Tuesday after a good breakfast by the local staff at the Lifesong Lodge, we headed to the Lifesong Farm. The Farm was established 7 years ago as a sustainable business to help the Lifesong Garneton School. The farm has produced some of the very best berries over the years, and currently has sales customers that include all of the major supermarkets in Zambia. There are no strawberries growing now because it is off-season, but the plan is to start planting the crops in the next few months. They will be doing some R&D using hydroponic planting this year, with the whole farm operation converted to hydroponics in 2019. In addition to the fresh berries, the farm also produces strawberry jam, strawberry pops, and also honey.
The next stop was at the Boys Life Center homes in Garneton. All of the high school boys stay here with house parents. The girls stay at the girls Life Center homes. Because of the poor economic conditions at home, and the lack of time to concentrate on home work, 9-12 boys live in these homes to improve their education and living conditions. Then we went to the Lifesong Garneton School, which is about 4 years ahead of the Harmony School since they started sooner. The school is now complete with primary to high school classes. Cooperation between the Garnaton and the Harmony school is occurring more and more, as each can learn best practices from each other.
For the afternoon we went back to the Lifesong Harmony school to work on the computer lab. The teachers and the students were so excited to have their new Chromebooks installed. Because of various internet challenges, Gary Tomic had his hands full to get the task accomplished. The eagerness to learn was so evident on the students, they could hardly wait for computers to get turned on. It was amazing to see that although they have had very little interactions with using computers, they found YouTube very quickly. This is one area that will be restricted due to very limited internet and also unnecessary surfing, that will take away from the teaching and moral principles that the children are taught.
For the evening we had a special treat for dinner. The teachers made us some traditional Zambian cuisine, and we all had this dinner at Dennis and Jazz’s home. In addition to the teachers attending, several of the students were also invited. At the end they gave us personal testimonies of how the school has changed their lives and it was very moving to hear of the extremely poor families these children have come from, and how eagerly they come to school. Some of them come at 6am because they want to have extra time to learn and read. They are very thankful for the support of many, and thanked us especially for the new library that was built over this past year.