Sunday, June 14, 2009
It has taken me three weeks to document our incredible journey to Africa. Our final 24 hours in Africa, for me, were the most inspiring. I spent nearly 18 months preparing, planning, saving for, and anticipating our trip to Africa.
Like most of our fellow travelers, James and I enjoy ‘going local’. We tend to wander off the beaten track –travelling by bus or rail to areas that aren’t considered ‘tourist’ attractions.
We came upon our last lodge, The Islands of Siankaba, when our travel advisor, Julian suggested this area would meet my request to visit a village and contribute in a small way to the local community.
The directors of the lodge are truly committed to ‘giving back’ to their community. The staff at the lodge is all local villagers. They not only work at the lodge but they literally carried the logs that the lodge was built from. The Directors met with the local chief and an agreement was struck. Everyone involved would benefit from the opening of the lodge.
Profits from the lodge support a medical clinic and pre-school on the Island. I had requested in advance to take a walking tour of both these facilities. Given we arrived on the island on Friday, May 22, we missed seeing the school in session. Our host, Jean Claude, arranged for us to dine on Saturday evening with the headmaster of the pre-school - Malindi Lubinda.
Malindi was a barman at the lodge when the Directors took note of his intellect and ambition. They paid for Malindi to attend college. Upon completion of his studies, Malindi returned to the Island and established the pre-school. I was so inspired by Malindi’s passion for educating the children and setting an example of excellence for them. We shared a wonderful evening together: Ed and Marty, me and James, Malindi and Steven – our host for the evening meal. We laughed, shared stories and experiences and truly became friends over the course of the evening.
Malindi teaches 55 children (ages 3-7) in this classroom:
Here is the foundation for the new pre-school:
This is the village store:
This is the village church:
Here are some more images from our visit to the village:
Here is a photo of Malindi and I after a lovely evening of great conversation and fine dining:
Here, James and Victor - our village guide and host- pose outside the walls of the village:
James and I remain committed to the village and the pre-school. Malindi and I are in contact via email about twice a week - checking in on each other and sharing news about events in Zambia and Virginia. If you are interested in helping Malindi with the preschool - be it through book donations, children's clothing, etc. Please leave me a comment and I will give you the address for them.