Today I have been working on the data we collected during the camps, one thing we do is get the camp mentors and the SAPEP Project Officers to record the personal testimonies, stories if you like, of the children. The more testimonies I wrote up the more engrossed I became in them, to the point where I found myself glued to the page I was copying from – desperate to finish each story; barely looking up from the piece of paper in front of me to see what I had written on my computer. I would read the line of a story from a child I had spent 5 days with and it would often say something about how they lived with their grandparents. It was at this point, and only here, that I would pause and hope that they lived away from their parents because the parents could not afford to keep their children, that for some reason it was better for them to be staying with the grandparents; I was just hoping that the reason wasn't that their parents had died.
After reading and writing several similar stories and in the midst of reading another I realised that I had become used - even numb - to typing these stories out, stories like this:
"Jonah is 16 years of age and lives with his grandparents.
His parents died when he was young.
He has the problem of school fees."
In so few words is a story full of sadness told; three lines, three sentences and two parents that will never be forgotten.
Every single one of the children at the Kafwefwe OVC camp had lost at least one parent. Fifteen out of the thirty five had lost both. This was one camp of fourteen that we want to do. I then compared this with my experiences in the UK, wandering how many double orphaned children I had met before coming to Zambia. I can think of just one. How many would I meet by the time I left Zambia?The children, mentors and SAPEP staff at the end of the Kafwefwe 13-16 OVC camp.