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Africa: Twachiyanda Part 2

(you can see all my blogs about Africa by clicking here)

This is my second to last post from my trip to Africa. I’m pretty bummed to be at the ending of these images, but I’m so very proud of them and excited to share the final few. I will have more reflections and thoughts about the trip on my final post.

Our second and final day at Twachiyanda was more business-like than anything we’d done so far. There was a brief meeting with teachers in the morning and then there was a ceremony to open up the new teacher’s dormitories. And by ceremony, I don’t mean a short, 30 minute ribbon cutting ceremony…I mean a 3-4 hour, out in the sun all day, long ordeal! I got a little burned and that was the one day that I felt truly exhausted from what we were doing.

First up was a meeting with the teachers to discuss stuff they need, how the school is doing and to show them some new computer stuff.

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This is Al…he drove us all over Zambia and works for World Vision. One of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.

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So here is Bernd talking about the Next Unit of Computing (NUC) computer that basically acts like a web server for students, delivering Wikipedia and Khan Academy videos for the kids. What Intel has done by installing a solar powered computer lab is unbelievable. And Bernd designed most of it.

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So this is a hilarious story…between the above picture and this one below, 15 minutes elapsed. But while Bernd was gone for that short time, he installed a wireless router and suddenly the computers had wi-fi connections to the NUC.

He did this in 15 minutes. When he walked back in the room, he goes “You have wifi now.” Everyone’s heads exploded (not really, but it was crazy how fast he did that!).

What it means for teachers is that they can now take a laptop to a classroom away from the computer lab, and then connect wireless to their web server. So they can now present information and all kinds of stuff. Pretty amazing.

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The ceremony setup was beginning…these guys were drumming to pass the time.

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I like this picture of Austin inside a classroom talking to the media.

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The media from Lusaka and elsewhere came all the way to Twachiyanda to cover the ceremony. They wanted to talk to Austin and Kelly Sim about how the school started and their ongoing work to continue expanding it.

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Austin’s mom, Denise, hates being on camera, but she had to here when a reporter pretty much cornered her! She did great of course!

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A bit of the crowd on hand to watch the ceremony.

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Austin with the Chief

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A singer/dancer providing entertainment.

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One of the girls from the crowd gets up and starts dancing. It’s crazy how many people were sitting around for 3-4 hours in the sun. I almost died.

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The white folks get up to dance!

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Kelly was nervous the night before about getting up to talk, but she rocked it! I told the story in another post, but if you missed it…the school is named Jonathan Sim after her late husband. He worked for World Vision and loved their cause, so when he passed, she wanted to do something in his honor. So she ended up working with Hoops of Hope to get get the school going. So amazing.

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Austin’s turn!

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The choir at the school sang a song while holding these laptops to signify how important they were to the students.

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This kid plus two others performed a reciting of a poem, which was almost rap-like. I thought it was awesome, but there was a verse in their about “Austin’s mother’s womb being blessed because he was brought forth from it.” Or something like that. We were laughing about it the rest of the trip!

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Some kids who were watching…love these two photos.

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Austin’s parents, Dan and Denise posing in front of the plaque dedicating the building.

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These two awesome boys walked up to meet Dan and then took us on a tour of their dormitory.

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This is the amazing computer lab. So brilliant.

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The boys’ bunks

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“Plumber boy on the beat”….this cracked me up, had to get a shot.

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The last time Hoops of Hope had been to the Jonathan Sim school, there was no running water for the boys…and now they have. Amazing to see the progress.

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Hey that’s me!

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A few more kids back at the ADP offices before we left for Choma.

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I had to sorta maneuver them to hold each other’s hands, but I love this!

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Saying goodbye to Happiness and her friends who cooked us amazing food!

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The entire trip Austin always talked about how much better the views are from on top of the LandCruisers. He was right. Also I want one of those LandCruisers. Badly. I guess they cost $100k or something insane. I still want one.

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One last soccer kick-around with the neighborhood kids.

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I believe this is the last kid I got to take a picture of. He kept creeping closer and closer to the vehicle, so I took one and showed it to him.

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And then JP came up and grabbed him in a big bear hug!

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And then we were off to Choma to spend the night before we hit Livingstone the next day. It was sad to know that the main reason for our trip was at an end. The kids, the schools…all of it was behind us now. And while inside I was started to get really excited to see my wife and kids again, I was bummed knowing I had likely taken my last photo of a Zambian child.

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The last photo of the day. Austin with George, the young man he sponsors. I think it much be such an amazing thing to be a sponsor and meet the child you are helping.

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Africa: Twachiyanda Part 1

(you can see all my blogs about Africa by clicking here)

Twachiyanda…if we were ever out in the bush in Africa, this was the place. A long paved road, and then a paved road that had lots of rough areas, and then a dirt road, and then a bumpier dirt road. It was truly in the middle of nowhere. This was the day that ended with a soccer match that put everything into perspective for me. It was an incredible day…I saw so much, learned so much and really got an idea of what Hoops of Hope, World Vision and Intel are doing out there to help.

The day began at our hotel in Choma. We stayed here overnight after leaving Sinazongwe. Before we headed to the school though we dropped off some food for a family going through some painful stuff. I’ll show the pictures of that further down.

Before we left, JP of course had to climb the water tower. He supposedly has scaled a 1,000 foot cliff buck-naked. Dude is a legend.

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Here we meet Charles (grey jacket) who is the head of the ADP in Twachiyanda. What a guy. Infectious smile. He reminded me of Chris Tucker 🙂

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We stopped real quick at a Spar for food to bring to a family. I snapped some photos of the random things I saw. Like the hair extensions. And all the cooking oil in the next photo.

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This was the other side of a normal Coke can. Why don’t we have stuff like this in America???

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So this is Kenneth. He is a driver for World Vision and was supposed to take us to Twachiyanda but he couldn’t. His daughter, who has been sick for a lot of her life, was in hospital. We dropped by his house to bring food, which is a tradition in their culture. Any home who has someone real sick, the community brings them food. What a beautiful idea.  And what an amazing smile by Kenneth.

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Kenneth and his son.

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Kenneth’s boys…this guy with the ears, sooooo cute!

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Austin loves this man. Kenneth was there on Austin’s first trip to Africa in 2007. He’s like a brother to Austin. When we got back into the truck, Austin had tears streaming down his face. It was hard for him knowing how painful things were for Kenneth and his family.

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On the way to Twachiyanda…

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This girl in the orange is Happiness. I love the names that some of the Zambians have. She was indeed happiness. She cooked the most amazing food.

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Here Kelly Sim got to see one of her sponsored children again. The girl was so cute and so shy, it was fun to watch!

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This is George, a young man that Austin and his family sponsor.

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This is the Chief of Twachiyanda…an honor to meet him.

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Back in 2007 when Austin came to Africa for the first time, he had an entourage of CBS Sports and NBC to film the entire thing. Here you can see the CBS Sports video that aired before the Final Four one year.  Ashley Judd narrated it! Here the Chief is watching it for the first time…and he actually appears in it.

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So the school in Twachiyanda is called Jonathan Sim High School. It was named after Kelly’s husband. When he passed away, she knew she wanted to do something for the kids in Zambia because it was such a passion for her husband who worked for World Vision. She ended up joining efforts with Austin and Hoops of Hope to help build the school. On the way to the school they reminisced on that whole story…it was fun to hear!

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A lot of our time at this school was to tour the new buildings and all the stuff being constructed. The school is growing!

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They cook meals for all the kids everyday from this little covered area. Was crazy.

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Of course we found some little kids nearby.

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This dude was the best. He just followed us everywhere. You’ll see.

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I started a little game of frisbee with a lid of a paint can, and then got some shots of Austin playing too.

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A few moments after taking this photo, she started crying. Scary white man!

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There he is again!

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And again!

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Well, you get the idea…

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Denise was playing with them, they loved it 🙂

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Austin and George looking pretty snazzy.

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Love these kids.

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This is the computer lab that Intel installed there a few years ago. It’s insane. Solar powered. Fans. Wood doors. All made out of a cargo container.

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Austin doing some introductions in a meeting with the teachers.

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So as I’ve said before, Austin is pretty amazing. They wanted him to speak to the students of the school, so he just walked in to this massive group of children and encouraged them, inspired them and it was incredible to witness.

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More beautiful kids and beautiful faces.

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See, there’s that boy again! I love him!

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Thanks to Denise for getting them all organized for a group shot!

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Okay…this little guy…I mean…look at him. He’s like an old man. Hands in his pocket…menacing.

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Ah…but then he smiles 🙂

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Back at the ADP offices, we had been waiting for others to show up, so I started kicking the soccer ball around with some neighborhood kids. After awhile more showed up and then Dan popped out saying it’s time for a game.

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We walked over to a nearby field and magic happened.

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I posted this before but it’s still one of my favorites from the trip.

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Thank you to Denise for getting a few of me playing!

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Around this time I stopped for a few minutes and just soaked it all in. I was standing on a field playing soccer with kids in Africa. In the middle of nowhere. And the sunset was beautiful. And the kids were joyful. And I had no phone, internet or anything to distract me.

It was a perfect moment.

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