In the days following the Susu Community Dedication Ceremony, the ELI team was blessed and privileged to visit several schools served by the Susu mobile library program. The team was warmly welcomed by school administrators, teachers and joyful children singing and dancing.
The team was humbled and astonished as they listened to teachers and students testify of how the books and educational supplies provided by ELI had impacted their lives. There were many wonderful school visits, and it was difficult to choose just one for this newsletter. However, we know you'll rejoice as you read the good news from a very special school with 1000 students located on the edge of Kabwe - just before you turn down the long road to Susu.
Hope Villa Zambia
As the ELI team walked to the entrance of Hope Villa School, hundreds of smiling children of all ages stretched out their hands to welcome these visitors from America. It took quite awhile to greet all these precious children; of course we had to stop often for a hug. Priceless. Finally, we passed through the school gates and found ourselves in the cheerfully decorated courtyard.
Doors and support poles were decorated with handmade paper chains and bright colored balloons. Hundreds more children were awaiting our arrival and broke into song as they presented us with beautiful flowers.
One by one, representatives from the classes (pre-school to middle school age) stepped forward to read from a book supplied by ELI or give a personal testimony about how the small library had contributed to their educational growth.
One young man had graduated from Hope Villa and had qualified to attend high school. He made a special trip to attend this ceremony and speak with us. We, as a group were very moved listening to his articulate and heartfelt speech. He shared about the books that had opened his eyes to the world, and opportunities beyond his impoverished neighborhood
After the children finished their performances, Mrs. Mpuzi spoke with Lana and described how the few textbooks and story books were shared amongst 1,000 children.
The school is very crowded and lacks so many resources, but Mrs. Mpuzi's creativity and love for these children was so obvious. Lana asked her how the school began, and this was her answer:
"My husband John and I started our school in 2007 in a small way. We had no money or anything. We started in our rented home with our own children as students. Then the neighbor’s children joined us and we were able to raise a small amount of money to buy chairs and two tables. We kept advertising our school and the work we were doing caught the attention of our community. They were impressed with our creativity and the love that we had for the children. Our school kept growing. We started with Christ as our foundation; the school is a gift to our community. It has developed greatly in terms of academic performance, especially after we partnered with Elizabeth's Library. Everyone wants their children to attend a school with books for their children to read. The children kept coming; now we have 1000 students! Despite all the challenges we face, God has been with us and we have continued to provide education and guidance to ensure that learning and development continue."
Before the team left for the day, Mrs. Mpuzi introduced us to a local pastor, who visits the school once a week to provide Christian education. "Can you imagine, asked Mrs. Mpuzi, we do not even have one Bible for these children to read."
Upon learning that Hope Villa students needed Bibles, the Susu Community Library immediately sent two Children’s Bibles. Only two were available as Children's Bibles are in high demand and the library inventory was very low.
Mr. Kenneth visited Hope Villa two weeks after the Bibles were received. New Bible clubs, led by student leaders had been established. Kenneth listened as the young leaders read to their groups with a Q&A to follow about the passage. Mr. Kenneth was surprised at this quick development, so he also asked the listeners questions and they all responded correctly. One can see the labor and fruit of Mrs. Mpuzi at work!
Mr. Kenneth, our EL Zambia Director, and his team receive many applications from schools requesting to be included in the mobile library program. The schools must first complete an application form, and then Kenneth and his team make a site visit to discuss the care and use of the books. It's quite a process, so visiting Hope Villa and seeing the results first hand was an encouraging affirmation of the ELI vision.
Our ELI Directors have faithfully reported with pictures and stories, how the mobile library program meets real educational needs for individuals, schools and communities. Hearing personal testimonies and actually meeting the readers confirms our commitment to continue this program, however we need your involvement. Your financial support purchases quality books, educational resources and Children's Bibles for all ages; as well as shipping costs and African staff support. Please consider becoming a regular supporter or make a generous one time gift. It is our prayer and hope that the mobile library program will continue to thrive. There are children eagerly waiting for these resources. Together we can make that happen. Thank you!