PART TWO:IMPORTANT TO KNOW THE CULTURE IF YOU ARE TRYING TO HELP IN ORDER TO DEVELOP SUSTAINABLE CHANGES
August 11, 2012 I wrote Part One of this article which is the short version of my 4 year study on why there is little if any progress in Livingstone Zambia. While you may be going to a different culture or are helping in your own land, I thought it would be nice to share my findings with you so that we can sensitize ourselves to what could possibly make us be more effective, no matter our country of interest and service.
5. HEADMASTER: Street Orphans and vulnerable children can only go to a poor Basic school, Grade 1-9. These are government run . These children must pay high school fees, PTA fees, uniform fees and some other fees. They are not given pencils, paper or textbooks. This population does not even have money for a meal. Sponsorship is their only hope. But sponsorship has also become "big business". For example, a headmaster brought a 7th grader to my hotel. He espoused this orphan's intelligence and seriousness about school. After an interview with him and after he spent 3 days with us, we felt he would be a good person to sponsor. So, we did. We do not just give the normal school fees and uniform. We buy textbooks for each subject, pens, paper, study guides, tuitions/tutoring during the week and everything else a child from a privileged family would receive. This particular boy lived far from the school and had to walk through bulls. So, we bought him a bicycle too. At the end of the school year we learned that he was being double sponsored. Many kids are triple sponsored and the school gets the money.
The headmasters at these Basic Schools are an hour and a half late for everything. On many appointments they do not even show up when I would go for my appointment time to discuss putting electric in the school, buying desks and chairs and other needs. So, in each case I AM ONE IN A MILLION did not honor their commitment to do the above. Since then we have made a decision to help individuals only, never a school that is not our own. Though our organization is known as a "sure fire" way to improve a students chances of success in life, the headmasters do not care and do nothing to help us or welcome us.
For example, in Basic Schools, no one reads because there are no books, no school library and the public library has books dating back to 1854 only.So, at one of the schools where I had developed a pleasant relationship with the headmaster, I brought the headmaster written information on "ROOM TO READ" programs and how to reach them. This is the innovative program that won a 10 year award for its effectiveness with this population in developing countries. John Woods, then age 35, left Microsoft to teach dhildren in Third World Countries to read. He built colorful reading rooms, had them filled with interesting books at all levels with comfortable seats. After school and on Saturdays all age children can go there and hang out and read. I explained to this headmaster that I would help with it. His eyes passed over the article, he stuck it under a pile of papers and in 1 1/2 years he has never mentioned it, despite my occasional inquiry. There appears to be little verification that reading matters. Money matters.
Headmasters have their meetings with teachers during class time. When called out of the class, the teachers tell the street orphans to rewrite. Rewrite means, going over past homework and tests then correcting the wrong answers in preparation for studying for government mid-term and end-of-term tests. All teaching is done for the test. There is no cerebral learning. That makes multiple choice tests questions almost impossible as well as creating other issues.
Role modeling: Every meeting the headmaster planned to have with Wendy, when she arrived hew as either gone for the day, had an emergency or showed up 1 1/2 hours late.
6. PILFERAGE;l Almost anything sent to Livingstone Zamibia would be stolen and sold unless we made arrangements with someone we trusted to receive it. Even then once when over 200 USD was sent to a manager who was a friend of Wendy, the intended purpose for street orphan food, the lady stole the money and refused to give it to the kids. This is a woman Wendy had financially helped open a business and had business cards made. There was nothing that could be done about this.
7. POOR QUALITY OF TEACHERS: The teachers in Basic government School are hungry themselves, suffer from the same needs as street orphans in many cases. They have children who are hungry also. Many are not educated, many are volunteers and most were street orphans themselves. One time when we sent a box of books to start a library at one Basic school, months later the books were still in the box.Or had been sold.
8. BRAIN DRAIN: Following in Zimbabwe's footsteps, Zambia now suffers from "brain drain". Educated people have left the country; good lawyers, doctors, teachers, journalists. They are paid so little, they cannot afford to buy a house, feed their families or give an acceptable standard of living for their family. My first time in Zambia (2006) I worked along side a doctor in a hut. He said that in the 6-7 years he had been working there he had seen NO progress. He was leaving shortly for Libya to work. He could not afford an apartment, had to live with a friend and could not even afford a car.
9. PHYSICAL: No understanding, diagnosis or treatment of the following:
Babies heads shaking (not supported) which contributes to lack of brain development
TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury)
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Learning Disabilities i.e. ADHD, ADD, Dyslexia
I will continue with Part Three soon.