Sunday, September 19, 2010

Progress at Trust Community School

Skits. Poems. Songs. And from the gathered community, ululations and dancing and clapping. Three children were chosen to come forward and be dressed in their new school uniforms and sturdy shoes--with every child to be given his/hers before the end of the day. Piles of composition books, pencils and pens were stacked up for distribution. And the City Councilman was in attendance to congratulate them on finalizing the acquisition of the land for the new school.

On Friday I was an Honored Guest again. The occasion was the celebration at Trust Community School of their gifts and their progress.

You may recall an earlier blog about TCS, written on April 24. TCS is an example of a self-determined, asset-based community development project. It has been strengthened by partnerships and investments by individual and organizational donors. Little ceremonies like this one help the community express their gratitude for support. They also offer opportunities for the children to demonstrate what they are learning to the community and the guests.

Racecourse, where TCS is located, was originally a squatters' settlement populated largely by refugee families from the Congo. Now it has a mix of refugees and Zambians, all living in tiny houses without electricity or indoor plumbing. Many of the families are caring for "ovc", orphans and vulnerable children.

The original school was built by the community in 2005 on land loaned to them by a property owner, who planned to sell it after a few years. Knowing that they needed to work on a more permanent location, representatives of the community began the long and complex process of petitioning the Kitwe City Council for a plot of land for the school. Various fees had to be paid to register the school as a charitable entity, to record documents, and to apply for the plot. Many communities become discouraged by the multitude of requirements and give up. This community, and this school, did not. (What is that saying? Success is made up of 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration!)

They kept their vision strong by starting to plan the buildings they would construct when they had the plot. They had architectural drawings to look at, and the existing school to maintain. So they kept on.

The final fee to acquire the plot of land was paid at the beginning of September, thanks to the generous effort of a couple of individuals in the U.S. who sold some of their belongings on ebay to raise the money. The school uniforms and shoes were a gift from a Zambian Non-Governmental Organization impressed by the work of this school. And so we celebrated.

A parent gave thanks. The parents pledged to continue to work for the resources needed to build the new school on the plot of land they have acquired. Thanks were expressed to the teachers for their efforts, to the children for their attendance, to the donors and the board of directors. Prayers were said. There were tears of joy and a sense of movement.

Much is yet to be done, but for today, we celebrated the progress thus far in this tiny corner of the world with so many hopes and dreams.

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