Meeting our children
The sixth day we were about to cycle some dirt-road up to Chadiza. A very special day was ahead of us, but not because of the dirt-road. Some 40km up and down hills on sandy roads and stones squattered everywhere. No, it was a special day because we became parents!
That needs some explanation. In April we decided to join this big adventure: cycling 600km in Zambia to raise awareness for girls who are forced to marry at a young age and getting pregnant when their bodies are just starting to change. Cycling against child marriages in Zambia where about 60% of the girls are still married off to older men. We got sponsors who supported this cause and with the money we raised we hope to be able to inform, teach and in the end decrease child marriages. But that wasn’t all, with a small part of the money we actually got to sponsor two kids: Helen and Moses. With this money we are able to get them through primary school and make sure they can shower and go to the toilet in privacy and enjoy clean water. Today was the day we would meet our sponsorkids.
So after about 30km’s we arrived in a village in Chadiza. Our sponsorkids weren’t here yet but we were welcomed with loud music, many kids and some local dances. We even got to see the traditional ceremony of the Nyau. After a while we heard that our sponsorkid Helen had arrived. We were so excited to finally meet her and wow what a beautiful girl she is. Helen is 10 years old and goes to second class. She has just started school so wasn’t able to speak English with us. Actually, she was a bit shy so didn’t say much at all but her smile said it all. She didn’t need words to show her gratitude. Her mum is about 30 years old and works as a farmer. They live in a small house with another family. Only two rooms in which 8 people live. Helen is doing well at school, she likes the uniforms and already made many friends. After half an hour of talking, cuddling and taking some photos we said goodbye to Helen and her mum. Hopefully we will see her again, someday.
After Helen it was time to meet our second sponsorkid Moses. Moses lives in another village so we had to cycle about 7km to get to him. He was already waiting for us with his father. Moses is about 5 years old and in class 3. He is doing very well and his favourite subject is mathematic. He told us he want to become a truck driver when he gets older. His father laughed at that but we hope Moses gets the chance to become whatever he wants to become. Moses has 5 brothers and 1 sister, both of his parents are farmers like most people in this area of Zambia. We gave him a football and he was so happy his smile didn’t need any words. After half an hour we also said goodbye to him in the hope we’ll see him again as well.
It was a fun and emotional day. It’s great to see and speak with those children. For the coming three years we will sponsor them and the community they live in. Hopefully it will help them towards a brighter future. We were so excited, and still are, that we would love to visit them again some years from now. I can honestly say that it’s hard to describe in words what this day felt like, what it did to us and still does. It is hard to explain how it feels to be able to help a child towards a better future, a future that was given to us by being born somewhere else. It is hard to tell how happy it makes us to be able to help these kids, their parents and the whole community. For one second I thought it wasn’t good what we were doing, it wasn’t right to take care of someone elses child, to call ourselve ‘parents’. But then I met the parents, who were so happy their kids got the chance to become something they dream of, something the parents themselves never had the chance to become. Then I remembered that our money doesn’t go only to the child but to the community as well.
Plan Zambia informed us about the projects the money will be used for. Projects like waterpumps, sun energy, educational projects like information on HIV/AIDS and marriages but also to microfinancing in the village. With an act on stage they showed us how the microfinancing works in their village and what has been done with the money already. It was good to see what the money will be used for and to see the people are very serious about it. They want to increase their knowledge, they want to improve their standard of living and that of their kids. We even got to talk to the chief about the issue of child marriages. According to him ‘it’s time for some change’.