The first exciting event of the year has already happened for us as a team. We have had a new member of staff join our Zambia team as of the beginning of the month, Sheba Moyo. Sheba will be involved in improving standards at the schools we partner with but will also be facilitating the Jolly Phonics pilot this year. We are excited about what she will bring to our team and to the schools we work with.
As we embark on the Jolly Phonics pilot this year, we feel we are sailing into new territory for us as a team. We are well versed in mentorship and in the teaching of literacy but expanding this to 22 schools is a big project for us. But, we are convinced Jolly Phonics is a fantastic resource and with the right training and mentorship, this resource could impact thousands of children in Zambia. It’s worth venturing into unchartered territory when we consider the potential positive impact of this.
The ongoing mentorship and support we give to the three community schools we partner with, couldn’t be closer to our hearts. Every year the head teachers we work with grow in their roles and we have a sense of anticipation as we look ahead to this coming year as we think about their leadership. They continue to raise the standards in their schools and be leaders in their communities.
We plan on investing time and energy into making some culturally relevant reading resources this year. This is something we’ve chipped away at for a couple of years now but feel like this is the year we will put our heads down to get this done. Together with the Jolly Phonics resources, these reading books could really impact literacy. It is energising to think about this potential.
We have four secondary school teams visiting Zambia this year, two from schools who have never sent a team here before. Between the four teams there will be about 65 young people that will visit us. We look forward to seeing these pupils engage in new experiences and have their eyes opened to new ways of doing things but also have their worldview’s challenged.
All that said, this year hasn’t started as we had hoped and planned! There has been an outbreak of cholera in Zambia. The outbreak has mainly been in Lusaka but there have been confirmed cases throughout Zambia, including the cities in which we live and work. The latest numbers are that there have been at least 2700 people infected with cholera. Because of this, all schools (nursery to tertiary) have been ordered by the government to be closed for the month of January and there are also restrictions on public gatherings of people for events such as weddings, funerals and church. With these measures in place, as well as several others, it is everyone’s hope that the outbreak will be contained quickly.
All of the schools we work with are closed for all of January and we had seven days of Jolly Phonics training planned for this month which have needed to be postponed. As a team we are continuing to work with the head teachers this month and are focusing on writing up some school policies as well as doing additional planning for the term ahead. We are also taking a bit of time to homeschool our own children who are also not in school this month!
If you are one to pray, please pray this outbreak is contained quickly so people stay well and so schools can resume in February. Thank you!
Here’s to an exciting and adventurous 2018!
By Melissa Whitcombe