2023 Zambia Trip
Marymount’s Zambia Trip brought 14 High School students and 3 faculty members to Zambia for an exceptional service opportunity at the RSHM Mission schools in Choma. This immensely rewarding experience allowed our students to learn first-hand about the RSHM's work in Zambia by volunteering at Kalunda Ka Maria, St. Mulumba Special School and the Hospice of Alternative Care and engaging these schools' students in a variety of learning and play activities. Upon their return our students have been working together with the House leadership team and the Zambia Committee in creating a number of fundraising events in support for the schools in Zambia (our Abana Project) for the remainder of the academic year, sharing their unique experience and knowledge with the rest of our community.
Today was our first full day in Choma, Zambia. After over 24 hours of travel, we found ourselves exhausted but eager to explore the town. We started our morning at St. Mary’s Parish, celebrating the 9:00 family Mass. Though we were strangers to the Parish, we were welcomed as soon as we stepped out of the van by both members of the community and RSHM Sister Aelita. The ceremony, held in both English and the local Tonga, was filled with traditional music and dance. After Mass, students had the opportunity to interact with the Parish children and meet with Sister Aelita to discuss the week ahead.
Later, our tour guides Neville and Steven drove us through the main town of Choma. We saw the different marketplaces, artisan workshops, fields of flowers, and historic sites, and benefitted from our tour guides’ descriptions of each. We furthered our knowledge of the town’s history at the Choma Museum and Crafts Center. One of the museum workers was kind enough to give us a personal tour of the museum, highlighting different pieces of both Choma and Zambia’s history.
After browsing the museum, we ate lunch together at PMB Snacklite, located on the museum’s grounds. This gave us the opportunity to try traditional Zambian cuisine- roasted chicken, goat, guinea fowl, and fish, sauteed rabe leaves, and nshima.
We ended the day in town by attending a Division One soccer match at the local stadium. We supported the home team, Barts FC, who played against the Livingstone Pirates. Though a long way from Stadio Olimpico, the excitement and passion of both sides of fans was contagious.
Today, we finally visited Kalunda Ka Maria- our sister school in Choma. In the morning, we experienced a bit of a delay due to the road conditions. Because of Choma’s position, the clay roads turn to muddy potholes each time it rains, which takes expert driving and navigation skills to maneuver. When our driver Stephen determined that he could drive no further, we exited the bus and finished our commute to Kalunda Ka Maria’s campus on foot. We were escorted by some of Choma’s local children, who were curious and excited to meet and chat with us while we walked to the school.
We were warmly welcomed to the school by students and teachers alike- though this may be an understatement. While Ms. Hardin met with Sister Aelita and Headmaster Oliver, our Marymount students took the opportunity to meet and play with the school children of all ages and grade levels. We then took a tour of Kalunda Ka Maria’s campus, guided by Headmaster Oliver. We visited each classroom and office building, and viewed the grounds and facilities. Before breaking for lunch, we had the opportunity to interact with the children. Dancing, singing, running, drawing, playing soccer, and yoga were just some of the activities seen around the school yard. Most visibly, and most importantly, was a smile on every face.
After our lunch break, we returned to Kalunda Ka Maria for an afternoon in the classrooms with the primary school children. Our Marymount students were welcomed to nine classrooms for grades one through six. Alongside the Kalunda Ka Maria teachers, our students had the opportunity to directly interact with students in their school setting: by teaching lessons, supporting individual students with their assignments, playing games, singing songs, and sharing each other’s language. It was difficult to say goodbye at the end of the school day, but fortunately we will be returning to Kalunda Ka Maria on Wednesday and Thursday morning.
Day three in Choma was spent at the Hospice of Alternative Care, a community school for children who have been impacted by long term diseases, such as HIV, tuberculosis, and cancer. Before interacting with the children, students met with “Auntie” Memory to learn more about HAC’s mission and programming. We had the opportunity to spend time with elementary-aged children in the morning and with teenagers in the afternoon. Together, we played intense soccer matches, created masterpiece drawings, made friendship bracelets, learned different dances, and laughed non-stop. It was a truly unforgettable day.
This morning, our students became the teachers - when we visited Kalunda Ka Maria for the second time, we were invited into 8th and 9th grade classrooms to lead lessons. Our students delivered interactive lessons on language, government, biology, and math. We were impressed at our students’ passion and creativity, and their students’ engagement and enthusiasm. Following the lessons, we enjoyed time socializing and playing with Kalunda Ka Maria students of all ages. As this was our second time at the school, and as some children from HAC are also KKM students, we were delighted to reunite with old friends while making new ones.
In the afternoon, we were welcomed to St. Mulumba Special School. St. Malumba is a boarding school for students across Zambia with diverse learning needs, such as students who are blind, deaf, or have physical and intellectual disabilities. We were given a tour of St. Mulumba’s campus and met a number of teachers to learn more about the programs offered. In particular, we visited the therapy center, sign language classrooms, and science labs. We even had a chance to learn some phrases in ASL to help us communicate with the learners. Following the tour, students gathered for an assembly in their front garden to greet us officially. With the help of translators, we each introduced ourselves to the group and were given special names by the students in ASL. After the assembly, we went to the staff room to learn about the history, successes, and challenges of St. Mulumba’s. We will return to the school on Thursday to share a more interactive afternoon with the learners as they break into their clubs.
We ended the evening at St. Mary’s Parish to celebrate Ash Wednesday. Again, the ceremony was beautiful and inspiring. At the end, we met with some familiar faces from Sunday’s service to say goodbye (for now).