The star of the show

Signing to Ketty from a lake near the ashram

Hi to everyone again, from my hilltop haven in Wales.

So I told you wrong in the last post. In fact Ketty started her education proper in her second term. The first was cramming sign language, which I guess continues. But she’s started on mathematics and introduction to science and other stuff. They give school reports… the comments remind me of my school reports from about a century ago, like ‘keep up the good work’. Ketty doesn’t need exhortations, she’s loving her school life and works for pleasure.

End of the second term. Ketty sends her love to all of us who have made this possible for her.

Do you remember what I said in the intro to the project, a couple of years ago, Ketty needs to communicate, cos she’s bright, intelligent and has so much to say. About how we could help her get to the school she needed, to fulfil that need to learn and communicate.

Well we’ve done it my friends!! How awesome that it’s turned from a dream into reality. Ketty came top in the class (out of 10 students) in that first term of general education. Woohoo!! Ok even if she’d come bottom, she’d still be great in my eyes, but she came top. Ketty you’re a star.

Second term end report

So I have my ticket booked and in just under three months, I’ll take the long road out to Eastern province once more. Ketty’s getting ready to go back to school on Monday, for her final term of the year; Alice has told her that soon after she returns home after this term, I will arrive. She’s as impatient to see me, as I to see her.

Thanks again everyone. Thanks so much to the people who have donated. Look what we’ve done. We can be proud. We still need donations to build up the fund…. enough said. God bless.

Thanks from Alice, her parents Mr & Mrs Ngwenya, and Ketty.

Love, Tony

 

Settled in at school

Seems ages since I posted. The fact is that I’m now living in a Welsh hilltop ashram and everyday life seems so far away. But we’re a busy place, established and run by a renowned Yoga Master, Swami Nishchalananda Saraswati, so there are courses and many people passing through. Many of them now know of Ketty and the community of friends in Eastern Zambia as I have a small poster up on our notice board, so the net of helpers spreads wider. Thanks again to all who have become involved in this lovely project.

Alice putting in hair extensions for Ketty to look cool at school

So to Ketty. My previous post was after we’d been to see her for the very first time at school. Her mum, Alice, sends me messages nearly every day via whatsapp (I gave her my old smartphone and use some of my contribution money to pay for airtime as she gets so little money from the NGO where she works. Like… none! right now).

are you leaving?

Anyway Ketty loves school. We left her, at the end of that previous post, hardly looking at us as we drove off, sad at us leaving, as we were at leaving her. Then she returned home for her first holiday… signing so fast that Alice couldn’t keep up. Her teacher says she’s little miss popular (of course); when she saw some of the young kids in the dorm didn’t have soft toys to cuddle as they went to sleep, she organised a rota to make sure everyone had one for a few nights a week, including in the rota her own little ‘Storm’, the husky dog I’d bought for her to soften her transition to boarding school.

signing ‘I love you’ to me during the school hols

I tell you, she’s special!!

So then back to school for her second term, and so happy to go back. Not that she’s had a bad time at home, her grandparents were so happy to see her as well as Alice and her friends in the compound. She was looking for me, even though we’d explained I was away until summer (our winter)… she was looking in the room at Tikondane, that NGO where I used to stay, just to check if I was hiding.

So my friends, I have to keep the dynamic going, year after year I will ask anyone who wants to share this delightful adventure to help me pay for the coming years of schooling. Just if you get pleasure from following this story and just if you get pleasure from knowing that you change the life not just of Ketty, but of her whole family. Why?

Because Ketty is also their pride and joy; when she’s happy and fulfilled, it brings sunshine into the lives of her family (Zambian families are very close and ‘organic’).

Alice, and her mum and dad, ask me to send their gratitude to all of you who have contributed.

I’m soon booking my trip out in December to take fees for Ketty’s second year of schooling. The first year was to learn sign language. Next year she will be starting an education proper, in that sign language, with both deaf and hearing teachers.

 

Love to all, Tony

Ketty’s first month at Magwero school for the deaf.

Ketty at Magwero
Ketty at Magwero

We managed to keep away for a month! After we dropped Ketty off for her first taste of school (https://ulingana.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/a-very-special-school/)  we only had one communication from the head, that Ketty was doing fine.

Alice & Catherine bought loads of vegetables & stuff in Chipata, on the way, then we went to the school. Saturday, day off, kids playing everywhere, then we spot Ketty…they hadn’t told her and she runs over to us, surprised and happy to see us.

A beautiful day then kind staff lend us a stove & charcoal, and we cook her favourite; chips!!! plus a feast… sausages, cabbage salad, green beans in tomato sauce.

It’s still very much the rainy season here so we were lucky… a hot sunny play and eat… then the heavens opened and we rush for cover.

So so sad to go…. Ketty hardly looking at us, shuffling around. I took her aside for a mo and explained I was flying away, not to see her for a year…. finally she looked at me and we had a little goodbye. I was so sad driving away, then I thought, ‘this is actually beautiful… having someone I care about this much and being loved in return…. how fortunate to be so sad on parting’.

Alice told me on the way back… the teacher told her that Ketty had cried for her mother the first two nights of her stay. I’m glad I didn’t know that! But now we know she’s settled and is proudly showing us the sign language she’s learned already.

Once again, to those generous souls, friends of mine, who have donated money, please be proud of how much you have changed the life of a beautiful young person. Not only her, but her whole family… Alice’s father and mother both said ‘God bless you’ to which I replied, please also give your thoughts and blessings to my friends who make this possible.

love to you all, from us.

A very special school….

This year the rains have been good. Very good. The road that I described last time as looking like the road to paradise is even more so; verdant wetlands bordering a lake, big fields of maize every so often, and all framed by the towering wooded hills that bring the rain clouds. It looks like how you imagine a tropical country to be.

This last stage of the trip along the winding dirt road, Ketty’s eyes are shining; I look round at her and she gives me a big smile and both thumbs up. Excited. The generosity and kindness from all of you who’ve donated has led to this moment. Our heartfelt thanks once again. I can’t give you the first hand feeling of this delightful adventure, but I can give you some pictures, below.

Nora, the principal of Magwero school for the deaf greets us with a hug; everyone here is soft, kind. Gentle people. Ketty has her hand in mine as we wait to pay the fees, a father of another small first-time deaf girl asks me, ‘are you her father? ‘ Quite funny when you see how black Ketty is and how white me!! I laugh, ‘no, but I wish I was, it would make me very proud’.

The house ‘mother’ who will look after the 9 little girls who are here to learn sign language in this first year, before starting the academic year 1 ‘proper’, signs to the older girls to help Ketty with her things in the dormitory, then all too soon she takes Ketty kindly but firmly, waves goodbye to us, gestures Ketty to do the same (her experience says no prolonged farewells), then turns with her and walks off.

…that’s the worst bit over…

A couple of days ago, Alice and I sat down with Ketty, armed with pictures of Magwero school, maps,dsc02164 pictures to explain that I had to return to the UK in 2 months. Purpose… to tell her she was going to school, AND she was going to stay there during term time.

Gulp, I was dreading it. Some days Ketty is so small and vulnerable and needy I thought she might completely freak at the idea. ‘We can always delay until next year’, I said to Alice. ‘No’, was the reply, ‘She has to go, she needs this’. Alice is made of sterner stuff than I, fortunately.

dscf0467I showed her the first picture of Magwero. She broke into a huge smile, pointing at herself, questioning. Yes, we nodded. She was so excited, then made the ‘sleeping’ sign questioning again. ‘Yes’ we said, you’ll stay there.

So that was cool. My concerns dissipated in a moment! I showed her all the school stuff I’d brought, school bags, exercise books, pens, sleeping bag, etc, and scenes of delight and excitement. Cool. That’s that bit done. I’ll do a post when we’ve taken her there next week.

 

 

 

 



Zambia 2, getting ready for school ?

So here I am again, back in Zambia Eastern Province, at the end of a long and gruelling year for the people here. Drought and famine have cast a shadow over some, especially out in the bush. President -elect Trump tells us that global warming is a myth; I’d love for him to come and see the real world, live like these guys do for a few months. But here at the community centre people are ever cheerful, loving, supportive of each other, and greeted me like a long awaited brother. And these last 2 days, the rains have started…fantastic… so we hope at least there will be crops this year.

dscf0184

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ketty was very happy to see me. Now she’s got over the initial euphoria of having her personal muzungu (white guy) slave, she’s really bossing me about!! I can take it. We’re doing a bit of artwork most days, along with just playing, enjoying the environment. She learns really quickly, very acutely intelligent, learned the camera in a few minutes and went round taking pics of all the other kids. They tend to look on her as a strange one because she has no language and just makes noises, but with the camera she became the boss, ordering them into formation to take pictures. Hilarious to watch her suddenly bossing them around!

Her mum, Alice, and I went into the local town yesterday to buy school stuff. The place is different to our nice tidy streets and shops. Stalls line dirt streets with music blaring at max, and people staring at the white guy. But I’m ok, I’m accepted because I’m with Alice so I meet people and …suddenly…the place is friendly and fun. A tailor shop to buy school uniform has the tailors sitting at their sewing machines in the shop front. I love this place.

I gave Ketty a soft toy, cuddly dog that she now sleeps cuddled up to, and tomorrow I will give her the skipping rope that Bryony bought for her.

More pics and story soon.

love to all, Tony