Hello everyone!

To introduce myself, I am Jessica Cramer, and I’m one of the newer additions to the Special Hope Network (SHN) staff. I arrived at the beginning of August and have been here in Lusaka for almost two months, and I love every second of being here!

Although life here is much different than I had imagined, I’m finding each day that there are slices of daily life that when meeting people, experiencing the pace of the city, and exchanging friendly smiles make Zambia feel like home.  I’ve joined SHN’s team as a Speech-Language Pathologist, but I’m finding my usefulness in certain roles change with the needs of each day. One day a therapist, the next a curtain-sewer.  In the morning a reassuring voice, and by evening a friend. On Monday I’m a patient teacher and by Friday a humble learner. The fluidness of my roles truly stretches my abilities as a Speech Therapist, but I’m finding the humbleness acquired through those instances are invaluable learning opportunities that provide grace for mistakes that I make (and I’m bound to make in the future!)

When asked to give a perspective as a new arrival here in Zambia, there are many temporal circumstances and environmental differences that had initially arisen to the forefront of my mind regarding moving to a new country. From learning the minibus transportation system to eating my dinner in the dark because there is no power, and even eating a crocodile burger, these first few months have been bustling with new experiences. I’ve found since my arrival that entering a new culture explicitly shows us how differently the world works, and how humbling it is to learn from people in the new culture.

One central observation I’ve noted in recent weeks very clearly expresses the heart of Special Hope. As you can read in previous blog posts (See Amber’s post from November 2016), and as I’ve gotten to know new people in the Special Hope family, the sustainability of this organization is quite remarkable! Special Hope is not only seeking to provide excellent therapy, education, and health services to those who do not have access to it, but they seek to raise up and empower the mothers, fathers, siblings, and other local Zambians to care for, teach, and pour out the God-designed value of each child with disabilities’ life.

What is the most impactful part of Zambia I’ve observed so far is the heart behind how SHN teachers empower each child and family. SHN teachers don’t seek to encourage a child out of vanity or self-pride. Each teacher I have met breaks the cultural framework on disability by expressing an unbridled compassion for each student and their family, just as Christ expressed for those who rejected Him. Observing the selflessness and caring instruction of the teachers at SHN so impacted me and reminded me of Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 13:3-5 (HCSB),

_And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body in order to boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, it is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs.͟

Nothing can be gained without love, and that’s exactly what SHN exemplifies towards everyone who walks through the doors. For those who have been rejected, feel isolated, or have been treated unfairly, SHN beacons the love and presence of life from the ONE who gives it. Through the power of Jesus, SHN brings purpose and hope into each child’s life. And that’s what I absolutely adore about this place. I’m so humbled to be a part of this organization, and I highly anticipate what great things are to happen in the near future!

So, thank you to those who are reading this either near or far. Because of your support through prayers and financial giving, children with disabilities lives are being changed every single day.

The light of Christ is being shown through the compassionate teaching of the staff here, in a local, culturally relevant context that helps each child achieve success. Without your support, these compassionate services wouldn’t be happening today. Words are not adequate to describe the immeasurable impact made on each student’s life. Just the proof of each child’s success exemplifies the power of your support! Thank you!

Grace and Peace,