Sunday, June 16, 2013

Last Day in Ndola -- Thoughts from Several Girls

This is Julia Goldman on June 16... Fathers' Day!! Today was a very fun and relaxing day. We had the chance to wake up at any time this morning. My room woke up at 9:00 AM. We had eggs and bacon, which is very big for us! We got ready for mass afterward and everyone dressed up in long dresses or skirts. At 11:00 AM we boarded the bus for a 45 minute bus ride. It was very bumpy towards the back! (personal experience) When we began getting close to the church everyone on the streets started clapping and waving! It was amazing to see how happy they were to see us. When we arrived at the church there were hugs and hand shakes. It was very cool to see how they were so interested in us. All of them came up and greeted us with a friendly smile and handshake. Mass was started with beautiful singing and dancing from the younger side. Service was led in Bemba so it was a very difficult mass to process. Communion was served in a different way here. They had one massive line and the priest dipped the host into the wine and placed it into our mouths. At the end of a long mass (2 1/2 hours) we all got called up to the front and everyone in the community shook our hands. They were all so friendly and nice. It was a great opportunity to experience a mass in Bemba. We got back to the Fatima school around 4:00 PM. The sisters were very nice to make us a "bready type" doughnut. Those were delicious. We had to clean up and pack all of our things for tomorrow. We are leaving tomorrow for the safari lodge. Tonight we are having our "goodbye" dinner with the sisters of Fatima. See you on Friday!

This is Grace Hansen on June 16. Yesterday each member of Team Mutomo got the opportunity to shadow a student at the Fatima School. We all got to wear their uniforms and hear about their interesting lives.  It was truly amazing to hear how different our lives are compared to the girls'. In my experience, I shadowed a girl named Choolwe, and being with her the whole day helped me to feel more connected to her culture. I learned about popular music, movies, and hobbies that she enjoys while she stays here. I got especially close with her and was so privileged to spend a day with Choolwe. I can't wait for the last few activities here in Zambia!

This is Anne Lamberton on June 16. This past Thursday Team Mutomo packed into two separate busses and drove out to outreach clinics in remote areas - the middle of nowhere. At the outreach clinics we helped weighing babies, taking their heights, and giving them the vitamin supplements they needed. Hundreds of mothers, fathers, and children came to these clinics hoping to receive the attention their kids needed. This experience was incredibly satisfying knowing we were able to give them the attention they deserved. It may have been an incredibly overwhelming day, but in the end it was an amazing experience. Tomorrow we leave Ndola and head to the safari lodge. It has been a memorable week here at the Fatima Girls' School!

This is Grace Blevins on June 16! We've had the privilege of experiencing countless amazing activities here in Zambia. So far, one of everyone's favorites was visiting Saint Anthony's Orphanage in Ndola. Many of us had lots of questions after that life-changing visit (which Elsa will elaborate on) and we are lucky enough to be travelling with Dr. Dana Johnson. He is a Professor at the U of M, pediatrician, and head of Adoptive Services in Minnesota. Needless to say, he is very knowledgeable on all things regarding orphans around the world. Some members of the team were thrilled to attend a lecture that Dr. Johnson gives on the effects of institutionalizing orphaned children-which answered many of our questions after leaving St. Anthony's. His research-based lecture added to our own personal experiences thus far and only widened our view of the world. Thank you, Dr. Johnson!

This is Elsa Ayotte on June 16! This past week we visited St. Anthony's Orphanage, and I believe I speak for the whole team when I say it was an incredible experience. Each time we return, it is even more amazing than the time before. When we go there, we really interact with the kids and get a feel for how they live. It was really rewarding to return there again after last year's experience, and have some kids remember us. It's a perfect example of how big of an impact we are having on these kids. It was also a different experience when we went yesterday because they were celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the orphanage. The first day we went, all the kids wanted to do was play with us, but the day of their anniversary they had a bouncy house with a rock climbing wall and music playing. The kids loved it! Overall, it has been a very rewarding experience. As Grace Blevins mentioned, Dr. Dana Johnson had a very powerful presentation that helped us piece together our experience and our sadness for their conditions. We learned our impact on their early life will be very beneficial in their life. Can't wait to see you all on Friday!

Hi everyone this is Maddy Kranz on June 16th as well! We are all very overwhelmed with emotions from our trip. We have all learned so much about ourselves and the world outside of the United States. Last night the Fatima girls invited us to the annual Miss Africa Night where we were able to connect with the students we shadowed and dance the night away! We performed a well-practiced dance routine for the whole school and they absolutely loved it. I'm limited on time to write more about our experience because we are headed to a reflection with all the Sisters, but to summarize what we are taking from the trip, I think all of us girls have truly learned to appreciate the lives we are blessed with upon seeing how many other people are living. Whether it's the poverty and sickness seen at the outreach clinics, or the sense of isolation in the children at the orphanages, we have exercised our skills of nurturing and appreciating those around us. Our hearts are filled to the brim with sympathy for the sad sights we have seen, but also with a universal love and eagerness to keep serving and working to better the lives of others, all while maintaining gratitude for our own lives. Thank you to everyone for blessing us with such an inspirational trip!!!

To conclude: Thanks to all of the girls and Nick for the inspiring, heartfelt words. I hope this blog has given you a glimpse into what they are experiencing in Africa. These are just a few opportunities they've experienced here. I'm sure there will be many more stories to come.

Thank you for sending your children to Zambia! You have made a difference in their lives, much like they have made on the lives they have touched here. Ann Mattson

Happy Father's Day from Zambia!

Greetings to everyone from Ndola, Zambia! We hope you are all having a wonderful day and have received a Father's Day text message from your daughter via Philip Goldman's phone by now.

After a very fulfilling and action-packed stay, we are reluctantly leaving the Fatima School for Girls and the wonderful Dominican Sisters. We are headed for Mukambi Lodge in Kafue National Park tomorrow where we will decompress while discussing strategies to make next year's service trip even more helpful to the mission of the Sisters and rewarding for the Vis girls, many of whom are already talking about coming back again next June!

We will not have access to a computer there during the end of our trip, so we wanted to tell you that this may be our last blog post. Access to the Internet and connectivity issues continue to be a challenge for the Sisters, and we did not want to overwhelm them with our needs.

Blessings and good bye for now! 

--Ann Mattson for Team Mutomo

Saturday, June 15, 2013

June 15: Notes About Shadowing at the School and Visiting the Orphanage (from Katie, Caity and Rachel)

Hi everybody!
   This is Katie Conners, yesterday was the day that everybody got to shadow the girls at Fatima school.  It was so cool to see what the girls' life was like during the day.  We woke up a 5:45 AM bell to go to 6:15 AM mass with the girls in the chapel, and we all were able to wear the uniforms that they wear every day, and let me say, I kinda rocked it! 
   After mass, I helped my shadow person with her chores before going to our first class of the day, biology.  It was fun to see that they were learning the same sort of information that I had just finished learning in my AP Biology class. The whole day seemed to go by very fast because all of the classes were so interesting and fun.
   The students don't move from class to class like we do, but the teachers move instead.  During our math class, the teacher had me come up to the board and do a math problem and explain how I got it (thankfully I got the correct answer:), so that was quite the experience!  Throughout the whole day my buddy, Musonda, this other girl who called me "Bestie" the whole day, and I got to know each other really well so that it feels like we've known each other our whole lives, and I am so excited to spend more time with them before we have to leave! 
   Through talking with my buddy and the other students at Fatima it was really inspiring to see how motivated all the girls were in their school work.  After school was over, my buddy and I went to play soccer, and let me tell you, it started off a little bit rough, but eventually I got the hang of it and scored two goals for my team.  Overall I had an amazing day and I have made friends that I hope will last for a long time!

   Hello! This is Caity Dorle. Yesterday all of us visited Fatima School and shadowed a student for the day. The girl I shadowed was named Ndanji, and I also spent a lot of the day with her best friend, Joan. We started out the day by attending mass, eating breakfast, then beginning classes.
   One thing I noticed during the class day was how much respect the girls had for their teachers. Right away when the teacher walked into the room the students all stood up and greeted the teacher. Also, at one point the girls were talking and goofing off, but right when the teacher told them to quiet down, they stopped talking and focused on what they were learning. It was amazing that the girls just naturally respected their teachers even though no one was telling them they had to.
   After our first four classes we had a break for lunch. During lunch my guide told me that she was in the drama club and that they were practicing their play that they were going to perform for the Catholic Exhibition. The exhibition is a competition that all different schools participitate in. The girls had to create a play that would be judged. I was amazed how proud the girls were to represent the school and how focused they were on the play. The director of the play let the girls create the whole play and all the lines that they wanted to say, and he only gave his input when he thought something could be improved. The girls were doing a play about the difference between children who learned in privileged classrooms vs. children who learned in under-priviliged classrooms. I thought it was great that the girls got to express their opinions in the form of a play. I enjoyed watching the girls practice, and they even had me type up the script for them and deemed me the good luck charm of their play.
     Overall I had an amazing day, and I really enjoyed comparing the similarities and differences between Fatima and Visitation.

Hello, everyone! This is Rachel Gould.
    Today we split up into three groups; one going to the dental clinic with Dr. Grutzner, one going to the medical clinic with Dr. Sicoli and Mrs. Scheid, and one going to St. Anthony's orphanage. I had the wonderful opportunity of going to St. Anthony's for the second time this trip! On the way there, we stopped with Sister Margaret at a market to get souvenirs, and we found some wonderful gifts to bring back for family and friends! As we were driving, it was fun to see all of the people in Ndola dressed head-to-toe in Zambian soccer apparal, ready for the World Cup qualifying game against Sudan that is going on right now. Their passion and excitement for their country is contagious!
    When we got to St. Anthony's they were in the middle of their 10th Anniversary celebration, complete with music, treats, and a bouncy house for the children. The children danced for everyone and it looked like they were having a really great time, which was so good to see. St. Anthony's can be one of the hardest parts of the trip, but it is always a favorite. In comparison to last year, I am happy to see changes in the orphanage, such as a new playground for the children and wheelchairs for all of the orphans with disabilities, so they can come outside and move around more often. It was sad to say goodbye to kids because it was our last time there this trip, and I will miss all of them so much!
    Tonight we are going to Miss Africa Night with the Fatima girls where they have a fashion show and multiple dance numbers. This year we have our own dance prepared, so hopefully we take home the prize for "best dance group" for the second year in a row!
    Overall, I am having an amazing experience here in Zambia once again. I am learning so much from everyone around me, and I could not be more thankful that I got to come back! I hope all is well back home.

Friday, June 14, 2013

June 12 Update

Good morning, again!  Communication from Zambia has been a bit sporadic.  Here is an update from the group dated June 12.

This is Mary Sicoli. Yesterday, I was part of a group that went to St. Anthony's Orphanage. It was a bittersweet day; on one hand I was happy to see the many improvements in the orphanage. Physically, the orphanage upgraded in supplies and equipment. The staff also seemed to be more interactive with the children. In all, the quality of life for the children seemed to have improved compared to last year, but at the same time, there is still a lot left to be done. From talking with the sisters and staff, I learned that the number of children inhabiting the orphanage has increased. The children are still numerous and starved for attention. Sadly, the overall health of the children seems to have decreased. For example, I was holding the cutest baby that was only six weeks and was notified by Dr. Johnson that the baby would suffer from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome for the rest of his life. With this information, I could not help but feel upset and angry for the preventable handicap this boy would have to live with for the rest of his life. All in all, my visit to St. Anthony's Orphanage was eye-opening and life changing. It is an experience that is never to be forgotten.

Hello, this is Nick Goldman.  Yesterday Maddy, Rachel, Maura, Julia, Kayla, Mrs. Mattson and I went to the Barefoot school to paint a mural of the alphabet and numbers inside one of their classrooms.  I measured out the dimensions of the mural while the others drew sketches of what it was going to look like.  Then Kayla and Maura drew the pencil outline of the mural on the wall, and we finished by painting over it all.  As we were painting, we were joined by many students of the school who helped us paint, taught us phrases in Bemba, and took many pictures with our cameras.  The student who was most helpful was a boy named Peter.  He constantly would enter the room and paint with us and would gather supplies that we needed.  Altogether it was a rewarding experience, and we left our mark, literally, on the wall.

Hey, this is Abbey. Today Katie, Caity, and I went to Natwange School. While we were there, I had the opportunity to help Dr. Johnson take down measurements to figure out the general nutrition levels of the students. The results ended up being a little shocking. The vast majority of the students were about two standard deviations below what's considered normal (in other words, really bad). It was very depressing for me to see because, having interacted with a lot of the students, I knew that they were very kind and intelligent, and it was hard to swallow that they would never reach their full potential on the physical level. After spending the morning taking down the measurements, the three of us played volleyball with a group of kids from the school. While none of us will be going professional anytime soon, we had a lot of fun and it was really great to spend time with the students. On our way back from Natwange, we decided to stop by a couple of the orphanages we went to last year. There was one boy who I remembered from last year, and he became really excited when I told him that I remembered him. That really made me realize just how much we can impact the lives of some of these children, even if it may not feel like it at the time. Today ended up being an extremely eye-opening and rewarding experience, and I'm so grateful for the time I have spent here and my remaining time here.

From Ann Mattson:
Good night to all! We will continue to work with our connectivity issues as we attempt to blog! All is well and we are blessed to be here!

Morning of June 14 from Zambia

A quick overview of today's work from Ann Mattson:
Today the 15 Vis girls and lone STA boy are shadowing Fatima school students. They are resplendent in the Fatima Jubilee uniform: a black and white cotton skirt, a white polo shirt, and a dark monogrammed sweater. (It is winter here!) Nick is wearing the polo with his own pants.

Their day started with mass at 6:15 AM, followed by a full day of classes, three meals with the Fatima students, and they will fall into bed tonight after the study hall ends at 8:30 PM. I suspect they will appreciate our American class schedule much more after today! If we don't communicate tonight, at least you will know why! I can to wait to hear their stories!

Meanwhile, the chaperones were continuing their work in the Kavu medical and dental clinics, preparing presentations while I was teaching at the nearby Yengwe Basic School, and we will visit a hospital later today. Greetings to all, Ann Mattson for Team Mutomo

June 13: Team Mutomo's first report from Zambia

Good morning!  Team Mutomo has arrived in Zambia and sent the following email to Visitation last night.

Hi this is Jordan. Today we went to the outreach clinic in two separate groups. The clinic I went to was the farthest one where there was the most need for medications and health care. I was given the opportunity to work with the nurses involved with tracking the growth of the children and providing prenatal vitamins. I also was taught how to guesstimate the age of the fetus, and turn the baby to prevent a breach pregnancy. One of the nurses gave me one of her chitenges to wear around on the bench in the clinic. Her name was Chaz and after I had helped her in the clinic, she shook my hand and said she would pray for me and that I was always welcomed to her village, Nafinga. What I learned today was to work with the environments that were provided: we were giving shots in the dark and giving women pills with minimum water supply. The women I met today have truly changed my life, and I will hold all of them in my heart hoping that the 5 short hours I spent with them was enough to create a better environment for the mother and child in the world they live in. Much love to everyone in the states and all the best, and may the Lord bless and keep you.

Hello, this is Kayla Oscarson. Today I went to the farthest clinic with seven others; the place is called Nafinga. Today I worked in many fields: I weighed babies and recorded their age, gender, and weight for statistics; I helped with recording the weight of mothers; and I helped test the people of Nafinga for HIV. From what we observed, only two people had HIV, a mother and her child. My mother cried because it was really sad. The mother did not even cry or blink with that news because it is pretty normal to them to hear people's diagnoses. However, we did have a fun time because we knew we were helping these people with what we can. It was funny because a lot of kids got scared due to the fact that we are differently colored people who they have never seen. I wish that we could have done more, but in God's eyes, small things can make a huge difference (for example, the loaves and fishes story in the bible). When we were finished, we had to bring a mother and her child to the clinic because her child had malaria and the child was having bad symptoms that had to be treated. It is quite sad seeing all these people walking miles to get medical help (it is only few times people come to give medical help, too) and they don't even have any drinking water. It is so depressing and sad the lifestyle they are living, yet they smile and laugh like they are not even living such a bad lifestyle. At home we complain so much, but we don't even realize how much better we have than people here in Zambia. I love you guys in America and God bless you. Reminder: small things can make a huge difference. This is the biggest lesson you will learn when you come to Africa. Thanks and see you in a week!

Hi, this is Caroline Mulligan, and I am really enjoying my trip to Zambia so far. I have had a great time at the dental clinic, greeting the friendly faces around Fatima School, and bonding with the other girls on the trip. Today, we split into two group for the Outreach trip. We set up in an empty building, and before we began taking patients, a man gave us a tour of the surrounding village. It was exciting to see the neighborhood and hear about their lifestyle, which is mostly farming. I spent most of my time at the Outreach, measuring children's head circumference, height, and weight as research for Dr. Johnson's project. I also had a chance to listen in on his examinations of the children, which opened my eyes to the different ways one can be a doctor besides just being in an office. After the Outreach, a group of us unexpectedly found a soccer game being played at the school. It was especially interesting for me as a soccer player to see their style of play. I'm so grateful for this opportunity, and I can't wait for more moving experiences to come.

Hello, this is Maura Gaylord.  From the stories that I have heard from girls who have participated in Team Mutomo in previous years, I had very high expectations, which have all been met and exceeded.  All of the days here have been very unique, and I have enjoyed every one of them greatly.  On one of the first days, we were taken on a tour of the Fatima school and surrounding compounds.  I was blown away by how friendly and welcoming all of the Zambian people are, and this reaction has stayed with me throughout all of our time here.  On Wednesday I got the privilege of working at St. Anthony's Orphanage where we spent the day playing with the kids.  I was really influenced by this experience due to the conditions of the orphanage and how the children were so grateful for just the simplicity of laughter.  Today, Thursday, the whole team went to Outreach sites where I helped weigh kids and was able to learn a lot from Dr. Johnson as he was giving kids checkups.  All in all this trip has been an amazing experience, and I will forever be influenced by the people that I have met here and lessons that I have learned. 

Good night for now, from Ann Mattson. The Vis girls and STA boy are shadowing Fatima students tomorrow all day - decked out in the Fatima uniforms! We love your children! They are making us proud!