View of Zambia from Within

Student Ambassador: Isabel Nampakwa Kapotwe

OWEd Ambassador Since: 2008

Grade 10

School David Kaunda Technical High School

Reflection Experience

Learning Activities

267For my whole life I have lived in Zambia which is located in central Africa. I am 16 years old and in the tenth grade at the David Kaunda Technical High School, a boarding school named after Zambia’s first president.  It’s a very nice school, especially compared to others in Lusaka. The academic expectations are high at DK (short for David Kaunda) because the teachers are serious and want the best for us. The nine subjects I am currently taking are physics, technology, math, Zambia HP PhotoEnglish, home management, physical education, geography, history, and chemistry. I am proud to say that I pass all of them because I study at my best level.

I do not think many kids my age know about Zambia but it is a wonderful place. I also think it is different from other countries but I do not know for sure. Many tribes make up Zambian society and three of them are the Bemba, Tonga, and Lozi. I think that Zambians are peace-loving people and very friendly. Many of our natural attractions are well liked by tourists such as Lumangwe Falls, Victoria Falls, the Zembezi River, and Lake Kariba. Throughout the country people go on safaris to see buffalo, giraffe, monkeys, zebra, hippos, rhinos, and lions.

The main religion in Zambia is Christianity although we have a few Hindus and Muslims.; Most people go to the Roman Catholic Church but I go to the Seventh Day Adventist. Although English is the official language of Zambia we speak many different languages. Of our 72 languages, Nyanja is the most common and Bemba is second. In Nyanja, “mulibwandi” means how are you and saying you are fine is “Bwimo.” Through these languages we share a feeling of belonging to our family.

We also have strong cultural traditions like dancing and beliefs on how to help people. One dance is the Makishi and it is performed by masked men called “Nyaus.” In Zambia when a person is sick some people go to the forest to dig roots that are then boiled to cure disease. We have many more traditions such as singing and art and many people play football although I do not.

Though a beautiful country, it is not easy to make ends meet in Zambia. I think this is especially true for teenagers like me. I do not remember my mum and my dad died when I was seven. He was the one person I had grown so fond of. I also had a baby brother but he died when he was just a baby. I do not remember him either. The thing that hurts the most is that no one will give me more information about what killed them because I do not know.

Before my dad died I was a happy child. Afterward, my relatives took me to my grandmother’s place. Although she did her best to give me a mother’s love, I was not happy because we lived in poverty. We would sometimes not eat anything for a whole day. Grandma did all she could to send me and my other orphaned cousins to school by starting a small business. During this time she had to play four roles; mum, dad, grandma, and financial provider.

People in Zambia are exposed to many diseases such as AIDS, malaria, polio, and measles. These diseases leave many children orphaned and many of them join large groups of street children. A lot of street children live in Lusaka. There are posters about AIDS in my school and we have a play called Sarah that we perform in our school as well. The same play is performed all over the country. The play has a lot to do with the stereotypes of AIDS and how there are many misunderstandings about how the disease is caught and how it can be cured. Some of the kids laugh when the play has a scene about a man believing his friend who tells him that the only way to cure AIDS is to sleep with a virgin.

This is one of the misconceptions. In my grandmother’s home we do not speak about this disease. I think that one way to fight these problems is to believe in your dreams. I want to study journalism in the United States or somewhere in Europe. This dream really keeps me going in hard times. I thought I was closer to my dreams when I was accepted to the David Kaunda School but there was a major problem. I didn’t have the money for tuition. My Grandma did all she could and eventually borrowed money from her friends for my education. Before this happened I was so scared that I wouldn’t be able to attend although I was one of the best pupils in my school.

So right now I am in the 10th grade and I am studying for several exams. I want to lead a better life that is free from poverty and suffering. I want to free my Grandma from taking care of the orphaned children whose parents are not alive or can care for their children. Right now she is taking care of eleven children including me on the weekends and when I am home from school on holiday. I would like to build an orphanage to give less fortunate children in Zambia an opportunity for better lives. I know this will be hard but it is important and I feel I will succeed.