucky that we almost aren't as we don't appreciate it, we don't realise our luck and I think it is really sad. If I'm honest with myself even after my time in Zambia which has managed to open my eyes slightly to my life and the life of others, I probably still don't appreciate how lucky I am and that, that saddens me.
What was supposed to be a lighthearted small account of my time abroad has turned into a spillage of cascading thoughts that I feel have to be shared, however I promise to tell you about the lighter side of my trip soon!
Dig deep in your pockets for this charity if you can,