Emma Edgeworth – Zambia (Update)

Emma Edgeworth – Early Childhood Development Specialist, Mongu Cheshire Home 
“Hello everybody, greetings again from Mongu, Zambia.  As I sit here, reflecting on the last seven months of my placement, I am struggling to put into words the experiences I have had. I suppose, sometimes words are not big enough to contain all the images and feelings you are trying to pour into them. I’m going to share with you some positive experiences that have happened in the past few weeks which may give you some insight into life here in Zambia.
In the last few weeks I have been receiving lots of news from home regarding Christmas celebrations! Here in Mongu, we have been having some celebrations of our own. On the 3rd of December we celebrated ‘International Day of Person’s with Disabilities’.  Together with the community we celebrated all the amazing things that people with disabilities have to offer. The Cheshire Home children performed the Twelve Day’s of Christmas which was the performance of the day – perhaps I’m being a little bit biased! As a group of over two hundred people, we chanted “Disability is not Inability” and we truly believed it. This experience for the children was invaluable, to be surrounded by the local community who believe in their strengths and capabilities and who are fighting to promote their rights as human beings and protect their well-being.
On the 6th of December, Cheshire Home had their annual Christmas play. All of the children’s parents who had travelled from their villages for end of term, were treated to a performace of the Nativity. From the role of Joseph to the role of the donkey, each child had a part to play. I realised during the performance that I did not even notice the children’s disabilities – the inkeeper was a wheelchair user, one of the shepards sheep was blind, what I saw was a group of resilient and unique children performing for their parents and all the Cheshire Home Staff. 
It’s experiences such as these one’s that have coloured my life here for the past seven months.  What I have learned from life here in Zambia, is that all hands are not dealt equally. I believe that this statement is true for all humans. But what I have also learned is that when there is hope, change is possible, and change is happening all over the world, every day. What is hope? Well for me, right now –
Hope is when a child arrives to Cheshire Home and they get to attend school for the first time.
Hope is a child feeding their friend because that friend cannot feed themselves.
Hope is the dedication of the Presentation Sisters and all the Cheshire Home staff.
Hope is the children teaching me new things every day.
Hope is the changing attitudes and behaviours of the community towards people with disabilities. These changes may be small and at times, painstakingly slow but they are real and in the end, when they all add up together they will lead to a better future for people with disabilities.
If you are on placement abroad or at home while you read this, I wish you a very happy and peaceful Christmas.