Submitted by Stacey Ogle, Malaria Partners International Board Member
Our bus rounds another corner and comes to a halt at the entrance of the Chifubu Community Primary School. A small crowd of community kids run to greet us, with hopeful smiles and curious eyes. As I walk the dusty dirt road, toward the school, I’m suddenly overwhelmed by the crowd awaiting us, perhaps hundreds of people! There are darling, young school children in their uniforms seated obediently at picnic tables; Rotaract students who have just repainted the school using the paint Malaria Partners International USA had provided; a large group of colorfully dressed women-of-the-church awaiting their opportunity to sing and dance our greeting; contractors who used our funding to replace the school’s window panes; and countless community members of all ages beaming and greeting us with hugs. I’ve never seen so many smiling faces. We’re not celebrities! What would bring all of these colorful, beautiful people out on a very hot Saturday? Appreciation and anticipation.
Their humble, three-room school had needed repairs – we had provided a solution. Some of the over 20 individuals on our team carried books, educational tools, soccer balls, and toys to leave behind – it was like Christmas in October! School kids had practiced presentations for us about their educational hopes and dreams – they wanted to thank and inspire us. Reverend Edward Kapembwa made a speech thanking us on behalf of the teachers and students. Malaria Partners International President Jeff Pritchard and Rotarian Malaria Partners Zambia Co-Chair Dr. Mwangala Muyendekwa spoke with deep respect and admiration of our recently departed friend and leader, Steve Crane, acknowledging the plaque mounted at the school’s entrance, forever commemorating his work to eliminate polio and malaria.
I was filled with emotion as we departed. Poverty inflicts such need every day, worldwide. It takes so little to touch another’s life and communicate love; to say, “You’re not alone.”