Zambian Independence Day at the Fountain of Hope Lubuto Library

October 24th was Independence Day in Zambia. It was a Bank Holiday, but some of the boys at Fountain of Hope asked me if I would still come to see them – and how could I refuse? I would have missed them too much if I had sat at home all day on my own anyway! Craft activities are very popular at the moment and the boys had asked if they could make something. I suggested that we could make something to celebrate Zambia and they seemed keen so I spent a happy half hour in preparation, collecting the materials we would need to make bunting in Zambian colours. The boys were very excited when I unpacked this in the morning and set about decorating the Art Room with much enthusiasm (which allowed me an hour or so of uninterrupted and much needed library-tidying time, oh joy!). Then followed a very long (and exhausting, considering it was so hot and humid) session of dancing – including several renditions of YMCA, which is by far the favorite both in terms of the actions and the relevance of the lyrics. We have had quite a few new boys at FoH recently and it was nice to see some of them joining in too. After lunch I unveiled my piéce de resistance – I had bought some plain biscuits and the wherewithal to make icing/decorations. This was met with a mixture of excitement (at the thought of being able to eat lots of biscuits), bemusement (just what is she planning on doing with that stuff?), and awe (so hang on a minute, you put a little bit of ‘sunshine’ food colouring in, and it looks red in the bottle, but then it turns the whole lot bright yellow?) but I think they all enjoyed it. I had a crowd of boys in the Art Room, all taking it in turns to blob bits of icing onto the biscuits and sprinkle Hundreds and Thousands over them. Not one person dipped their finger in the icing or tried to steal a biscuit before everything was finished (well, not one person except me!) and as soon as we were done, one of the boys ran off to the tap to wash all the bowls out. We counted them all out to ensure that there was enough for 2 biscuits each and then the cry of “Man U” went out. This is the holler we all wait for because it means that there is food available, and it is guaranteed to bring everyone running from all over the Centre – including me if it’s lunch time! A queue formed outside the door to the Art Room and the boys collected their goodies. The boys thanked me and one said that he would never have imagined such a food was possible!

It struck me how it’s the seemingly small things which mean such a lot to the boys here – spending time with them, doing activities which don’t cost a lot (if anything) and having some fun. I wonder how many teenagers in the UK would be as appreciative of a few Rich Teas and some icing sugar!