By Jessica Long
he KnowledgeBeat girls have arrived in Zambia after a long and frustrating journey. In the short time they’ve been away, they have already faced many joys and sorrows, extreme times of fear and radiant times of hope. This mission has already proven itself to be bigger, harder and more powerful than ever imagined.
The initial struggles of their journey included internal African flights, the lack of Zambian infrastructure and vehicles was a huge hindrance upon their immediate arrival; along with various cultural barriers in the means to approaching serious discussions and monetary negotiations. Despite these impediments, Annie and Margaret have purchased a “KnowledgeBeat vehicle”, successfully rooted their belongings in a house and have quickly become “celebrities” in their community. Their faces precede themselves as their purpose and KnowledgeBeat affiliation is known prior to first introductions and first sightings. Only to be expected as a white female in a remote African village.
As streets fill with individuals who realize the mission of KnowledgeBeat and recognize the girls even with their eyes half open, for Annie and Margaret each minute of interaction shines significance. As refreshing as it was for Annie to be back in Ngoma, a place she once lived and is still remembered by some, to be back in Africa is far from tranquil. From hippo’s grazing within a pebble throw of their tent one sleepless night, to an uneasy car ride containing Margaret and three men nestling their machine guns, their time is never dull.
Looking past the tsetse flies and a stolen engine cap, their mission to encourage students and connect with all members of the community is progressing gradually. The mentorship sessions for the girl’s empowerment camp have taken hold in the Ngoma School system. As the camp “promotes girls education and encourages girls to break free from the traditional cultural molds in Zambia” several young females have already blinked eyes of enlightenment. In a session focused on medical professions, the role of doctors versus nurses, the teachers of the camp stressed the reality that females too, can be doctors.
At the beginning of the session, almost every girl in the class expressed that she would prefer to be a nurse over a doctor. By the end, the ratio of desired professions had practically reversed. Even more, Boronah, one of the girls enrolled in the camp, visited Annie and Margaret late one night to show her appreciation and admit her self determination. The KnowledgeBeat girls reminded Boronah of the scholarship program being offered by KnowledgeBeat while exuding happiness from within. Given the task these girls have taken on and the gaping contingencies they neglected to foresee, it is these special moments of the expressed gratitude from Boronah, or the cooking lessons from their Zambian “mom”, that make it all worth while. It is these instances that keep these girls positive and remind them of the ultimate goal.