One of the activities that we do at Lubuto is connect with children living and working on the streets. This week, I joined our outreach team from FOHLL at Lusaka’s Soweto Market and read The Three Little Pigs with children we met at the market. Brenda, one of our Program Facilitators, helped me translate the story into Nyanja. While I speak Nyanja, my native language is Bemba. It was a beautiful experience, reading amid very difficult circumstances. As we read, more and more children joined us, many sniffing “glue,” a common drug on the streets.
Our environment was a far cry from the comfort of a classroom in an elite American elementary school or even a Zambian classroom. A stream of dirty water flowed right by us and various types of trade happened in the open air market. There were stalls with used clothes, restaurants and electronics for sale. Some of the children were themselves parents, living on the streets with their families. There is a whole world on the streets, with their own economy – modes of earning a living – and communities.
But it was almost magical how we were all united in story. It seems we were, for that half hour, shut out from the rest of the world. Many children we meet on the streets are eventually drawn to Lubuto Library Programs. The Fountain of Hope, a local non-profit organization that hosts a Lubuto Library, helps reintegrate the children into society while Lubuto provides a rare opportunity for these children to explore talents they thought they never had, talk to a caring adult or simply come to a quiet place to read a book.
by Thomas Mukonde
About the Author:
Thomas Mukonde recently joined the Lubuto Library Project Zambia Office. Thomas is a native of the Copperbelt town of Kitwe. He grew up there and attended both public and private schools before proceeding to boarding school in the southern part of Zambia. After this, he studied under scholarships in the U.K. and the United States. In the U.S., he graduated with a B.A. in History from Georgetown University. After teaching for a year at a private, elite, school in Washington, D.C., Thomas decided to return home and give back to his community. During the months between returning to Zambia and beginning work with Lubuto, Thomas worked at a primary school that his family runs in Kitwe. Thomas has a deep interest in education and social equity. He is excited to be back in Zambia and working with the Lubuto Library Project in bringing quality library services to its vulnerable children.