Sunday, 24 January 2016

Making a difference

There is no doubt that Arise and Kapumpe Christian Primary School are making a difference to the lives of people in Kaniki and the surrounding areas. There are many children receiving a good education who otherwise might not be at school; there are families with food who might otherwise go without and there are people working in jobs that they would not otherwise have had the opportunity to pursue. It is a wonderful privilege to be involved in this. However, I am learning that you do not have to give up your job and move thousands of miles away to make a difference and change lives.

Excited to be going on a school trip and for a new experience

My choice of teaching as a vocation was largely motivated by a desire to ‘make a difference’. I began my career working in a school in a deprived area, which fitted in with what I wanted to do. Later on I moved to work at a school in a very affluent area. To my surprise, I found there were just as many needy children but that their needs were different. Money helps to buy houses and food but it doesn’t buy time, care or kindness.

Me with some of the girls at Kapumpe who have hugely grown in confidence

A career in the caring profession is usually perceived to be very rewarding and fulfilling. In some ways it is, but it can also be frustrating! We are sometimes in danger of romanticising such professions when the reality is that a teaching job is so hectic, it becomes easy to rush through the day without stopping to ask how someone you are working with really is. I’m sure that this is not exclusive to teaching. It leads me to ask myself whether it’s more important to be highly productive and consumed with a to-do list of tasks, or to take more time considering the impact of our behaviour and attitude on the people around us, and what they may need from us.

The Zambian culture dictates that people should always take time to greet others. I love the way that people here make time to talk to each other. Of course, the pace of life is slower here compared to the UK, so it can sometimes be frustrating when little else gets done! But overall I think Zambian people are focused on the right priority.

There is a strong sense of community

Greeting others is very important in Zambia

As I gain life experience and come across a range of different situations, I become more convinced that what we do is not the greatest way that we can make a difference. I believe that instead, we can have a greater impact on others by how we treat them. For example it doesn’t matter how much charity work you do, if you are rude or grumpy with those you come into contact with, then instead of provoking admiration or inspiration, they will be left feeling insulted or that they are a burden. Likewise, even if you feel that the work you do doesn’t make much of a difference, the way you treat those around you may have much more impact than you could ever imagine.

I couldn’t think of a better example of someone who embodies this philosophy than my Nan, Hope, who passed away last week, the day before her 91st birthday. I think everyone who met her would like to be a bit more like her. She didn’t ask for a lot or live a flashy, showy life, but how she lived had a huge impact on all her family and friends. She was the most positive person I’ve ever known; she saw the best in people, accepted them without judging, and loved and cared for people in a very genuine way. She had a strong and simple faith, knowing that God loved her and always sharing that love with others.

Me with my lovely Nan

When I consider the people that I admire the most, it does not tend to be the tasks they undertake that inspire me, but instead the attitude and character that is shown through what they do. Therefore, learning a lesson from the Zambians, I've come to understand the importance of making time for people, and that it is how we treat those around us that has the most enduring impact on them. 

1 comment:

  1. Ellie, I've only just read this one for some reason. It's wonderful. Says it all! Sending you a big hug. xxxxx