Chishawasha Orphanage was the next stop on our adventure, where we would witness the opening ceremony of an orphan home. House 2 was lacking funding and had become unusable in recent years. Donors of Bana Tandizo had funded for the reopening on the house, allowing 16 more orphans to become residents. Although the house has been in use since its completion in March; the official opening was yet to be done.
The journey to the orphanage followed the great north road, one of Zambia’s most used roads stretching across the majority of the country. The orphanage being only a few minutes from the main road, made for a refreshing change to the standard lumps and bumps of the compounds. Pulling into the main gate past the school (Colin B. Glasco School – which is residence under the Chishawasha Orphanage), we pulled up in front of the administration offices for the orphanage. There we were greeted by the head mother as well as Mary the head administrator.
Mary hurried us towards the school, where we found the children doing the weekly school clean. The responsibility handed to the children, was something which I has begun to admire, as I became more used to seeing it. The Head teacher, who Mary had briefly introduced us to, was ensuring all the floors had been swept and the tables and chairs neatly tucked away, there was even some polishing of the, now gleaming, wooden dinner tables. As the tour came to an end, not a speck of dust was in sight and the children were all awaiting the once over from the Head teacher.
The orphanage itself consists of 7 orphan homes, each containing between 8 and 16 children. Invited into house 5 we were reminded of how far the orphanage had come, and how stable the infrastructure was. The house has a living area, with library; 3 bedrooms with two bunkbeds a piece and open wardrobe for the children’s belongings; both boys and girl’s toilet and shower; and a kitchen. Each house has two mothers, who are responsible for the welfare of the children and cooking. We met the mothers briefly as they were cooking up some Nshima for lunch. It was lovely to see everything in working order and a living space that was so homely.
Heading over to the location of the ceremony, the stage had been set. Martha had outdone herself, as ribbons and balloons were placed ready for the opening, alongside a number of chairs for visitors and snacks for after the main ceremony. The children had even gone out their way to set up a small musical set, containing two keyboards, a music player and microphone.
Proceedings were due to begin 14:00 Zambian time, meaning that we finally began around 14:45. Children, mothers and teachers all gathered and it began to feel like everything had come together, despite the house being opened for 4 months already. We began, appropriately, with the Zambian national anthem and a speech and prayer from Bishop Eddy who as chair of the board, made the welcoming speech. Many speeches were to follow accompanied by singing, dancing and other theatrical pieces from the children, like poems; before the ribbon was finally cut by Will and Martha. The dancing was fantastic, the atmosphere was very lively and the children loved to express themselves, embracing that sense of freedom when you let yourself go. I felt honoured that this production had partly been put on for me, but ultimately represented the splendid work of the donors back home, enabling the community to thrive.
Final discussions were had, supplemented by some juice and biscuits which we had brought with us for the children, before heading off. We said our goodbyes to Mary and the other staff members, and begun our journey home knowing that positive change was happening at the orphanage all within a healthy environment. For dinner, we helped ourselves to some knock-off Nandos and rejoiced in the day's work, ready for the chilled weekend.