Today we drove back from Livingstone to Lusaka, but this year we had an added activity along the way. Instead of visiting the Haven we can now call them another one of our special community partners as we stopped to screen the ~45 children there. We left Chanters Lodge feeling sad that we may not go back there (depending on what happens to the Lodge) and remembering Mr. Chanter.
Arriving at the Haven at about 9:30 we started screening and finished about 1:00 and were on our way for the rest of the drive back….here is a reflection on the day:
The Haven is an orphanage that watches after children anywhere from several weeks to 5 years old or however long it may take to find a safe place for the child. But this isn’t like any other orphanage because their mission is to temporarily care for the children until they can place them back in their own families. Usually, the children need to stay at the orphanage because the family doesn’t have the means to care for them at the time, their mother passed away or some situations were not safe for them. Meagan Hawley, who is from the United States, is the head person at The Haven who kept the place running. It was inspiring to see how she interacted with the children, the local people, and how much respect was given to her for all the work she is putting in there (google “The Haven” to follow her blog and search “Megan Hawley” on Instagram to keep up with happenings at The Haven! You can even buy a t-shirt to help buy a school bus for the children). There were also college students from Harding University there on a mission trip to work and stay with these children for five weeks. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to interact with these students much or hear their stories but it was awesome to see other students from the United States in Zambia trying to do work where it was needed. Although some of these children’s stories were heart breaking, it was remarkable to see they had a safe and happy place to be.
This was the first more hectic day our team has experienced. We were mostly screening babies under the age of three, so from experience, I know that we work on their schedule. I love all of our team that is here and we were able to overcome the chaos and get our job done. I was really proud of everyone, especially the undergraduate students on the trip who have less experience screening younger babies. The girls on this trip have made it truly special and I am so thankful for the friendships I have made through such a unique experience.
At The Haven, I was holding a child who was 8 months old waiting to be screened. He was crying, could not calm down and I tried everything in my power to quiet him down so we could screen him. I finally got Megan, the one in charge at The Haven, and asked what could be wrong with him and if there was anything I could do. She told me that she would take him because he just doesn’t take well a to white person other than herself, who is with him everyday. This was somewhat shocking to me since the majority of the children we have been screening have adjusted well to all of us. The Haven is about 5 hours from Lusaka and this isolation from the city may be the reason why they are not more exposed to white people versus the children we have been working with previously in Zambia’s capital city of Lusaka. This whole situation was a unique experience for me!
Up until today, I have loved the work we are doing, but haven’t really felt like I personally was making much of an impact here in Zambia. A special experience today changed that. I worked with a 30-year-old woman who had a hearing aid but it was not working properly for her. It was given to her without a full hearing evaluation 10 years ago and she hasn’t been able to hear well since. I screened her, although there was a known hearing loss and gave proper recommendations. I had to talk to her father because she did not understand English. When I was done counseling him about her situation, he asked me why I was here in Zambia. I discussed the mission of our group, to screen and identify children with hearing loss or children who need immediate medical attention, and push for them to get the proper help that they need. He shook my hand, hugged me and told me that we were doing God’s work and that God is with us always in what we do here in Zambia as well as in the future. He wouldn’t let me leave without knowing his full gratitude and appreciation for what we were doing here. This was a special moment that made me realize even though our work may be small in the grand scheme of things, we are here doing something and hopefully in the long run, this program can leave a larger impact on Zambia and the people here who need our help most.