This week I’m in Zambia, meeting with our staff, various partners and a few government officials. What a pleasure it was to talk with professor Elwyn Chomba, Zambia’s Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Community Development, Mother and Child Health. ChildFund is committed strengthening our partnership with Zambia’s government to address the growing needs of vulnerable children and youth. We agreed that working collaboratively is the best way to maximize resources to benefit children.
I’m also getting out to communities to visit children and families. After a four-hour road trip yesterday afternoon, we arrived in Luangwa district where ChildFund Zambia implements a number of grant-funded projects. Luangwa is located about 215 miles from Zambia’s capital city, Lusaka. The climate is quite dry here. Luckily it’s the “cold season,” so the weather is comfortable—not too hot. The area is not densely populated; in fact, I learned that there are only 20,000 people in the entire district.
Because I’m visiting from ChildFund’s headquarters, I was invited to dedicate a newly constructed preschool for the children of Chikondwelelo. It’s exciting to meet with our local partner, the Luangwa Child Development Agency, and see this brand new facility. What’s most important is that children here no longer will have to wait to age 7 to start on a healthy development and learning path, as is the case when there’s no preschool. The community is very enthusiastic, and the class was already full. Already, we can see that expansion will be needed.
For the dedication, or commissioning ceremony as they call it here, the children were dressed up with their futures in mind. Those who wanted to be policemen and policewomen were dressed in police uniforms. Nurses were a favorite career choice, too. I did not see or hear anyone say they wanted to be president. Or, maybe they didn’t know how a president should dress! Just the fact that they were reciting poems and singing songs about their ambitions was impressive.
I also was pleased to see a strong turnout by parents, especially mothers, signaling their support for their children’s healthy development and education. They sang and danced. I always like dancing, so I joined in. It was a day to celebrate children.