Nikki Packer Experiencing life in Lusaka, Zambia
This week I was taken on my 'walkabout' in the local compound, to see where the majority of kids who use the library come from. The best way I can describe it is to say that it is like those films you see on TV where a celebrity goes to a 'slum' somewhere in Africa, and they interview a few sick/malnourished/sad looking people and they cry a bit, and there is some kind of emotional music, and at the end there is a number for you to call and donate money to a charity. All of which is very important. Except this wasn't a film, it was real life, and there was nobody offering these people money as far as I could see, they just had to get on with things. And on TV you don't necessarily realise just how tiny and shoddy the houses are, and you can't smell the sewage that flows through the streets, and you're not having to look where you're going so you don't step in it - but all the time trying your hardest to keep on smiling so that you don't offend any of the people who live there (people who were surprisingly friendly and welcoming to the Muzungu who was wandering around staring at them). So I really can't find the words to describe how important places like the Fountain of Hope and Lubuto Libraries are, because generally, I don't think that the people who live in places like that have a huge amount of hope available to them - and anything that gives them some tiny glimmer is worth it a million times over.
On Friday we showed a motivational film in the Library – Blindside (starring Sandra Bullock). Never before have I seen so many kids crammed into a space, watching so attentively – even when their teachers were out of the room! The atmosphere was brilliant and really positive, and it brought so many first time visitors in. A success all round, I’d say.