4.5 weeks of orientation are now done. A couple of weeks ago, we had a discussion with Lynn, the Operations Director at Hands, and a good friend dating back to when Byron first started with Hands in 2008, about our role going forward. We knew that it was likely we would be sent to one of the other 7 countries that Hands operates in after orientation but we really didn’t have a preference for any particular country. It was difficult to feel led in a certain direction, having never been to any of the other countries before. We basically put our faith in the leadership at Hands to place us where we would be best suited and most needed. That place has now been determined … Zambia!
We are actually leaving for Zambia tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 4:00 am to make the long, 3-day journey by car, in which we will be driving up our recently purchased car (more on that in a future post). Luckily, we won’t have to make the journey by ourselves as there are several other people from Hands heading up to Zambia for an internal workshop being hosted for the Regional Support Teams, which we are now a part of. We will also have the opportunity to spend the next three days with Kristi and Daytona in our car, another married couple in our intake, who have been posted to a different region in Zambia. We’ll know each other real well by the end of the trip!
So here are the dets … We have been posted to a city called Kitwe which, according to Wikipedia, is the second largest city in Zambia with a population of over 500,000. Some of the leaders here at Hands think that the population is actually closer to 1,000,000. Remember, Hands’ vision is to reach into the poorest of the poor communities, so we will likely be doing a lot of our work in the surrounding villages. While there, we will be part of the Regional Support Team that supports Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi. Our specific role, however, will be to support the Kitwe Service Center which, in turn, supports 9 different community based organizations in the surrounding region.
Initially, the plan was for us to be posted there until Christmas and then to be posted to a different location after Christmas. The plan is now for us to be posted in Kitwe until at least the end of April. From what we have heard from everyone at Hands, Kitwe already has an amazing team of local people with huge hearts to care for and serve the most vulnerable. What they are lacking is more of the capacity and organizational components, which is where our skills will hopefully be utilized. Apparently, Kitwe is positioned as a model service center but there is a long-term need to build capacity there, hence the reason we will now be there for at least the next 6 months. Our role for then next little while up until Christmas time will be to soak everything in and build relationships. It would be foolish and ignorant to think that we can step right into a situation and immediately produce results. We need time to understand each of the different communities we are serving and what their unique needs are. We need time to get to know the careworkers, the service center coordinators, and the members Regional Support Team. It is extremely important that we have patience and grace during this period. There is a tendency for us Westerners, when dealing with Africans, to think we know best and to try to implement all of our strategies and ideas. It is essential that we remove the temptation to try and take over and, instead, empower the local team of people that have been there much, much longer than us to guide us and teach us about their culture, their language, their communities and their people. We are extremely stoked to be continuing our journey into Kitwe. Please pray for us!
During our road trip to Zambia, we will be staying overnight at two different locations. We drive 13 hours the first day and will stay overnight in Botswana. The second day, we will drive about 12 hours and will stay the night just over the Botswana/Zambia border in a small town called Livingston, home of the famous Victoria Falls! We are taking advantage of the fact that we are passing right through Victoria Falls and have decided to stay an extra night in Livingston with Kristi and Daytona. We’re so excited to have the opportunity to see Victoria Falls and will definitely be posting about this adventure later! In the mean time, wish us luck on our 3-day drive!