This is my favorite time in the annual rhythm of the project in Kantolomba.
The Zambian schoolyear ends in December. As final test scores come in and things wind down, Theresa, Sreedevi, and I take time to talk about each of the 52 girls and women in the Girls Program. How is each one doing academically? Is she moving on to the next grade? Is she graduating? Do we need to be looking at a transition for her? What’s her current family situation? Will she need any extra support in the coming year—financially, academically, emotionally, health-related, or otherwise?
It’s an extraordinary process that entails hours of Skype calls over the course of a number of weeks. What a privilege it is to work in an organization that places such value on paying attention at that intimate level—a direct experience of what we say often in Practice: Attention is the highest form of love.
With each girl on the list, Theresa goes through the family details: She is one of seven children and is the fourth-born. She has older siblings who dropped out of school early and were married at a young age, now with children of their own. She has three younger siblings, all of whom are in school and also in the Living Compassion nutrition program. One of her younger sisters has sickle cell anemia and has managed to pass her national grade 7 exams, even with on-and-off poor health, and has shown herself to be capable of managing her health condition, including taking herself to the clinic when regular medications are needed.
Theresa continues in this way, giving us information on every one of the siblings—names, grades, school status, if they are still in Kantolomba, if not, where they live and with whom. When we remark on the intricate details Theresa is able to recall, she always responds the same way, “This is my community. These are the people I love. It is my great honor and responsibility to know the families of all of my children. It all matters.”
In the spirit of that same love, of the sense of community, of caring, a number of folks in Sangha have taken on a challenge in support of the project in Kantolomba. If you are moved to participate by sponsoring one of the many inspiring challenges underway, visit our gallery to choose one or more!