Stay up-to-date on my many adventures with pictures and stories from abroad!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Update from Jessi's parents:

Jessi’s parents, Nancy & John Funk, checking in with an update following an incredible 16 day adventure with Jessi in Zambia. 

We started our journey with a trip to Livingstone, Victoria Falls, bungee jumps, and a safari in Botswana at Chobe National Park.  However, the real highlights of our adventure were the opportunities to spend time with Jessi, visit her village, interact with the Zambians, and meet many of the Peace Corps volunteers serving in Zambia.

We were impressed by the kindness and generosity of all the Zambians we met.  They were curious about life in the United States and we experienced not only an enormous cultural divide, but an economic one literally a world away from the luxuries we have in the US.  What we consider basics; running water, indoor plumbing, electricity, indoor heating, lighting and cooking ability, would be significant luxuries to the Zambians that live in the villages.

Although many Zambians have very little of what most Americans would consider necessities, what we saw from the Zambians was a happiness for what they have, care and concern for friends, and love for their families.  Sometimes you have to go half way around the world for a reminder of what’s truly important in life…

The thrill of our visit was the time we spent living in Zombe village where Jessi works with the Zombe Basic School faculty and students.  Upon arrival we were greeted by several of the village children.  That several grew to dozens, and then well over a hundred within an hour.    

Nancy greeting the children and handing out some of Jessi's many photos of the village children
Will, Jessi's youngest brother, and the village children getting acquainted 

The first evening in the village we were treated to a feast with Jessi’s Zambian family.  The family lives in a hut right next door to Jessi’s and they have treated her like their own daughter.  We are thankful Jessi has Christopher and Peggy as her Zambian tata (father) and mayo (mother).  Seeing what a caring family they are and how they look after Jessi was reassuring to her American parents!

Jessi's Zambian father Christopher
Jessi's Zambian mother Peggy

Dinner preparation took several hours and we were privileged to participate in what would traditionally be women’s only tasks.  Our son, Will, slaughtered his first chicken, Nancy assisted in plucking her first chicken, we all helped prepare pumpkin leaves and pounded ground nuts for a nshima relish, and we talked for hours as the women cooked for well over 15 people on a single fire.

Nancy helping prepare dinner...under supervision!

We shared dinner inside the family hut with Fewdays, the head man of the village, Jessi’s father, Christopher, and his brother.  Jessi’s mayo, the rest of the women, and all the children remained outside.  We felt guilty over the dining arrangements as the women did all the work, but it followed Zambian culture.  
Christopher, Peggy, and the the village head man, Fewdays

We were treated to a visit to the school during our second day in the village.  The faculty and students prepared a singing and dancing program, the head teacher made welcoming remarks, and Jessi offered thanks and recognition to the students.   
Students gather for the presentation
Opening remarks from the head teacher

Wonderful dancing and singing!

Jessi thanked the head teacher, faculty, and students for the warm greeting and entertainment
   Our gift from the school...a chicken!

Nancy presenting gifts for the classrooms and students

Nancy & Will handing out personalized pencils.  
The older students were thankful, 
just more reserved than the younger ones!
Jessi and the faculty

Throughout our visit we met many Peace Corps volunteers.  An impressive group of Americans!  They all have unique and interesting stories, yet have a common bond of service to others.  We were awed by their sacrifices, care for our global community, and their passion for service.  
 Peace Corps Volunteers at the harvest celebration, Umutomolo ceremony, in Mbala

We have a more unique connection with Jessi after sharing her Zambian adventure and a better perspective of the daily challenges she faces, the daily joys she experiences, and the daily impact she has on the Zambians whose lives she touches every day!
Thanks Jessi.  We are proud of you and we love you – Mom & Dad

Sunset on our last day in northern Zambia

Friday, June 8, 2012

Catching up on photos, old and new

First, some photos of the hut ...

The view of some kids on my front porch from the inside of my hut.  You can see my bike storage area on the left and a few chitenge pockets full of books and such on the right.

My bathing shelter and the reason it's not as straight as it once was.

Thanks to my California family, I keep photos of the community up in the hut.  The children love to see themselves in pictures, a rare thing in the village.  A new page always draws a lot of attention, and not just from the kids.

Next, a few pictures from school ...

The grade 6 pupils holding up the letters they wrote to Christ Church Day School's grade 4 class.

The old grade 9 pupils who graduated December 2011.

And our new grade 9 class.

In April, we held Camp GLOW (a girl's empowerment camp) for all the Mbala volunteers and the schools they work with.  Coming soon - more pictures from camp, a description of the success we had this year, our plans for next year's camp, and ideas for how you at home can help make Camp GLOW 2013 an even bigger success!

Now, many of you have asked what we do for fun in the village.
The answer: Many of the same things you do once school is out and work is done.

We sing and dance.

We fly kites.

We play with toys.

We take our animals for walks.

We slide.

We play ball.

We read books (the kids love the Frog and Toad books)

And we just hang out with friends and family!

Finally, as much as you enjoy looking at photos and hearing stories from my time in Zambia, so do the kids here love to see pictures and learn about life in America.  They asked that the next time I share some of their stories I relay a big "Hello!" from them to you.