Sunday, December 20, 2015

End of Year Reflection

As Christmas approaches and 2015 ends, I reflect upon this journey so far.  Between October and mid-November I visited 22 schools where I observed and conversed with 65 teachers.  I remain impressed by the commitment of the CCAP community school teachers.   I observed happy students who enjoy attending school, teachers with a strong sense of calling to this important work, and learning in spite of limited resources.

  • Schools in Lusaka and the Copperbelt have fewer resources than Eastern Province, especially books, materials, and building development.  This may be due to many more community schools in the city than in the rural areas and therefore the government has fewer resources and materials to support schools in the cities. Also, some western partners work only in the rural areas and not the cities. Support is needed for all schools but especially those in the cities.
  • Many, but not all, of our most skilled teachers have left.  Retention of teachers is difficult due to lack of pay.  Some highly skilled teachers who remain in CCAP schools have reported they are “looking for greener pastures.” The need for self-sustaining, income generating projects that can provide payment for teachers is urgent in order to retain quality teachers.
  • 70% of the teachers have received one training only and 63% of those received their only training in 2015 because they have been working with CCAP for less than a year.

I will return for the month of February to Lusaka and the Copperbelt.  My plan is to spend time with each teacher modeling, consulting, and coaching.  I will also work closely with Mabuchi to train her in how to do the same so that the program will be self-sustaining after I leave.

Training Plan for February:
  • In the first 45 minutes, I will model a lesson of the teachers’ choice from a menu of possible lessons.  Ideally, 2 teachers will observe at a time along with Mabuchi.
  • Using guided questions, teachers will make notes regarding teaching practices they observed.
  • Each teacher will then have a “pre-conference” with Mabuchi and me to discuss the lesson we will observe.
  • The teacher will then give a 30 – 45 minute lesson, receive positive feedback from us, and suggestions upon their request.   Head teachers will also be welcomed to sit in with permission from the observed teacher.
  • After working with all schools, Mabuchi and I will return a week or so later and complete a 15 minute walk-through with written feedback.
  • Follow-up training for teachers will be provided in a workshop format.

As the year comes to an end, please consider making a tax-deductable contribution to this project at

I have raised around $1000, my church will contribute $3500 but I still need approximately $4000 to complete this work. Below are the costs from the fall trip and estimates for the February and Spring trips. If you have specific questions, please contact me directly via email at

FALL TRIP (1 trip – 6 weeks)
Doha to Swaziland/Zambia and back + trip to Ndola
Ground transport
Taxi, bus, CCAP vehicle – Lusaka & Eastern Province
Groceries, dining out – about $5.00/day
Guest Houses in Eastern Province
Solar Panel
Computer & phone charging during daily power outages
SIM card, data, internet
Insurance, doctor visits
Teacher Training
One day for 12 teachers – food, materials, cooks, bus fare
 Total  3030
FEBRUARY & SPRING TRIPS (2 trips – 4 weeks & 6 weeks)
Doha to Lusaka, Lusaka to Doha (2 trips)
Ground Transport
Bus & CCAP vehicle – Lusaka, Ndola & Eastern Province
Groceries, dining out – about $5.00/day
Spring Trip only
SIM card, data, internet
Insurance, doctor visits
Teacher Training
2 days/30 teachers in Lusaka/40 teachers in Eastern Province

Total  5260

Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Visiting Chirundu and Chaminuka

Dr. Chilenje, Mr. Ngalube, Diane, Nancy, me, & Rev. Banda  (Rev. Phiri was the photographer)
I was grateful to have a couple days off to visit some parts of Zambia I had not seen before.  My host Nancy, took the synod leaders, our guest Diane and myself, a couple hours south to where the Kafue and Zambezi Rivers meet.   On one side of the water is Zambia and the other – Zimbabwe in an area called Chirundu.  We traveled in a 10-passenger boat along the river where we spotted hippos, elephants, crocodiles, numerous waterfowl as well as local villagers.  This is not part of a game reserve but rather just part of nature.  The photos tell the whole story.  Thanks to Diane for sharing some of these great shots. 

Carmine bee-eater

Fish Eagle - Zambian symbol of freedom

Stopping on a sandbar for some lunch
One of the many men paddling out to do some fishing

Children posing while their moms wash clothes in the river

A couple days after our Chirundu visit Nancy, Diane, and I visited Chaminuka, a private game reserve and lodge on 10,000 acres.
 The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Sardanis, also have more than 1000 pieces of art and artifacts they have collected from all over Africa over a 50-year period of time.

Here are some of the photos that tell the story of our visit. Again – thank you Diane for sharing your photos – my camera is experiencing “technical difficulties,” which limits my ability to take close-ups.

Some of the wildlife observed from our game drive

Albino frog

Some of the art & artifacts

Relaxing in a hand-carved chair

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Training Day

Not wanting to wait until February to do some training, Mabuchi and I decided that we would take the 12 teachers in Lusaka who had not had any exposure to previous trainings involving engagement strategies and do a quick one-day overview to at least challenge their thinking and get some momentum started.  Perhaps some conversations would start with colleagues who have already received training.
Our youngest trainee attends with dad
The CCAP leadership communicated with the schools, letting them know the date, time, and which teachers were invited to participate. The participants had been with CCAP anywhere from 12 months to 4 days.  My goals were to introduce them to some engagement strategies using concepts of literacy and mathematics, familiarize them with key components of an effective lesson, and challenge their thinking.

We began the day with singing and a homily from the pastor of Mandevu. 
He encouraged the teachers to make good use of the training because the information would help them be better teachers.  He spoke passionately about teaching and learning and the importance of getting the most out of the information presented during the training.  I couldn’t have said it better!

The teachers started out thinking about what things contributed the most to student learning and moved on to what they considered when planning a lesson.  Throughout the process various engagement strategies were utilized and highlighted. I pointed out how the teachers could utilize these same strategies in their classrooms.  It was apparent the teachers were not in a habit of this type of self-reflection or discussion about their practice but seemed to enjoy the process as the day continued.
Teachers take a tea break
After modeling how to plan a lesson, utilize group work, mental math, components of reading and writing, teachers worked in grade-level alike groups to plan a lesson they would use in the coming week. I worked with the primary and intermediate teachers while they worked through the various components of a lesson plan. 
Grade 6 & 7 teachers plan a science lesson about electricity together

Mabuchi took the pre-school teachers who shared a variety of games and songs they could use to teach basic concepts of math and literacy.  

We asked for feedback at the end of the day.  Most of the teachers expressed their willingness to try some of the strategies they had learned.  Some really saw that teaching involves thinking and creativity rather than just reading out of the teacher's guide.   Most expressed having their thinking challenged in new ways. Others expressed a desire to know more. Mabuchi and I recognized this was a good start.

Mabuchi keeps track of those who attended and takes notes for the next training

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Off to the Copperbelt

CCAP Leaders in Kitwe
Copperbelt Province as its name indicates, is where several major copper mines are located.  The Zambians have used copper for centuries in their jewelry but it wasn’t until the 1920s when the British began mining copper using the latest technology at that time that copper was exported on a large scale. The Copperbelt grew quickly in the 1960s as Zambia’s economy was closely tied to copper exports and copper value increased.  Despite the ups and downs of the copper market, the Copperbelt still boasts the country’s second and third largest cities in Zambia – Kitwe and Ndola. 

I have wanted to visit the Copperbelt for some time now knowing CCAP had at least one school there.  My friend Rev. Kondwani pastored a church in Kitwe and I had promised to visit her the next time I returned to Zambia.  Although visiting Kondwani is only possibly through my memories, I could partially honor my promise to her by visiting the CCAP school.  In the interest of time I made a quick trip to Ndola and Kitwe flying up and back in the same day. 
My hosts - Rev Nyirenda, Rev Chunga, and Mr. Ndhlovu
I was greeted warmly at the Ndola airport by these members of the CCAP. (see photo) After breakfast at a local restaurant we started off to Kitwe – about 30 minutes from there.  
The school is part of the CCAP Kwacha church.  
Teachers of Kwacha - Victor is in purple - head teacher seated in front
I was reintroduced to Victor, a teacher who received training back in 2012.  The others had not been trained although the head teacher is a retired government school teacher.  The school serves 184 students in pre-school through grade 7 with four teachers.  The head teacher does not teach classes but he does walk through and inspires the students with songs and chants. The building is a make-shift structure seen in the photo below.
School building
 I was able to spend a bit of time interviewing the pastor and head teacher about the strengths and challenges of the school and community.  66% of the students are girls, a fact that is encouraging since there is an emphasis among the CCAP to support “the girl child.”  The downside is many families in the community send their boys to government schools because they perceive the government school to be better than the community school and a community school  education is "good enough" for girls.  Either way children are getting an education. 
I observe a lesson about the skeleton

Students seem a little more interested in the "visitor" than the lesson

Chiwemwe Church
After leaving Kwacha I visited Chimwemwe church the church of Rev. Chunga and Elder Patrick Ndhlovu.  The pastor and congregation would like to start a school but want a way to fund it first.  They are building a reception hall that can be rented for various events.  
Foundation and beginning of the new reception hall building
The plan is to use money they make from renting the hall as a venue to help pay teacher salaries.  After the reception hall is built they will start building the school. 

I enjoyed the day with my gracious CCAP hosts and told them I would like to return in February for some training with the teachers. 
Students take notes from the board about the branches of government

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Tale of Two Villages

 In 2011 Bob and I visited the villages of Ikwele (pronounced e-quay-lay) and Kachere.  At the time Ikwele school served 230 students in grades 1 – 5 with two teachers. The community had made over 200,000 bricks to complete the school.  The source of water was this uncovered shallow well.  Below are some of the photos I took of the building and the community at that time. 
Community members sit proudly in front of their school in 2011
The open shallow well (2011)
I am happy to report that four years later they have not only completed the brick building but another larger building as well.  The old well is gone and a borehole is available for the community. 

The school serves 320 students in grade 1 – 7 with eight teachers making the class size average 40 students to one teacher rather than 115 students to one teacher.  The school reports they have a feeding program called Mary’s Meal for the children organized through an NGO. They also mentioned using a program called Teaching for Transformation introduced to them by the CCAP that emphasizes Bible study and prayer and the students and teachers are really enjoying it. 
The teachers with Mabuchi in front of their new school
Bob and I pose with members of the village and CCAP (2011)
The second village is Kachere (or Kachele since “r” and “l” are interchangeable)  In 2011 I noted that the building was comprised of several poles with some thatch on the top for a roof (see photo below). There were two teachers serving 98 three – six year olds for 3 hours each day.  They had no primary school at the time. Of course there were no materials to teach primary school such as books, paper or pencils if they had wanted.  The teachers at the time reported making home visits to encourage parents to send their children to school but many parents were discouraged by the extreme poverty and didn’t see how education would be helpful.  The women were walking several kilometers a day to get water.  I remember being grateful I was wearing sunglasses so the teachers weren’t able to see the tears welling up in my eyes when I looked around and saw what I viewed to be a bleak situation.  
School building in 2011 - note the little one in the foreground
In my principal's office at home I kept a copy of the 
The young one front and center - four years later
photo above to remind myself of how much we have and how grateful we should be.  I was happy to meet the little girl in the foreground in the purple and white dress when I visited this time.  She and her friends posed for this new picture.   
Mabuchi and the teachers at the borehole
Kachere is probably the most encouraging story I have seen thanks to this hard working community and some generous sponsors.  A church in New Jersey donated the borehole that was recently completed.  And a sponsor in California has helped with the beautiful school building. 
This woman now carries clean water only a short distance to her home
Teachers and students pose in front of their new building
The school has five teachers serving 120 students in grades 1 – 4.  They have some teaching materials and are anticipating furniture in the future.  They were proud to show us their school, their community, and the historic Kachere tree for which the village is named.

The Kachere tree