By Bob Fish
Less than a half hour after clearing the airport, we were at the Living Hope International Orphanage, meeting Davies’ wife, Josephine, and our State-side Living Hope friends, Lee and Kim. We were escorted to a circular hut where all the children were gathered to sing us a beautiful song.
After the song, each child came up, introduced themselves and shook our hands, some very shyly and some with big boisterous enthusiasm. There are currently 36 children housed at the orphanage, with plans to build accommodations for 68 more by the end of 2020.
Several of the children took us on a tour of their dormitories, the kitchen, the classroom and recreation areas. They proudly showed us their few belongings stowed neatly away. The children are responsible for learning how to do their own laundry, make their own beds, clean their own bathrooms, in short – life skills, and the older children help the younger ones. There was a palpable feeling of joy and ease.
The House Mothers then took us on a tour of their own suites. Each dormitory has a house mother who is with them full time, all the time. She teaches them how to clean and cook, and keeps them focused on their studies, but there’s a lot of love and play in it, too. You can feel the pride each house mother has for her young charges.
We met a child who was relatively new to the orphanage. She had a kind of far away, dazed look in her eyes. Lee told me that’s how all the new arrivals come to them… it takes time and love for them to feel safe and start coming out of their shells.
Being Sunday afternoon, we all retired to see the children play on a patch of grass that Living Hope had turned into a full scale soccer field. (READ: Moving the Ball) Michelle and I were operating on fumes by then, and we all agreed to check into the nearby local Hotel where we met peacocks and impalas. We never slept so well. (READ: Mukuba Hotel: The Gem of the Copperbelt)