Sunday, June 15, 2014

June 15th, 2014 Father's Day (in America)


Today in Zambia is not Father’s Day, but it was a lovely, fun Sunday. Team Mutomo started off our day by going to mass with the Sisters and the girls of Fatima School. I really enjoyed mass! The Fatima girls create fun during mass with joyous songs and lots of dancing! It was very different from mass in the United States, but it was so much fun to experience. Before we left the church, Sr. Christine asked us to sing. We were all very reluctant at first, because we think the Fatima girls sing WAY better than we do; but you just can’t say no to Sister. We ended up singing our school song and we weren’t half bad! After mass, we ate breakfast and just hung out until we trekked to the Barefoot School. We got to see the bookshelf Grace and Jacob built and put the books we brought into said bookshelf. I felt really happy knowing that our books will help further those kids’ knowledge. We also got to see some toys that the children had made, they were so cute! After our visit to the Barefoot School we went back to our rooms and started to pack up. We leave for Kafue tomorrow to go on a Safari which will be very interesting. Soon after, we decided to go back to St. Anthony’s Orphanage. Before we went there however we stopped at a school that will open in October to students. This school is a school for young adults after secondary school who cannot go to University. The instructors will teach skills like agriculture, carpentry, and tailoring so these kids won’t be disadvantaged for not being able to go college. That brief tour was fun, but I was very ancy to go back to St. Anthony’s. Going there is always heartbreaking but it makes my day to make those kids happy for a short few hours. We arrived and most of the kids were in these adorable red and white pajamas, at 4:00! I suppose they have to start getting the kids ready for bed early since there are 78 children to take care of. I got to hold adorable babies and finally use a Chitenge to carry a sweet little boy. He had to go eat eventually so then I got to play with the older kids (5 years old). They love taking selfies on my phone and getting piggybacks. It was such a bittersweet feeling when a little one would just come up and grab my hand. I felt really helpless to this child, but to them I was giving them attention that they really need. I was really sad to leave the kids for a final time, but I know St. Anthony’s is getting better every year so I just have to put my faith in the caretakers and God that those children turn out happy. The day isn’t over quite yet, now everyone is off to a farewell dinner with the sisters! Tomorrow will be a long day of driving, but I am so excited for Team Mutomo’s next adventure. (Happy Father’s Day, Daddy)

Sunday, June 15th 2014 (Father's Day)


Hello everyone and happy Father's Day to all the dads at home!

     I had the pleasure of sharing yet another day in Zambia with my dad (Tim); this trip has greatly impacted the both of us. This being my second year, I have a different perspective than I had last year. Mass is still immensely powerful and this year we stayed on the Fatima campus to celebrate mass with the Sisters and Fatima students. The Fatima girls' contagious energy filled the entire room as they celebrated mass with dancing, singing and drumming. We all agreed that we wouldn't mind it if mass in the US resembled the vivacious mass here in Zambia. As my dad said this morning, being among the Sisters and Fatima girls "feels like being in the presence of the living God".

     I know many of the previous bloggers have given detailed explanations of St. Anthony's Orphanage and what we do there; we had the honor of spending another day with the St. Anthony's residents this afternoon. I don't know how else to explain what it is like to be at St. Anthony's other than to say it is the most humanizing experience I have ever had in my life. Sharing time with another human being, truly being with them, with a singular motive to understand them, nurture them and connect with them, touches your soul. The children are free of judgement and being in their presence, feeling their small hands reach for yours, and small voices calling your name is like seeing love in its most raw form. It is always painful to leave St. Anthony's and as we drive away I am always torn between painful sensations of loss and grief and overwhelming joy having been able to know the St. Anthony's children if only for a mere matter of hours. I truly believe we all left with a child's face burning in our minds and an endless prayer in our hearts for their happiness and prosperity. This experience has made me extremely grateful for my parents and most importantly on this day, my father.

Again, happy Father's Day, and "good night" from all of Team Mutomo!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Good evening, Team Mutomo followers,

     Because of the busy day, our Vis girls are off preparing their act for tonight's Miss Africa Night at Fatima School for Girls, so I will be filling in for them on the blog. Miss Africa Night is a loud combination of modeling, music, dancing, and singing by the Fatima students.
     The girls needed to quickly shower and eat since we just got back from seeing the progress of the bookshelf-making at Barefoot School, playing with the kids at St. Anthony's Orphanage, and buying school technology and transportation materials for Barefoot School. We also took a little time to contribute to the local economy by purchasing "curios" as the sister call souvenirs.
     We have one more full day in this beautiful setting, then we are off to Kafue National Park to process and digest all we have seen, learned, and how we can make the next trip even more fruitful.
       We hope to blog one more day, Sunday, before going to the remote area of the park. Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Your girls miss you so much!
       Natotela (thank you) for making our trip possible! Ann Mattson

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday, June 13, 2014


     Today I went to the Kavu Clinic to help Dr. Sicoli. I was with Kaitlyn and Hannah. At first, I went out to the waiting room to help take the patients' temperature and weight. When all the patients were finished with us, we went to the part of the clinic (MHC) that gave babies vaccines, that did pregnancy check-ups, and that gave moms with HIV some medication to help prevent the transfer of HIV to their babies.
     After the three of us had our turn of observing, we switched off with Mary Clare and Hannah (who were in the dental clinic), so they could observe, too. Kaitlyn and Hannah went to the dental clinic, and I went to the medical clinic.
     We had to admit two children. A six day old baby had a temperature of 40 degrees Celsius or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. A 13 year old boy had a sickle cell anemia attack, so the boy couldn't walk, had a lot of back pain, and had the oxygen blood flowing rate of 88 (normal rate is from 95-100). After Dr. Sicoli told the nurses what the two children needed, the children were getting better as time progressed. Dr. Sicoli said that if they were treated sooner or didn't have the resources he brought, those two children could have died in the next few days.
     It was an inspiring day for me in the medical clinic because if it wasn't for the raffle tickets, the fun run/walk, or the donations, we wouldn't have been able to bring those resources to treat those two children. We did it! Runners/Walkers did it! Donators did it! Parents did it! Our chaperones did it! If it weren't for you guys, we wouldn't have been able to save those two children. THANK YOU!

Friday, June 13, 2014


     Today we went to St. Anthony's Village for Children. St. Anthony's is an orphanage that houses children of all ages, including children with developmental problems. I hadn't been to St. Anthony's yet, so I was really excited to go spend the day with the kids. As soon as we arrived, children started to come to us smiling and squealing. I got lots of hugs and many of them would put their arms up begging me to carry them. Other children were completely silent and immobile, sitting in wheelchairs spread out around the area. After a tour of all of the rooms in which the children are kept, I had a one month old baby in my arms named Moses. Many kids would come and take my free hand in theirs, and I walked with them to go introduce myself to all of the kids who were sitting around.
     I also spent some time in the room where the children with disabilities stay. It's a very overwhelming experience to be in there. Right as I walked in, I saw five children laying on mattresses on the ground. None of them could really move. There were quite a few flies landing on them and they were helpless to it. It really broke my heart, but I sat down in the middle of them and spent most of the time that I was in there talking to them and trying to keep the flies off. We took a lot of them outside in wheelchairs so that they could be with the other children and get some fresh air.
     My day at St. Anthony's gave rise to a huge mix of emotions. Every time I picked up a child, the first thing I thought was how much I wanted to take him or her home with me. At one point Emily and I were sitting in the shade holding two baby boys and we sang them a lullaby. I wish so badly that each and every one of those beautiful children could have a mother and father who could sing to them and hold them every day. It was wonderful being with them, but it also made me feel helpless because they all deserve to be cared for and nurtured, and I feel like I'm not doing enough. However it helped me realize how significant every act of kindness is and how every action that is taken to help them makes a difference. Those kids would be completely neglected if no one came to play with them. I am so thankful for this opportunity to come here to Zambia and see everything that we have seen and do all the things we have done. Even though it feels like so little, it has made me so much more thankful for what I have and so much more eager to make a difference in any way that I can.
     Tomorrow we're going to St. Anthony's again to do dental and medical screening on the children. I can't wait to go back and see them!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Thursday, June 12, 2014 continued...

Hello, Visitation community! Ann Mattson, Visitation Faculty Member/chaperone, here.

     I didn't want another day of this amazing adventure to go by without telling you how proud you would be of your girls. They are great ambassadors for the United States, for Visitation, as well as for you parents. They are working very hard, are making international friends, and are experiencing sights, smells, and sounds they will never forget. Their heads, hearts, journals, and cameras are already full of precious memories. 

     Besides the charitable works they have already described to you in previous blogs, here are some examples of what else they are doing:

- taking their anti-malarial pills daily with fewer reminders
- wearing sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses
- washing their own clothes (can you believe it?!?)
- doing the dishes BY HAND after every meal
- keeping their rooms relatively clean
- staying healthy by hydrating often
- learning new Bemba phrases and Zambian trivia every day thanks to Grace
- reaching out to shake hands, share their stories, and  bestow smiles on the Zambians 
- going to mass at 6:15 AM (seriously!)
- sharing openly at nightly debriefings about their feelings and impressions of the day's activities
- impressing the Dominican Sisters with their humor, respect, and gratitude for their hospitality
- leaving we chaperones in awe of how our future leaders; these strong women, are being shaped right in front of our eyes 

     Please continue to pray for us so that we may achieve all of our goals and those of the Sisters. Thank you for all of the support throughout the year that got us to this wonderful, magical place. Blessings, Ann


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Today in Zambia a group of 6 girls and 4 chaperones all went to a remote place where people gather monthly to receive medical help. I had the honor of working with Doctor Grutzner in the dentistry area. This experience was inexplicable in the way that hundreds of women and their children walk to this area in the middle of nowhere to receive dental and medical care. I was a bit shocked when we first arrived because the working area for the dental exam was a very small hut with no lighting and two chairs. At home, I am used to a large office with various utensils used for the examination, but we made do with a small room.  
I had never truly understood the differences in dental hygiene and physical health of another country until I had the opportunity to work today. I was shocked with the insane amounts of tooth decay that occurred with the majority of women and children that came to visit us today. My eyes were opened to how difficult it truly is living in a country where the people don’t have a doctor and dentist to go to every time they have pain.
After staying with Doctor Grutzner, I left and sat and observed Doctor Sicoli perform medical exams on children. I was astonished at the amount of respiratory problems these children had. Seeing the numerous medical issues that every child suffered with, I was able to realize how lucky I am to have immediate care every time I have the slightest pain. An obstacle we faced today was the language barriers between us and each patient. Every woman and child spoke Bemba only, making the exams more difficult to communicate the problem. Thankfully, both Doctor Sicoli and Doctor Grutzner had a translator to help them communicate.
Throughout this trip I have encountered true poverty, and this experience has almost made me embarrassed by the way I live at home. I have a greater appreciation for the mothers that live here in Zambia who were willing to walk for miles just to seek medical attention.
Everyone on Team Mutomo worked incredibly hard today and I am very excited for what will come in the future on this trip.



     Hello everyone! Today was outreach day for Team Mutomo. We split up into two groups and visited separate clinics that open once a month to serve the people of the surrounding area.  I was stationed at Chumameno, a clinic with one room near the edge of a village out in the bush. I was there with Julia, Mary Clare, Jacob, and chaperoning us were Ann and Tim. At the clinic I was in charge of helping mothers set their children in a harness scale that hung from a tree to measure their weights.  Jacob and I then measured the head circumferences of the babies which were all recorded by Mary Clare and Julia. It was interesting to see how they maintain medical records. At birth, a child is given a small booklet where all medical information is recorded. The mothers carry these with them every time they take the child to a clinic where more information can be recorded later on and growth can be tracked on a hand drawn graph.

     The mothers walked for miles and miles to reach the clinic. I talked to one girl who was only twelve who had carried her infant sister on her back all the way to the clinic because her mother was working. One of the men working with us began talking to a large group of women urging them to be sure not to marry off their daughters too young. He pointed out that Julia and Mary Clare were 15 and I was 18 and that we were focusing on our educations so that we would become successful on our own. Sometimes I forget that at my age, many girls around the world and in other cultures already have families. Some of the women scoffed at his lecture, but others seemed to listen to his advice.

     I cannot even give an estimate of how many kids we measured at the clinic today because as soon as one was taken out of the sling another was thrown in. It was extremely hectic at some points but as the numbers started to decrease, I got to talk to some of the young kids hanging around the village. They were shy at first, but as soon as I gave them some fruit snacks I had 6 new best friends.

Now I am off to go play sports with some Fatima girls! We loved gaining new experiences at the outreach clinics today and are excited to see what else is in store for us this week.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


     Today in Zambia, everyone had the opportunity of shadowing a girl that attends the Fatima School for Girls.  I had the opportunity of shadowing a girl named Bangi who was in 11th Grade.  We woke up this morning at 5:45 to meet our guides at mass before school started.  After mass ended, we helped our guides with their daily chores such as cleaning the church or sweeping the roads.  We then went to breakfast and shortly after, we went to our first class. 

     During this English class, we read a story out loud and all the girls wanted to hear me speak so I ended up reading the entire story to the class.  They asked me how to say certain words and this usually ended in a giggle fest because they said I spoke in a funny way.  Some said I had a strong Minnesota accent and that made me laugh.  Most girls came over to me during class and wanted to take a selfie with me.

     After our morning classes, we went to lunch.  Similar to how Vis girls are obsessed with food, the girls of Fatima are just as obsessed with food and I introduced my guide to the wonderful snack called Goldfish.  Having the guide show me around the Fatima campus was truly wonderful and I have definitely made new friends that I plan to keep in touch with after our stay in Africa. 

Looking forward to working in the outreach clinics in the bush tomorrow.  :) Lauren

Mary Clare

     Today, I also was a guest at Fatima School for Girls. Every morning, the girls wake up at 4:30 am for 6:15 mass and they study until 10:00 pm.Today, as Fatima girls, we were required to mirror their schedule. After mass, we had breakfast which consisted of white cornmeal porridge. My hostess, Caonga, recommended not to eat the porridge, so instead we shared a bag a chips.

     As Caonga and I were walking to class, she told me that the teachers move from class to class instead of the students moving-- it is different from schools in the U.S. By Tea Break, I was starving for some "real" food that would actually fill me up. Unfortunately, I did not get any until dinner. During Lunch break, I got to formally introduce myself to the girls. They were all very curious about what life is like back in Minnesota. A question that I received most frequently was, "What is snow like?" I said that is was cold, white ice that was mold-able.

     During French, my last hour, I became comfortable with most of the girls in the class--some even gave me notes with their Facebook name and their P.O. box so that I can write to them. By this point in the day I felt right at home! I felt very knowledgeable at the end of the day because I knew more about schools outside of the United States and their customs.

I can't wait for another day full of surprises tomorrow at the outreach clinic tomorrow! Mary Clare

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


     Today we went to St. Anthony's, Twapia, Buyantanshi, the Dominican Sisters high school and Natwange. We first went to St. Anthony's, an orphanage in Fatima where we stayed for an hour and a half. I was very skeptical there because I heard it was very hard on you. I didn't go last year so it was my first year going. When we got there there were kids everywhere. The toddlers were kept in their cribs almost all day. They stunk because the staff left them in their cribs all day.

     The hardest part for me at St. Anthony's was the disabled house. I was very emotional during this part which was surprising because I am not an emotional person. I hated seeing the children laid on the floor with flies covering them like cattle.It was very hard and overwhelming.You couldn't really hold them because they were deformed. Then you realize how lucky you are.

     There are many emotions going through my head throughout today. I was angry at the staff for not being better at taking care of the kids, I was grateful because I am so blessed, and I was hopeful for the opportunities and outcomes for these children. The babies were very clingy when we held them and cried when we left. It was hard to see all the malnutrioned kids, how they didn't receive the love and care we had when we were their ages. It was very hard and sad when we had to leave St. Anthony's.

      Next we went to Twapia. Twapia is a transient house for girls at the ages of 5 through 21. I went there last year and loved it. No doubt, I loved it again this year. When we arrived, the girls came sprinting towards us with loving hearts and open arms. I recognized a lot of them from last year. My buddy was named Doris and she was a sweetheart. We played on the jungle gym and danced in the yard. I gave her a friendship bracelet and she almost started crying. I will never forget her.

     The third place we went was Buyantanshi. This was the school where we painted an alphabet mural 2 years ago. The mural looked still looked fabulous. We mostly toured classrooms and talked to the kids in them. The biggest thing I noticed about the classes here from in the US is the strict obedience the kids have. Whenever we walked into the class room, they stood up and greeted us with a simultaneous welcome. It was very interesting to see the differences between their school and ours.

     The 4th place was the Dominican Sisters high school. This was the high school where Sister Grace attended when she was about 13. The school was a Catholic all girls school. There was a convent attached to the school. We bonded a lot with the girls because we had so much in common.

It was a very busy day here in Africa.

Tuesday June 10th

I'm the son of Mary Hearst Associate Professor at St. Catherine's University, Catherine Spaeth is also a member of St. Catherine's university

Today I worked with Mr. Grutzner in the dental clinic at Kavu Medical Clinic. When I first said that I would go, I thought it would just be like going to a regular dentist's office like what we have in the U.S. I was partially right because almost all the equipment is the same, and it's mostly the same layout. What was different was the patients. People come from all over the place to have their teeth looked at. Our first patient was an older man who had a tooth that had been hurting for three years. In the U.S. if we get a toothache, we can schedule a dentist's appointment and usually get it looked at within the week. It's one thing among thousands of other things that we take for granted. We ended up having to pull two of the man's teeth. We had a total of five patients over the entire day. After that we sat back, relaxed and had some snacks. Of course that's when Dr. Sicoli showed up. Mr. Grutzner apparently always teases Dr. Sicoli about slacking off so he was happy to dish it out and Mr. Grutzner was happy to take it. We hadn't brought all of our supplies with us to Kavu on the first trip so around midday, we headed back and grabbed the rest of the supplies and dropped it off at the clinic. Once we finished that, George, one of the dentists that works at Kavu, asked if we wanted to see his house and we accepted. The house is on Fatima land, and is quite nice. We met his 8 month old son, and some other family. He then invited us to go and pick up his wife from the oil refinery where she is an intern. We couldn't fit everybody in his car so Mr. Grutzman, Claire, Natalia, and Kayla went while Dr. Sicoli, Mrs. Spaeth, and I went back to the school. And now I'm writing this blog before we go pick up our uniforms for when we shadow tomorrow.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday June 9, 2014

     Today was the first day we really got to settle in here at Fatima School for Girls. The hospitality is amazing, both the sisters and the students have welcomed us so warmly. Everyone greets us and tells us that we are welcome here. We receive nothing but smiles and hugs, their efforts to welcome us are so natural and so full of kindness.This morning Sister Mary took us on a tour of the grounds. We got to see everything: the classrooms, the dorms, the assembly hall, the chapel, the Barefoot School, and much more. It is so beautiful here. I am amazed at how hard-working these girls are! They wake up at 4:30 AM to do their chores, then they go to mass and soon after attend class and study for the rest of the day. After the tour, we went out to the soccer field behind our rooms and played with the preschoolers. They were all so adorable and so eager to see us! I've never had so many children trying to touch my hair and hold my had and climb on my back all at once.
     After lunch we walked out of Fatima and into the village. I hadn't experienced anything like it. As we started passing the clusters of houses, children began following us. Most of these kids weren't wearing shoes, and the path was all dirt and stones. They were shouting and laughing and fighting to hold our hands. We walked for at least three miles, and the parade of children following us never thinned out. There were probably fifty children surrounding us. It's really hard to explain how I felt during this walk, I think I was mostly in awe of the whole experience. These children are all so beautiful, their eyes are full of curiosity and they react with pure joy at seeing us smile at them. I learned so many names and got more comfortable greeting them in Bemba, which is the language spoken in Ndola besides English. It was so eye-opening seeing where these children live, I can't even begin to describe the multitude of emotions that passed through me today. We were all hot and sweaty and covered in dirt. I loved every second of it.
     At one point we walked into the medical center and the kids ran around to the other entrance to wait for us to come out. When they saw us come out they started running toward us, and the two girls that were holding my hands came straight for me. It was so amazing being with all those kids and sharing that time with them. I had so much fun connecting with them and being surrounded by such excitement and getting so many hugs.Tomorrow we're going to the orphanage for most of the day to be with the kids there. This place is amazing and everything we are experiencing is going to be so influential on who we are. I can't wait for everything we're going to do over these next nine days at Fatima!

     Today, while at a nearby compound, there were children all around us. The farther we got into the compound the more children began to join the "parade." Suddenly I looked back and realized there was nearly fifty children behind us. They were all laughing, and playing, while still remaining with the group. The children ranged from all ages, anywhere from two years old to fifteen. Since their native language is Bemba, the little ones had a harder time keeping a conversation with us. Those who were older could speak English very well, because that is the language their classes are taught in. However, through those few little words I felt a connection with these children. I tried to understand what their lives are like, but I cant because mine is so different, and imagining what it would be like to have no shoes, or sometimes food to eat is unthinkable. 
     They never got bored of holding our hands, or walking in silence. Normally children need to be entertained to remain happy, or silent. However, these children did not seem to mind walking miles, or not speaking.  Even when we went inside to a clinic, they waited for us to come back outside so they could find us and hold our hands the rest of the way. When I came out of the clinic, both of the girls who were holding my hand ran right to me, and grabbed on. They even helped their friends find a buddy to hold hands with. They are all so sweet, and were so excited to see us coming through their village. When we took out our iphones to take "selfies" with them they were so fascinated by the fact that they could see themselves on this device and take a picture. One of my girls just kept staring at the screen, and took about 30 pictures of herself once she figured out how to work the camera. They also loved to play with our hair, some girls would run up and feel my hair then run away. The blonde girls on this trip especially got their hair touched, and drew a large crowd. Tomorrow we are going to St. Anthony's orphanage where tons of children will be looking for hands to hold, hair to touch, and piggy-back rides. I can't wait to see what else we have in store for us for the remainder of the trip!

Friday, June 6, 2014

We're off!

     We are awaiting our departing flight to Amsterdam after a wonderful send-off from family and friends. Our 33 hour travel odyssey has begun! Please pray for a successful and safe journey.

     We hope to blog daily in Zambia starting Monday, or at least as often as the sporadic electricity and Internet will allow us to. ;) We will be very busy working in the Sisters' medical and dental clinics, their orphanages, and their schools.

     To quote Sister Christine of Ndola, "The first time you came, you were acquaintances. Now you return as friends."