Earlier this fall Ken Auer travelled to Tanzania and Zambia to explore future ministry opportunities. He was accompanied by Henri and Chimelle Kadima, friends of ours who used to attend Cornerstone but are now leading a church in Garner called International Group of Friends of Christ (GRIAC for short, from the French name of the church). We asked Ken to write a report about his trip. In December we'll have a reception for him, where he'll be able to say a little more.
In the pre-mission report we shared the goals of a meeting in Karansi, Tanzania. Brothers and sisters in Christ involved in ministry to the fatherless, widows and poor in the Democratic Republic of Congo (particularly in Lemba imbu and Pweto) and Zambia (Mpika) came to SIHA Leadership School. We came to learn from others, gain a vision, and determine next steps.
Mission Accomplished - Part 1
The Lord did exceedingly, abundantly beyond all that we ask or thought. Rather than go into a day-by-day summary, I think it best just to highlight some major learnings and then discuss next steps. We were incredibly welcomed at SIHA Leadership School (SLS) in Karansi, Tanzania and were blown away by what we saw in both the children, the methods, and the passion of the staff. They were so incredibly transparent, and we look forward to exploring how the team in Tanzania, Congo, and Zambia might work together. We all are looking forward to future discussions with Ubora and the contribution from their team and supporters back in the US.
After several days of observing and fellowship with the staff of SLS, all the visitors agreed that each sub-team determine their individual vision and next steps before determining the specific ways we can support each other.The GRIAC (International Group of Friends of Christ) team (back row to the right of Ken) consisted of:
Théophile Mpetembe Ntumba from Montreal Canada,
Henri & Chimelle Kadima from the US, and
Ulysse Kalunga from tutoring ministry in Lemba imbu.
Ken returned to Mpika, Zambia to observe the contrast of the conditions there and develop a vision for next steps there with:
Raidon Mutale (Fountain Resource Center, front center)
Ireen Muyabela Mutale (Fountain Resource Center, front right),
Belinda Chitusa (Latterrains Christian School, wearing hat, middle right),
Pastor Geoffrey Siame (Latterrains Christian School, glasses on head), and
Passpect Kasondela Chiyavula (Latterrains Christian School, far left).
Prisca (front left) was a delightful teacher from SLS who was our constant escort and hopes to continue the relationship as a mentor to the other teachers in the near future.
A pleasant surprise awaited the Zambian contingent. Patricia Chewe Mwambazi (Trish) - a prayer partner for Latterrains from Lusaka (the capital of Zambia) who is a high level administrator in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development - was led by the Spirit to come to Mpika to join the group and see first hand what is happening at Latterrains. She provided great insight into some of the initiatives of the new government, the current state of things, and perspectives on business and community possibilities to support the work in and around Mpika.
We observed and were welcomed by the school students and staff at Latterrains.
You might observe the contrast in the classroom at Latterrains with SLS (below). The resources at SLS are comparatively sparse.
Ken also spent time with Raidon Ireen to observe their efforts to date on a forthcoming primary school (roughly equivalent to our high schools) and vision for Fountain Restoration Centre as well as get a first hand look at a public school in the area.
The current state of public schools in Zambia - though now “free” - is extremely poor with 60-110 students in a classroom without enough desks and almost no resources. Absenteeism is incredibly high and motivation for most students is incredibly low for many reasons. It is easy to see why Latterrains has made such an impact in spite of their relatively sparse resources through the dedication, love, and innovation of its team. The children there love their school and know they are loved. With closer to a 30:1 student-teacher ratio, the teachers have more ability to develop deeper relationships with the children
With the Latterrains group, we also observed the supporting businesses and other local partners, and had wonderful times of fellowship. In follow up discussions, we created a draft of a 10-year and 3-year visions, 1-year goals. We then identified initial steps for this coming quarter based on priorities/prerequisites in order to achieve the 1 year goals.
We also observed the poor infrastructure that makes getting to/from and around Mpika difficult on both the “highway”...
...and the internal roads.
But we also learned that there are several government initiatives that should make some significant progress in 2024 as the previous administration neglected the roads and other infrastructure outside of the capital of Lusaka. There is a desire to raise the standards in the more rural parts of Zambia that should both help outside access and potentially raise the economy of these areas.
Flying Mission Zambia helped get Ken from Kopa (3 hours of bumpy rides in a Land Rover from Mpika) to Lusaka through the air and explained what has to happen to get the airstrip in Mpika licensed for commercial use. We also learned how they operate for potential future use. The contact with Trish has initiated potential progress to get the Mpika airstrip licensed in the future.
In Lusaka, we had a providential meeting with Jim Evans, Program Director of Agriculture and Trades Innovation in addition to several interim positions at Family Legacy in Lusaka. They have been established for a while and - although we did not get to observe the classrooms as it was a national Teacher's Workday - we received an amazing overview of their heart and work there with the fatherless. Uniquely, they have provided agricultural and trades training in addition to academic training for the kids.
In Zambia, we have agreed on basic priorities and desired next steps. This includes:
- Building a security wall around Latterrains current main campus (though resources are currently lacking, there has been a variety of things stolen, which would only increase if more resources are on campus).
- Building a well on campus to provide water for cooking and small-scale growing.
- Discuss potential teacher training and phonics and math resources for pre-school and lowest grades.
- Explore child sponsorship program similar to Ubora/SIHA or Family Legacy starting with the youngest kids.
- Explore organizational options in both Zambia and the US to both simplify partnership in the short-term and have the best long-term impact.
Henri Kadima and others returned to Congo after their time in Zambia. Henri informed me that they had felt led to support the start-up of the school in Pweto with David Kiluba Mumba as a priority. Ulysse will visit Pweto to review documents and plans to start school with lower grades in September. They are trying to coordinate some teacher recruitment and mentoring from the team in Tanzania.
Since Coming Home
Since returning I've met with representatives of Ubora to debrief. They are supportive of teacher training in Zambia and Congo. We will begin to coordinate details. I've also had a chance to talk to Family Legacy who is in a process of refocusing after recovery from expanding too fast and needing to fill some key positions. They will not be able to provide any organizational support, but will provide advice and consulting on agricultural and vocational skills training.
I am also exploring getting assistance from Mission Triangle - a non-profit who provides (mostly free) organizational help for non-profits. Latterrains is in the process of registering an international non-profit to oversee their future development, and GRIAC is reviewing their organization efforts.
We're also having discussions about how Cornerstone may participate in future efforts.
As you can see, there's a lot going on! So, we covet your prayers.