Many years ago, our longtime partner, Angela Miyanda, founder and director of the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre in Lusaka, Zambia, had a dream to open an early childhood center for the youngest of the orphaned, abandoned and destitute children in her care.
That dream became realized with the opening of the Eugene Lad Krizek (ELK) Early Education Center in July 2020, named for the founder and longtime president of Bread and Water for Africa®, and dedicated to providing the children with the best start in their educational journey as possible.
Within six months of the opening, Angela reported that 19 Kabwata children under age 10 were attending classes at the ELK preschool and are being taught by two young women who grew up at Kabwata themselves who completed their own educations and were trained and became certified preschool teachers.
“The children here are receiving the education they all deserve,” said Angela.
Around that time, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the primary school where the older children were attending, which had been providing them with an education at no cost, could no longer continue to do so.
“The Kabwata program had never anticipated creating and owning a school, however when all the other schools could no longer accommodate our children in their classrooms, we set up a school specifically for our children,” Angela reported in January 2021.
She explained that the school was “meant for our children alone, without mixing with those from the community…thus to help avoid infections.”
By August 2021, Angela reported on the school’s success of the telling us, “The ELK school has been our biggest achievement” and adding that, with the demand for increased enrollment for children living in the surrounding community growing, “we believe that one day the school will grow big enough to generate its own funding.”
That success continued through the following year, with Angela reporting last August that “the school has made tremendous progress towards the education of our children. Today, the teachers have gained more and more experience and are able to help all types of children in their care,” which includes those who arrive at the orphanage with no education whatsoever, as well as those with emotional and intellectual disabilities.
And this April, Angela reported, “The ELK school continues to grow from strength to strength. We are encouraged by the progress of the children from the reports we receive from their teachers.”
Among those teachers is Agnes “Aggie” Daka who grew up at Kabwata where she lived for 18 years – “practically all my entire life! I have no other family but my ‘family’ here at Kawbata.”
Today, Agnes is known as “Teacher Aggie” by all her students during the school day, and “Big Sister Aggie” when they are all together at Kabwata after school and on the weekends where she is inspiring them all to dream big, and encouraging them to understand that if they work hard and school and remain determined, their dreams can come true.
After all, she is a living example as a mentor they respect, admire and look up to as their “big sister.”
Thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® – those to whom she will be eternally grateful – she was able to attend school just as her students are today, graduate secondary school, and even attend college, the Kenneth Kaunda Metropolitan University where she earned her certificate in early childhood education, complete and internship, fully prepared to be a teacher on the ELK school’s opening day three years ago.
In her transformation from student to teacher, Aggie now is responsible for educating about two dozen of the youngest Kabawata kids at the ELK school. Following the government mandated curriculum, throughout the course of a day her primary school students are learning to read and write in English (the official language of Zambia, former British colony), math, integrated science focusing on caring for the environment, social studies which includes government and Zambian history, religion and Bible study, and what is called “expressive arts” which gives the children the opportunity to use their imaginations and be creative.
A typical school day begins at 8:30 a.m. with devotions and prayer, classes until 10:30 when they have a “recess” where they get to expend all their pent-up energy playing traditional games in the school’s courtyard, then back to class until lunchtime at 12:30, when they are fed a traditional meal that likely includes nshima (a staple food made of cornmeal), beans, chicken, beef, rice, vegetables, and a favorite of children around the world, macaroni. Following lunch, the students are back in classes until the end of the school day at 3:30 p.m. when they are loaded on a van for a short ride back to Kabwata.
As her students come from a wide range of experiences and abilities, “many of them have never been to school, or can speak English,” she strives to provide as much individualized attention to those who need it the most – starting with the ABCs.
While that may be challenging from them at the start, her students are motivated in the realization of how fortunate they are to be at Kabwata and attending the ELK school.
“They want to learn,” says Aggie. “The want to know and understand.”
In fact, nothing brings her more joy and personal satisfaction than seeing the excitement on the face of a child – eager to be called on in class with their hand raised high – when they get the answer correct and demonstrating what they’ve learned.
To the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® who transformed her life provided her the opportunity to be where she is today, and for making it possible for her students to follow her path and realize their own dreams Aggie says:
“First and foremost, a very big THANK YOU for the support and love you have shown, and continue to show. May God richly bless you!”
And as for Angela, she wants them to know: “Many children have had their dreams come true.
“Thank you to you all and everyone who has made it possible in making the children have a better life – you have given hope to those in hopeless situations.”