I write to you today four weeks from my departure from Zambia. I leave Zambia on July 22nd and will arrive in Milwaukee late on July 23rd. I feel so many emotions as I approach the conclusion of this transformative year. I’m more than excited to see all of you again soon, and honestly, I’m currently feeling exhausted from the fatigue that usually comes midway through a school term.
At the same time, I can’t imagine saying goodbye to the people around me who have changed my life. Teaching computers, mostly in theory with only my personal laptop available, has certainly been a challenge, but yesterday I had my students make posters about some of the concepts like icons and the Microsoft suite programs we have been studying. I enjoyed just sitting at my classroom table watching each of their personalities come out as they were having obvious fun with the few art materials we had. Each one of them is unique and I count myself lucky to know them. I can say the same thing about my host family, my fellow teaches, and my church community.
I know my last few weeks will fly by before I know it. The other YAV, Rebecca, and I have organized a thank you lunch for all the Zambians, from our host families to the administration at the Synod level, that have made the Zambia YAV program possible. We will enjoy food and memories at the home of our coordinator and PCUSA Mission Co-Worker, Sherri Ellington, on July 11. Over the fourth of July weekend, Sherri, Becca and I will have our last YAV retreat, traveling to a lodge in northern Zambia where I’m told there are beautiful views and some nice animals. (But no carnivores, thank goodness, so I can do some running J) This will be a time for us to reflect on the year and prepare for departure. On my last Sunday in Zambia my church will honor me during and after service. I’ve been to one departure celebration before and they made the person sit in the front while everyone dances a gift and hug up the aisle to the person. Then finally, I need to have everything prepared for the end of the school term. Unfortunately, I will be leaving two weeks before the term closes but I plan to leave the school with lesson plans, tests, and answer keys—all work I have yet to do.
I would appreciate your thoughts and prayers for me and Rebecca, and both of our communities, as we enter this bittersweet time. As I approach the finish line of my YAV year, I once again reflect on how your support has made this year possible. Without your donations and well-wishes I could never have become Hannah Tembo, a sister and daughter in a Zambian family, teacher at King David School, singer in the Mighty Angels Choir, namesake to a new baby, and friend to many. I am transformed by the joy of Zambians, but also by my first hand experiences of the injustices of poverty and unequal opportunity.
I come home to remain changed and keep transforming, to keep working to make the world more just and equal. I hope to see you soon, share more stories, and I hope you will join me wherever God is taking me to use my life for love and unity.
Zikomo Kwambiri! (Thank you very much!)
P.S. The photo is of me and baby, Cynthia Hannah, the daughter of one of the teachers.