Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Should I stay or should I go?

I am now in the eleventh month of my Zambian adventure. Although exploring new places and learning new things still makes it feel adventurous, life here feels quite normal to me now. It's totally different to the life I was used to at home, but it has become my new normal. I’ve got used to the heat, the beautiful sunsets, greeting everyone I see and the excitable children waving at me everywhere I go. Funnily enough, I’ve also got used to the bumpy roads, daily power cuts and even washing in a bucket at times!

A day out exploring a new place

Excitable schoolchildren greeting me in Kaniki!

I originally committed to come to Zambia and teach at the school for a year. I’m not usually someone who tends to plan very far ahead because I quite like the excitement of not knowing what will happen and I suppose I also like to keep my options open (although my family would rather say it's because I'm indecisive!). At the start of my time here I felt that a year was long enough to commit to living in a country that I’d never been to before.

However, it's amazing how quickly the time has gone. Apparently ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ and the last year has certainly been fun. It has given me a great opportunity to get to know lots of different kinds of people, make new friends, learn a huge amount about culture and life, and laugh a lot too (living with Rosie Loescher is one of the main reasons for so much laughter!). I think the lack of distinct seasons can also distract from time passing compared to how a year at home would feel. It really doesn’t seem like it's November when it’s so hot and sunny here!

Some of the team

Crazy Kaniki friends

Never a dull moment with this one!

Enjoying a taste of home

There have of course also been challenges during my time here. One of the hardest things to get my head around has been realising the scale of the problems and difficulties that people face. Sometimes it seems as if anything we do is just a drop in the ocean. Whilst it’s fantastic to see the progress children have made at school over the year, and the benefits it brings to them, I think it will take much longer to see the real impact on the things that they go on to do and the people that they become.

One of our Kapumpe children at his home

In three weeks' time I will return to the UK to catch up with lots of friends and spend Christmas with my family.  And...I AM SO EXCITED! I know the cold weather will be a shock and I might not be prepared for the busyness of life back home but I am really looking forward to seeing friends and family. I have missed England and all of you wonderful people.

Looking forward to seeing my family!

With that said, I've made a decision that I will return to Zambia in 2016 to continue volunteering here for another year, which I'm also excited about. When thinking things through, I found it helpful to chat to other people and pray about it as well. Sometimes it’s funny how clear things can suddenly become. One morning I woke up with a line in my head, ‘He will supply all your needs’ and realised it was a verse from the Bible (Philippians 4:19). Later that week Tim and Gemma, the couple who set up Kapumpe School, shared their ideas about the role I could take on next year which was right up my street. I felt like I’d begun to get my teeth stuck into things and realised there was lots more that I could do here.

I do sometimes find it quite strange being a volunteer because it means that I have to rely on other people’s generosity when I’m used to being independent. This decision means I won’t be earning any money or paying into my pension for another year and I am also taking more time out from a career that I had begun to successfully progress in at home. Yet there’s a real thrill in having the opportunity to do something I love and believe in, where my passion and skills can meet a real need. Honestly, it feels like a great privilege.

Some of the lovely children in my Grade 2 class!

Next year, my role here will change. I won’t be teaching a class, so that I can instead oversee both the school and the orphan project, Arise. If you pray, please do pray for me and the Kapumpe and Arise projects in 2016. I will be posting more soon about what I will be doing and how you can support me as I head back to Zambia for a second year. And for anyone who would like to hear more, I will gladly chat to you whilst I’m back in the UK! 

Thank you for following me in my adventure so far. I have been so encouraged and touched by people’s emails, messages, Skype conversations and your interest in my blog. I look forward to sharing my 2016 adventures with you!

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