Healthy and Happy Futures Begin at ECD Centers in Zambia
Meet Trevor, a young person who is helping Episcopal Relief & Development heal a hurting world. Discover what Trevor learned from his recent trip to Zambia where he photographed our Early Childhood Development forum in Lusaka, which took place on May 24, 2017.
I had read the 5-year program report, seen the numbers, facts and figures. On my trip to Zambia in May 2017, I photographed the Early Childhood Development (ECD) forum, where I heard speeches extolling the program from senior staff at the Zambia Anglican Council Outreach Programmes (ZACOP) and Episcopal Relief & Development staff. But despite the world of information I had absorbed, it was only when I visited two ECD centers in person that the impact these programs are having on the communities around them was made clear.
Getting a pre-school education is something that much of the world takes for granted. In rural Zambia, however, this concept is only just starting to take hold thanks to the ZACOP/Episcopal Relief & Development joint effort. The program assists families in keeping their kids healthy, happy and educated – things that had previously been unattainable in rural areas.
Children from villages all around the recently erected structure can now come and receive the basic knowledge that forms the foundation for all future education, thanks to volunteer teachers like Dina Manda. “I’m passionate to work with the children, [and] play with the children. I’ve got [a] heart to save the children’s lives… so that’s why I’m here,” she said.
The curriculum at the Kasenga ECD center includes five subjects: environmental science, social studies, math, language and literature and expressional arts. Children are taught in their local language and also learn some English words and songs.
None of this existed even a few years ago, and would not be possible today without sustainable recruitment of dedicated volunteers and the participation of nearby families. Through the Early Childhood Development program, parents learn improved parenting practices to promote bonding and stimulate early learning. They also increase the capacity to meet their children’s needs through savings groups, in which 25% of savings goes towards their children’s health and education.
Equally important, though perhaps more exciting for the kids, are the pieces of playground equipment outside the center. Once given the opportunity, they run about and play. (Browse through the slideshow!)
Seeing people my age, the parents of the children I met, saving up 50 cents a week in savings groups to feed their new families was a stark contrast from my peers bemoaning how broke they were while eating non-GMO vegan food served by a university costing many thousands of dollars a year.
Watching the children at play however, made me feel like I was right back on the sandy playground of my church pre-school. That this nurturing environment exists fills me with hope for the future of Zambia, Africa and the world.
Trevor LaVine is a student at the University of Vermont studying Political Science and International Relations. He is a former editor-in-chief at The Glen Echo. This was his first adventure to Africa.
Images were taken by Trevor LaVine. Top, Child hugs teddy bear tightly in a ECD classroom; Middle 1, Class engaged in a lesson; Middle 2, “We Jump Under The Mango Tree!”; Middle 3, Slideshow of students playing on the playground at an ECD center.