Today is my forty-fifth wedding anniversary. After a weekend honeymoon in Cape Breton, my new husband and I went to Montreal where we joined a group of volunteers going to Africa. Our post was in Lusaka, Zambia where we worked for the next two years. We were 21 years old and full of the enthusiasm and idealism of the young. We wanted to make a difference and in a small way, I believe we did.
I taught Math and English at a secondary school and during one of the school breaks, I wrote a Math text book for adult literacy. John worked in Telecommunications and taught at a local technical college. He also taught a Math course at the newly opened University of Zambia.
During another break, I also gave birth to our first daughter, Michelle, who was born naturally without medication or even the presence of a doctor!!! When she was one month old, I went back to my teaching job.
Every day, we would have young people, barefoot and carrying their elementary school-leaving certificates, asking for a place in our school. It was heartbreaking to have to say that there was no room. They realized how important an education was.
Africa is so beautiful, but it is so much more. We have a photo of ourselves, sitting at the edge of Victoria Falls. The baboons were scampering around in the trees, the spray of “the smoke that thunders” soaked us but we were happy in our simple life. We owned nothing except a bicycle and a rusty old car that cost us $240. At the end of each month, if we had one kwatcha left over, we considered ourselves well off. We still look at that photo when we want to remember the two people we were then and who we still want to be.
When we came back to Canada two years later, we brought with us everything we owned in the world, a suitcase with a few articles of clothing and a baby. I have memories of Africa and her people and landscape that will always be in my heart. That’s who I am!
Africa, always in my heart. Always.