Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Passing on the baton

I consider my role in Zambia (leading the Arise Orphan Project whilst being headteacher of Kapumpe Primary School) to be best 'job' I've ever had. There have been many challenges but the children are a delight and it has been wonderful to see the school grow, staff develop their skills and new Arise projects get off the ground. So many people have asked me why, if I am enjoying the work so much, I am planning to move back to the UK at the end of this term.

Rewarding good behaviour - a lovely bit of the job!

During my time here in Zambia, I have felt that God led me to be here for a time of transition. I didn't however quite anticipate the extent of the transition that both projects would go through during my time here. I didn't imagine Tim and Gemma (my friends who started the school) moving back to the UK at the beginning of my second year here, or growing from one Zambian teacher sharing class responsibility at Kapumpe to five Zambian teachers having sole responsibility for their own classes, and having a Zambian headteacher. I had no idea that Arise would grow to include child sponsorship, college scholarships, a farming project, microloan business training and a youth club. But it has been very exciting to see 
and be a part of the developments.

Arise farming project - the pioneer group

It has been a privilege to lead Kapumpe and Arise and work with a brilliant team during my time here. In a professional context, it has given me an opportunity to use my previous teaching and leadership experience as well as develop new skills, making many mistakes and learning a huge amount along the way. It has also helped to further shape my view of leadership.

I strongly believe that part of leading well is about developing the people that you are working with. The best leaders I have worked for are those who invested in their staff. We need to see potential in people and give them opportunities to develop their skills in such a way that equips them to do more than what their current role entails, and empowers them to excel in the future.

Leading with others

Leading well also involves knowing when it's time to pass on the baton and move on. It can be tempting to stay doing something because it is going well or because you enjoy it, but this could also risk limiting further growth. Handing over the baton gives your successor space to work towards the vision in new ways and enables them to take the work even further, with a new perspective. For example, our new Zambian headteacher at Kapumpe has different skills and experience to me which has already enabled him to spot new opportunities for growth and development. 

New headteacher at Kapumpe

When you look at the big picture, you realise that what's most important is not how much you enjoy your personal role, but rather how the vision and purpose of the projects can be fulfilled to achieve what was set out for the people they are there to support. It is certainly a collective effort. Here in Kaniki we have seen miraculous provision of money and people that I believe has been given by God. The growth of Kapumpe and Arise and any successes are due to them being part of God’s plan for people in Kaniki.

One of our Arise guardians with her granddaughter, a pupil at Kapumpe

As I have said many times, it is a privilege to have had an opportunity to play a small part in the plan here. I want my legacy to be one that empowers others to do more than I could. And although I will be moving back to the UK for the foreseeable future before the end of April, I most definitely hope to return to Kaniki again in the future. I look forward to seeing further development here, and to seeing the wonderful children who I taught in Grade 2 when they complete primary and secondary school and go on to college!


  1. Wow Ellie, such an inspirational post. Well done in everything you've achieved in your time there and I'll be praying for you as you transition to living back here x