Jasmine School 2004
WOW first visited Jasmine School in Shamabanse in 2004. At the time, the school house was a roofless, abandoned church, that had gravel floors, deteriorating walls, and no chairs. Worse, there were no qualified teachers, only community volunteers and parents to teach the children. In 2008, after being granted land by the community, while working with local leadership, WOW began to build a new, safe school structure which consisted of a two-room block building, including a latrine facility. The original intent of the two-room facility was to designate one room for the school children and one room for the widows, but according to WOW’s chief operating officer Richard Brown, the increased attendance of the students “pushed the widows out”.
Widows quickly relocated to meeting at a local church, by 2012, when The People’s Church congregation visited Jasmine School, the former two-room school had grown to five, with eleven qualified teachers, 613 students, and a borehole to supply clean water.
At the commencement of their visit, The People’s Church mission team was greeted by a youngster who gave the following speech “Now there is hope in our lives where there was none. Some of our brothers and sisters are in grade 8 & 9. Very soon they will complete their senior grades and be able to enter different colleges and later be self-sustaining. Surely, such brothers and sisters will have great stories to tell”.
But would they?
This hopeful and inspirational speech was delivered in 2012, just four years after the new school building had been inaugurated. Already students had graduated and gone on to secondary education. In Zambia, students spend about seven years in primary schools, like Jasmine school, two years in lower secondary schools, and three years in upper secondary.
That means now, in 2017, it has been almost ten years since the school was rebuilt and accessible to the children of Shamabanse.
Searching For Success
We at the WOW team were just as enthusiastic as the young speech giver all those years ago to gather those “great stories” of those who had graduated from Jasmine school, and had gone on to higher learning. Therefore, we went on a mission this WOW Christmas season to find these stories. Contacting our partners in Zambia in October, we expressed our interest and soon received the following story back from a young man named Kennedy Musonda:
Kennedy Musonda is my name, I am 22 years old, and I completed my secondary school in 2015 from Kabwe high school. I come from a very poor background, I was born in a family of six (6) in which I am second to be born, three (3) girls and three (3) boys, both our parents died when I was in grade three (3) at Jasmine street primary school, a school supported by WOW.
Completing my high school education was a very big success for me because I am the first person in my family to reach grade twelve (12), my elder brother had to drop out of school due to the many challenges we faced after the death our parents. Support was a very big challenge but by the grace of God I was helped from Jasmine school up to grade 7 then my elder brother and another organization supported me to grade 10 and thereafter I started doing small piece works around the community after school hours to raise money and pay for my school fees.
I am at the moment working as a shop keeper with a view to raise funds so I can take myself to school, my plans for the future are to become a teacher so that I can help my siblings because life has not be easy for as. I must say that my progress in raising funds for college has been very slow because the little am paid where am working I buy food for my brothers and sisters.
In a nut shell that’s my brief story I will forever be grateful to God for using WOW to lay a very solid foundation I am so grateful for your support.
Though it was not quite the success story we were looking for; the story of the doctor, lawyer, nurse, pastor who successfully worked their way through school and gratefully returned to community in order to accelerate community transformation, it is a success story in its own right. According to EPDC, 39% of youth in Zambia aged 15-24 have not completed primary school. Kennedy has. Only 8% of Zambian children complete secondary school. Amazingly, Kennedy is one of that 8%! More importantly, he is the first member of his family to graduate high school, and that is a ground breaking accomplishment!
Sadly, according to EPDC, only 3% of Zambian students complete any post-secondary training, including teaching college, university, and vocational college. Though Kennedy is not yet part of that 3%, he is determined to be, and is working hard and saving money to reach those goals.
North American Ideals
But, is our North American ideal of success, which includes a post-secondary degree the true measure of success? Does the fact that Kennedy has never been to college, university, or teacher’s college mean that we have failed, or worse, that he has failed? Does that mean that the youngster’s speech to The People’s Church mission team has never been realized?
Though the first part of the boy’s speech did foresee the graduating brothers and sisters entering post-secondary institutions, we cannot neglect the second part of their prophecy: that they would be self-sustaining—and self-sustaining Kennedy is! From his own testimony, in high school he began to work supporting himself and paying his own school fees. Further, without the government student loans and grants that we so take for granted, after graduating high school, Kennedy is not only supporting himself, but his job as a clerk allows him to also support his brothers and sisters while he saves to go to teacher’s college!
Today Jasmine school has more than 1200 students (enrollment is up 200 students since 2016), and now includes a pre-school. The school is filled to capacity and is hoping that with the help of WOW supporters to add another three-classroom block. On February 24th, WOW is hosting Mission: Improbable– an improv night at Mills Hardware in Hamilton where every $25 ticket will send an orphan or vulnerable child like Kennedy to school for an entire year. Tickets are now available at Ticketfly.