Last Saturday we had a special visitor. A few days before we received a phone call from the Provincial Social Welfare office letting us know that a Minister (a government official--not a pastor) would be coming to visit us at the orphanage. Zambia has a parliamentary political system (which means....I don't have a clue) and so there are various levels of Ministers. Members of Parliament, cabinet members, elected and appointed. And they change fairly frequently so it is hard to keep track of.
We didn't know who exactly would be coming but we were happy to get some exposure for our project. Also, the provincial director of Social Welfare had never visited us so we were glad he would get to see all we do here. We gave the orphanage the proverbial spit and polish and waited anxiously.
When the Minister finally arrived he had a entourage of about 14 people with him. There were three vehicles. I was a little overwhelmed but took a deep breath and greeted everyone with a smile.
We were introduced and found out this wasn't just a member of parliament (like a senator or representative) but a Cabinet Member. Kinda like having Hillary Clinton visit your home.
Immediately I was positively surprised by the Honorable Minister, Mike Kaingu. He was friendly, listened well and was considerate of the children. They were napping when the group arrived and he didn't want to disturb them too much as we conducted the tour. I was not expecting this type of behavior.
We showed everyone around the orphanage and explained our philosophy or taking in and raising children who will grow up to be leaders to help build a better Zambia. We also showed the grounds including all we've done toward eventually becoming self-sustaining.
Later, after the tour, we offered cold drinks to the group but the Minister declined as we "probably need to save our resources for the children". Again, very different from what I was expecting.
There were, of course, members of the press in the group so at the end of the tour the Minister was interviewed by ZNBC (the national TV service) and he made some very positive remarks about the orphanage including saying that he has visited few orphanages that he was pleased with or that he didn't think should be shut down. We were very honored by his comments.
He was also very impressed with Tom's chicken run. He said that he had stolen our ideas and apologized for that. I told him we were always happy for that type of robbery.
I'm not sure if the interview ever aired on the news--we don't get that channel--but it was really nice to get a visit and be recognized for the hard work we do.