My name is Valentina and I have been volunteering here in Livingstone, Zambia for three weeks now.
My experience in Africa so far has been amazing. The people, culture, and wildlife are truly one of a kind. I am so thankful to God, my parents, family and friends for the life I have. The time I have spent here in Zambia has made me truly realize how blessed I am and has inspired me to give back in every way possible. I am so grateful that God choose for me to come here and blessed me with such an amazing experience and opportunity. I have learned so much from the people here and the other volunteers. No matter their circumstances, the people of Zambia stay positive and strong in their faith. Everyone here has been so welcoming, kind, and helpful and they are truly grateful for the time, effort, and donations given by us volunteers.
In my time here I have volunteered at one of the local clinics assisting with screening patients, dispensing medicine, administering vaccinations, health education, and prenatal care. The clinic is extremely basic and lacks many standard resources and sanitation procedures. When I am not at the clinic, I join the other volunteers at one of the community schools for the most vulnerable and underprivileged children. The schools and children lack basic resources we take for granted every single day. The classrooms are also extremely overcrowded with as many as 80 kids in one class and one teacher, which makes learning nearly impossible. Many children do not have backpacks, proper shoes, pencils, notebooks, or even water bottles. However, all the kids are great at sharing what they have; they will share a pencil among three of them. We have noticed children bringing water to school in plastic shopping bags because they do not have proper water containers. As a group, we have begun to collect water bottles to pass out to children who do not have one. The children here are so eager and enthusiastic about learning and attending school. They all have such a strong desire to learn and a great amount of respect and admiration for their teachers and the volunteers.
I have been asking myself what I can do as an individual to make an impact here. These past three weeks, I have been trying to determine what is needed most and by who. After my time in the clinic, at the schools, and in the villages outside of town, I have decided that one of the most beneficial contributions would be to provide shoes to children who are either without shoes or have ill-fitting or torn apart shoes. I have asked around and inquired at local markets and have estimated that with $1,000 I would be able to get approximately 500 pairs of shoes. Any amount in excess would go towards providing school supplies such as pencils, pens, and notebooks, personal hygiene products like toothbrushes, and supplies for the clinic like gloves. Any amount donated is extremely appreciated.
It would be such a blessing for me to provide these children with a new pair of shoes before Christmas. Also, if you would like to send a message to one of the children please leave it as a comment and I will write it on a piece of paper and hand them out. I think the children would love to receive Christmas letters! Christmas is a very big holiday here in Zambia, the major shopping plaza has been decorated with lights and a tree since October and all the stores and restaurants have been playing Christmas music for weeks now! However, Christmas here is not about gifts, but rather Christ, family, love and friendship.
If you have any questions or are interested in helping out further please send me a message!
As I am leaving Zambia on Saturday, December 14, I am hoping to hand them out Thursday and Friday afternoon!
Thank you so much and God bless!
- Heidi Fernandez
- Patricia Krakower
- Angela Cameron