New Family in Zambia
July 26th 2016. First-time volunteer, Macie Jones, writes about her experience in Kabwe, Zambia with Intersport Youth Development.
Kabwe, what is there to say about my experience in Kabwe, Zambia? so many emotions that I feel in my heart but not enough words to describe them. When I made the choice to volunteer for Coaches Across Continents and come to Zambia; I had a lot of questions in my head, what will Zambia be like? What will the people be like? As far as CAC I definitely didn’t know what to expect; How is it possible to use soccer for social impact? And what exactly is Self-Directed Learning? Before coming to an unknown place you have images in your head you have gathered from other people, pictures in books, etc of what it will look like but you never know until you’re there. A friend of mine who has been to Africa told me about the people and her exact words were “to get ready to be loved by people like never before!” and that in fact is very accurate.
This is my experience in Kabwe, Zambia… Nora and I arrived early to the bus station, so no one was there to pick us up. We decided to find wifi and if we could find a place with food and wifi that would be a plus. We found the food but no wifi. After eating we went on a search to find wifi. We found a lovely guest lodge that let us use their wifi and we were able to get in touch with Eddie from Intersport Youth Development. He came to pick us up and brought us to the house we would be staying at. When we arrived, there was a family to meet us in their home with open arms. The first thing I saw were two little boys with huge smiles on their faces; I knew then I was in for a treat to be able to stay with this family. The warmness I felt being around them is something I wish to feel with everyone and it was astonishing that I could feel that with these people who I have never met before, who live in another continent and from a different culture. We may come from different places, have different traditions and different skin color but our willingness to connect with one another was the same. I felt as if they were family and I were family to them. That night I had Nshima for the first time, we talked, got to know each other, I asked a lot of questions and they were polite enough to answer them all with smiles and laughter. Due to national soccer trials we would not start CAC training till Tuesday so that meant we had the Monday off. Because we had Monday off, I was able to visit (my host mom) Leah’s school where she teaches, play futbol with some local kids in the area and I was fortunate enough to attend a Kitchen Party, which celebrates two people getting married. It was such a cool experience to see a different tradition celebrating two people getting married. When we were at the party, I asked Leah if others think it is strange that I am here and she told me “No they are honored that you are here, it means that you accept us, it means a lot to them and me that you are here.” It was humbling to hear those words.
The next day… CAC training has begun. I was eager to see how soccer and social issues would be combined and couldn’t wait to meet the coaches. The coaches came with full energy and ready to open up about the issues in their community and ways to make them better. We only had two days with the coaches of Kabwe but I feel that it was a very successful two days. They were filled with good energy, eagerness, openness, laughter, hand shakes and learning. My thoughts on CAC are that it is incredible. It is incredible to see games being used as a tool for social impact. It’s incredible to see the light turn on for the coaches when they realize that they can use these games to help the youth that they coach, not just in soccer but in life as well.. It is domino affect of positive social impact through soccer and that is incredible. The last day in Kabwe I was able to go visit the kids in Leah’s school, this is something I had visioned doing since I was a little girl, not sure why of this vision but it has been there for sometime and that day my vision became reality. I loved meeting the students at Lukanga school and they were so happy to meet me as well; another humbling experience in Kabwe. My first experience working with CAC in Kabwe has made me a better person. Nora let me read her blog and the title of one of her entries is “hello, goodbye.” I didn’t understand the title at first but now I do, you say hello to these amazing people and then you have to turn right around and say goodbye. I may have said goodbye in person but I will carry the people and my experience in Kabwe, Zambia in my heart, always.