This month, nine of our staff members (along with 3 U.S. volunteers) traveled to visit the Sangwani Community School, 50 kilometers outside of Lusaka, to provide training and encouragement to the members of Sangwani village.

Read on to hear from two of our dedicated staff members, Alex and Rebecca, as they share their experiences and reflections from this impactful trip:

Faced with the challenge of a distant government school, where children had to endure long walks to access education, the resilient members of Sangwani village took matters into their own hands. They rallied together and established a community school.

They recently made the addition of a special class for children with disabilities, with 31 students attending twice a week and provided with lunch. This inclusive initiative reflects the community’s dedication to ensuring every child has access to education, regardless of ability.

During our visit, we discussed ways to support the school in building capacity within their team. We agreed to provide training for staff to better understand and support students with disabilities. Additionally, advocacy training will equip staff to become disability advocates, fostering a more inclusive environment.

We also committed to supporting them during their engagement settings with key community leaders to dispel myths and promote inclusion. Together, we’ll take proactive steps to create a supportive environment for children with disabilities.

We also joined with the Sangwani community for an awareness campaign, led by our Community Outreach team and visiting American volunteers. It’s amazing what can happen when we work together!  

I was deeply moved by the passion and dedication of the Sangwani community. Their proactive approach to addressing challenges without waiting for external support serves as a shining example for us all.

Alex Chitumbo
Director of Programs: Community Outreach
Special Hope Network

I first connected with Sangwani School 5 years ago. They reached out on Facebook because we were planning the first Night to Shine Dance (FIRST EVER in Zambia!). Since then, I’ve been traveling out to see them, bringing school supply donations from the US, training and coaching their teachers, and looking for ways to increase their capacity.

My friends in the US paid for a borehole (well) to be put in at Sangwani so that the children who came to the school would have access to water. They took it SO much further by building a fence and creating a garden so they could start a feeding program for children! I’ve also been supporting them to ‘stretch their wings’ to search for children with disabilities in their surrounding villages.

Since we started this endeavor about 2 years ago, Special Hope has been out to train the staff twice, and Sangwani teachers/staff have come to Lusaka for training twice. They now have 31 children with disabilities that they serve, do child-find and family support for children with disabilities including medical care, and are partnering with us for Community Outreach and sensitization.

We are SO excited that our team at Special Hope is eager to create an ongoing partnership to further train Sangwani teachers/staff and also to try to reproduce these amazing results in other villages where children have limited/no access to services. We are honored and grateful to God for bringing Special Hope and Sangwani together!

Rebecca Lamendola Fry
Organizational Trainer
Special Hope Network

Your support is truly transforming communities in Zambia and creating places where children with intellectual disabilities and their families can belong and flourish. Thank you!