Mostly Sweet But Tinged With Sadness- Kaulyn Loe

Kaulyn Loe shares about her Zambia Experience this past summer:

“Zambia. Where do I start? What do I write to express the beauty, the joy, the heartache, the kindness, and the love that I experienced in this beautiful country for six weeks this summer?

            I’ll start with a sad story. It took me two weeks to meet a Zambian who didn’t smile. She was a young mother of a toddler with cerebral palsy (let’s call the daughter A), and she had brought A to Namwianga for 6 weeks so A could get physical therapy. She had to leave school when A was born and would like to return to school to become a nurse, but she couldn’t because she didn’t have anyone to care for A. She said that she has “many problems because of A.” Dr. Meeker and Mrs. Walker went to the physio clinic three days a week to work with A on feeding skills, and we each got an opportunity to join them for a session. I was lucky enough to be the first student to go and was able to go a second time at the end of our trip, so I got to see A’s progress over the course of our time there. A made considerable progress, but the greatest change was in her mother. As I said before, A’s mother didn’t smile at all when I first met her. She sat on the physio table and barely watched A during therapy. She would participate when prompted, but for the most part, she just sat there, drawn into herself. At the last session, she smiled and played with A, she watched as Dr. Meeker massaged A’s face and learned to do some of those stretches herself, she was invested, she had more hope. Despite all of the hardships she’d endured in her young life, she was able to find joy and encouragement through the work of the therapists at the physio clinics and the brief time we spent with her and her daughter.

            Now for a happier story: The Haven. The Haven is a facility that cares for children whose families cannot currently provide for their needs. Their biggest goal is to reunite these children with their families as soon as possible. Think of it more as foster care in the U.S., rather than an orphanage. The Haven consists of 3 houses each Haven house has a group of Aunties, and each Auntie is paired with a few children who she is primarily responsible for, like a foster mother. Each house also has house parents, who help care for the children and manage the general needs of the house to make sure everything runs smoothly. At the Haven, every child feels loved and valued. Probably the most frequent questions asked at the Haven are “Who made you?” and “Tell me the Truth,” depending on a child’s age. There’s nothing purer than hearing a toddler scream “God did!!!” when asked who made them, or a child reciting the Truth: “God is good. Nothing is impossible. Jesus already won. Everyone is important. I am God’s treasure. I am the one Jesus loves.” You may think that the idea of a facility like the Haven sounds sad or disheartening, but the Haven is a place of joy.

            The best way I can think to summarize my time in Zambia is that it’s like Litmus Lozenges in the book Because of Winn-Dixie—mostly sweet but tinged with sadness. In Zambia, the people find joy and share what they have, no matter the circumstances. While I was glad for the material comforts so graciously provided by the Zambians at Namwianga, I also felt incredibly ashamed by my privilege. I had so much and was being given more, while I was surrounded by people who had so little and gave so freely. In Zambia, I felt useless and helpless most of the time, but leaving Zambia, I want to change the world. I hope to use the very privilege I was/am ashamed of to give back to the Zambians who need so much and ask for so little.”

Thank you for sharing, Kaulyn!

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