Knowledge, Empowerment & Relationships

Hello Mom, Dad, Stephen, Tayla and all parents, family members and friends who have continually supported us on this amazing journey! I just want to start out by saying happy late birthday to my father, the infamous Monte Marti. I am so sorry I was not there to celebrate with you but I am sure that you did it in all the right ways. I want you to know that on my slow and interesting trek to Solwezi, I was thinking about how much I love you and how happy I truly am to have such a positive and loving person in my life. Just thinking about you really does make me smile.

Today marks the 16th day of our stay here in Zambezi. It also marks a day of rest and preparation for a very busy weekend ahead. Tonight we are going to a tribal coming of age ceremony involving music and some wild dancing by the Makishi (tribal dancers). On Saturday, we are having a special lunch. We are cooking for forty as each of us invites a member of the Zambezi community with whom we have built personal relationships as we’ve accompanied each other through these past weeks. It is our way of thanking them for all they have given us. I am excited to gather with my peers, who I have so greatly bonded with over these past few weeks, and to see those they have bonded with outside of the Gonzaga group.

This morning, we woke up to no electricity. For one who is teaching computer courses, losing electricity has become one of the most frustrating realities about life here. When the power is out, assuming that all computers are charged, we only have 7 working computers as opposed to the 9 we normally have. Additionally, we lose our projector greatly limiting our teaching methods. In one class alone, we have thirty plus students thus forcing us to put five students per computer. This presents us with great challenges for the majority of our students have never touched or even seen a computer and a good portion of them do not even have power in their own homes. Personally, this lack of electricity presents me with great frustration (not only in personal life but in classes as well).

Many of the struggles and frustrations that I have encountered during my time here in Zambezi have been causes by events and situations that are out of my control i.e. illness in Dipalata, ride to Solwezi and these constant power outages. In the past, I have had the opportunity to participate in service trips not only nationally but internationally as well. These trips helped me feel mentally prepared for the challenges I knew I would face. On these trips, I would build houses and other tangible things. This enabled me to easily see the progress and work that I was doing for the people I was trying to help. I always left patting myself on the back and feeling satisfied. I could easily capture what I was doing on camera and would return home and show people the work that I had done. Being present here in Zambia has presented my peers and I with a very different and harsher reality. The work that our group is doing here is not tangible in the same way as a house or a church. We spread education, build knowledge and try to empower the community to stand on their own two feet. This cannot be physically measured; it is not visible and most definitely cannot be captured by a camera. Our group constantly struggles questions the reality of what we are doing here and if it really making a difference and really changing this area for the better. Josh presented this question to our dinner guest Francis, a social worker who played a key role in the adoption of Josh’s daughter, Grace. He responded that our empathy, willingness to share knowledge and our mere presence of just being here matters.  We are in fact making a difference. It was settling to know that though we may not be building houses, churches, schools or anything as physical, we are in fact making an impact on this community. Though I may not have photos of tangible work that I have done on this trip I will remember the struggles, relationships and the amazing people I have encountered here in Zambia.

This makes me feel excited and empowered. I feel as if I am gaining more out of this experience by sharing knowledge and education than I have in my previous experiences. I am building deep and meaningful relationships with amazing people who are giving me so much more than I am giving them. I have come accustomed to the idea that material and physical things are not always necessary to help those in need. What is needed most is simply knowledge and empowerment. When a community is able to asses its own needs and implement its own projects, the outcome can have a greater impact on those being affected than if the help had come from other sources. This internal empowerment rallies the community and creates a better sense of independence and pride. Whether it is through the leadership, education, health or computer group, our hope is for those we teach to use the knowledge we have shared to better themselves, one another and the community long after our group leaves Zambezi.

Gotta go!

Shaun Marti, Class of 2015

 

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22 Responses to Knowledge, Empowerment & Relationships

  1. Carole Marti says:

    Shaun you saved so many great words for the blog you have authored near the end of your Zambezi journey! It is so great to hear you speak from the heart about your activities and your feelings and your emotions. Ahh yes power outages. We discussed how that would impact your computer teachings before you left for Zambia. Now you have experienced it for real. And you can see how even through adversity, you and your peers are triumphing! And I am so glad you can see that you all truly are making a difference just by being there even though it is not always obvious, different from building the houses in Tijuana where we mixed concrete and poured roofs and made and laid bricks and pounded rebar. Even there, at Esperanza, the human spirit and culture must prevail and change in order for them to have long term benefits, just as in Zambia. Although it sounds like compared to Tijuana, Zambians face even sterner life challenges.

    We are so proud of you and your fellow zags, and that smart cougar that is a part of your group (you can tell her that your parents are just a little on the die hard side for the wsu cougars !). Treasure all of these moments and hold them forever in your heart. You will never forget this time in your life.

    And yes dad has had two birthday celebrations so far with another one before you get back. However you will be here in time for Father’s Day!

    We love you and all of you there! And many thanks to dr Armstrong for his leadership and guidance.

    Love Mia madre

  2. Brady says:

    Quick shoutout:

    Teo, you’ve come up in conversation a lot lately in good company. Know that your presence and “just chilling”ness (and hair, apparently) is greatly missed. Give me a call when you are back in the States por favor. Also, the Swellers “Way Back Home” came on my iTunes today — couldn’t be any more perfect. Good vibes to you and the whole Zam crew. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE follow the TA tradition and show off your dance moves at the Mikishi celebration (you know what you need to do). Make Nolan proud. In recent news in the life of Bread, Kyle and Grant bought two baby ducks (don’t ask me why), Sarah’s new puppy has become the official 6th woman of OCORE, AND Jeb keeps bringing HIS puppy into the CCASL offices…so essentially my life is being controlled by little furry animals and I simply couldn’t be happier. Productiveness may be at an all-time low…or maybe that’s because I’m literally addicted to this blog…ah such is life!

    Jason, I forgot to mention in my last post that I now am expecting sweet, sweet lullabies when we are reunited. In Zambian accents of course. Missing your smile and conversation. Wishing more than anything I could see you dancing and singing with the Zambians!!! Also, your post reminded me of two quotes from Fr. G that I wrote down during East LA that I thought I’d share: “How can I help the wounded if I don’t welcome my own wounds?” Keep living the questions! And the second, “Now. Here. This. Combating fear we have to break out of our ignorance and confront the places that frighten us.”

    Hanna, soak up the goodness in everything around you beautiful girl. You worked so incredibly hard to make this trip a reality and I am so proud of you. I’m anxious to have you back to hear about every detail.

    Hayley, Connor, Lucy, I (finally) finished the ZG newsletter (stole pictures of you from your Facebooks, so did a little bit of creeping today, per usual). I decided today we should go lazertagging as a team or something. Or camping. Or maybe kill a chicken — you know, true bonding experiences. The amount of obsession I hold for each of you is immeasure and ridiculous.

    Josh, you should know Kate keeps posting unbelievably cute pictures of your children on Facebook. World’s most adorable.

    As always, sending love.

    -Brady

    You are all loved perfectly because you perfectly love.

  3. Gail Maxwell says:

    Such words of love!!!! The job you are doing is incredible, and what they are doing for you is even more overwhelming. To all of you kids there, JOB WELL DONE, JOB WELL RECEIVED!!!!! Love you, Shaun, and the tremendous young man that you have become. Auntie Gail P.S. Gramma sends her love!!!

  4. Analise Thornley says:

    Shaun, what a beautiful comment on the relationships you are building, and the challenges you face in Zambezi. As I keep up with your journey I continue to reflect on my own experience last summer, and rereading my journal I found a reflection from David Digg’s “We See From Where We Stand”…

    “If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

    Diggs explains that we are all in need: the rich and the poor. And you summed it up perfectly: “I have come accustomed to the idea that material and physical things are not always necessary to help those in need.” The reciprocal relationship of empowerment that you described makes me smile, the Zambians can be such amazing teachers if you open your mind and your heart.

    I won’t get to talk to you until July :( but we will plan our trip to morocco soon!! I can’t wait!!

    Jason,
    As you are creating bucket lists and savoring final moments in Zambezi, can you remember your first trip to the market feeling like a stranger? Needing a guide to get around? Trying ground nuts for the first time? The first sunset at the Zambezi river? And now I’m sure you know the ins and outs of each alley and the names of the tailors and where to find the best chitange, as well as what time the sun sets. It’s amazing how quickly Zambezi becomes a second home.

    Josh, who is the soccer star without Eli?? Are Kelvin or Brother Terry around to help the Chindeles play the high school in the soccer game?

    Mateo, you better get everyone to take a turn dancing with the Makishi, haha!

    Ally and Megan, have you been working with Mama Winefrida? she is amazing!!

    Love to you all ZamFam 13

    Kisu Mwane,
    Analise

  5. Katie Newman says:

    Megan! I miss you so much!! I hope you are having a great time! I can’t wait until you come back so I can hear all your stories! I have my first soccer practice with my new team tonight! I’m excited! I have almost 2 weeks until graduation! I’m so excited! And I wish you could be hear but I understand! Anyways I wrote a speech for graduation and the teachers choose someone in the class and Inteally hope I get to read mine! Also tonight is my last dance and I miss having you bug me about getting ready! I hope you are having an amazing experience and learning a lot! I can’t wait until you post your story! I’m so jealous of all the stuff you are doing! I love you so much and I hope you are having a great time! Love you with all my heart!
    -Katie

  6. Jean Baker says:

    Been enjoying all your bloggings from the middle of Africa. Your noticing, caring and sharing of yourselves to others is coming through loud and clear.
    I care, You care, We care could certainly make the world around us much simpler.
    I send you many hugs from Granny Jean and looking forward to seeing you soon Hailey B. At 76 I hope see a little bit of Africa. It’s on my list of places to go in 2014.
    Ladies of Gonzaga- on your list of things to do- practice changing a tire or two before you need to. Love from Granny Jean

  7. jan squires says:

    I’m recovering from my surgery here at your house. Your mom has been a wonderful nursemaid, although there are things I am sure she would rather do than take care of me and Starsky!! Really enjoyed your blog and how you shared your accomplishments and frustrations. Remember I am your elderly Oma who grew up with no electricity but we had never heard of computers and such things. I will still be here when you return and am so anxious to see you. Love you and miss you so much. You have become such a caring and giving young man. I am so proud of you, Shaun.

  8. Lynda McCann says:

    Shaun…you are absolutely ALL making a difference, both there in Zambia and around the world! I love that you referenced other trips you’ve experienced and could visibly see the difference you were making on those trips, but the impact your hearts have all made in Zambezi is so huge.That to me is very evidenced in each of your blogs with your beautiful stories and with the responses you are all getting from friends and family. THANK YOU EACH OF YOU AGAIN FOR MAKING THAT DIFFERENCE!
    I wish I could write more but it’s one of “those” days here Katie where I have EVERYONE and was lucky to squeeze in 5 min to read the blog ;) I’m excited for the weekend and we FINALLY have a little sun, after a lot of clouds and rain! Keep taking pictures and soak in the time you have left! I can’t wait for your blog Katie…I love and miss you! (((Hugs))) xoxo

  9. Christian Hoag says:

    Shaun, I really enjoyed reading your post. I can’t even imagine the frustration of not being able to see the immediate results of all the hard work you all are putting into bettering the African community. The other week I had to move a ton of bark, and although it was really hard work, I enjoyed it. When I was talking to my mom about it, I realized I liked spreading bark because it immediately makes the yard look better. If the bark didn’t make the yard look better right away though, I would absolutely hate moving bark. All the hard work for seemingly nothing. I feel like the latter is sort of, in a really weird way, what you guys might be dealing with, and I can sort of imagine how frustrating it might be. But it’s awesome that you guys can still find satisfaction and happiness in what you do there. It’s truly inspiring! Enjoy the rest of your time there in Zambezi!

    Katieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, it’s starting to get to the point where all I can think about is picking you up at the airport… I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited for something before… haha it’s driving me crazy we still have 2 whole weeks!! Oh well, it’ll start to fly by… I hope. I call dibs on first hug by the way :D Anyways, just thought I’d say hi, and tell you I’m thinking about you all the time! I gotta go for a run now though… I don’t want to… Wish you were here to motivate me haha oh well… I love you Katie, be safe, have fun, cherish the rest of your journey!!
    Christian

  10. Amber Siciliano says:

    Shaun,
    I truly enjoyed reading your blog; you had such a beautiful way of sharing your story. I felt like I was going through those frustrations and challenges with you through your writing. I loved how you said that you have become accustomed to the idea that material objects are not always necessary to help those in need. I know I can relate to that idea. Whenever I see someone that looks like they are feeling a little down, I will smile at them even if I don’t know them! I do this because something as simple as a smile could make someone else’s day a little bit better but enough about me!! You wrote beautifully and I am so happy I had the chance to read it and relate!!

    Best friend!!
    It is so weird because part of me feels like you have been gone forever, but then the other part of me feels like your journey has gone by so fast! I can only imagine how it feels for you, but either way I hope you are having the time of your life!! We all miss you back at home but we are all so happy you took this leap of faith and went out of your comfort zone to benefit other people, and to make your dreams come true. I really hope you have seen an elephant at this point and hopefully gotten to ride one (if that was something you wanted to do!) :)

    I miss you soooo much best friend and I honestly cannot wait to see you and hear about all of your stories! I am also still really looking forward to your blog! You have such a way with words when you write; I just know it’s going to be breathtaking! :) Cannot wait to grab my bowl of popcorn and read it ;) I love you Katie!! You are beautiful on the inside and out and missed by so many! I cannot wait till the next post arrives! ;) Have fun bestie!! Xoxoxoxo

  11. Brenda Sutton says:

    Thank you Shaun for another wonderful blog. I am continually awed at the eloquence and sincerity of these posts. You all articulate your stories with such detail and insight that the readers can see and feel Zambia. You are very open to share your introspection when confronting this new culture, the struggles and challenges. Even though you are all young adults, these blogs reveal a very mature thought process and deep reflection. Thanks for allowing us to be a small part of your journey. You are all making an impact and leaving an imprint there in Zambezi.
    Garrett, I’m getting anxious to see you in person and hear all about your trip. Numerous times during the day I stop and wonder what you are doing at that exact moment in Africa. Probably making someone smile or lending a helping hand. I love you and miss you bunches, mom
    PS I am still rooting for “Jerry” to come home with Megan.

  12. Molly Baker says:

    Good Morning!
    Shaun you are making a difference! All of you are making a difference in so many ways! You are all making a difference to me. Reading the thoughtful blogs have made me think about my life, my job, my everyday experience.

    I can’t wait to hear about the coming of age ceremony! I hope you have pictures! I can’t wait to see some of these tribal dance moves!!! Have a wonderful party!

    Hailey B. Miss you like crazy! so proud of you that I could burst!Emma just left for Tanzania and the cabin picnic is on our week-end!!! Invite your Zam Fam!! :)

    Love, Mom

  13. Ann Edens says:

    Hi Hanna, I can’t believe how fast your trip has gone so far. As you know I’m not much of a writer but I do enjoy reading everyone’s post and hearing about their experience. It sounds like each and everyone of you has faced adversity and truimph in different ways. This should only make you stronger as individuals. I can’t wait to see all the pictures you have taken plus hear about the whole trip. Savor your last few days and you last weekend with the Zambian people.

    Love and Hugs from the gang back in Clarkston. Doja sends you kisses too.

    Mom

  14. Monte Marti says:

    Thank you for the birthday wish. It has been a great birthday month and it will continue over the next couple of weekends. It is great to celebrate. It is great to hear about your celebrations.

    Yes, it is great to celebrate and you all should continue to celebrate while you are there. You are all making an impact ~ some where some how. Some times it is hard to see, but you are making a difference. It could be with your students, a person you serve, a person you engage on the street, your fellow comrade, or … The impact may be immediate or it may be something that bears fruit in the future.

    Once again, please be patient ~ but always love, be authentic, engage others, support others, serve others … Please always remember ~ You make me smile! GOD BLESS! Monte

  15. Hikaru says:

    I usually check the site around 9pm my time but today I popped on around 4pm and there were already 9 comments. Darn it, I’m hoping to be #1 one day… :) The McCann’s and Marti’s know what’s up!

    Shaun, I immediately thought of the quote “…people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou. The knowledge you pass on to your class is intangible, but there are so many emotions that students are experiencing just with your presence. As Jason said, your presence is a present. You guys.. these blogs are written so honestly and I look forward to them every night. I seriously love them more than Grey’s Anatomy… Thank you for being vulnerable with the readers and giving us a binocularized view of Zambezi. You. Are. Wonderful. The dinner invites sound so much fun! GAH!

    Josh, booty-bump to you and Raymond Reyes. *thanks. Hope you showed everyone your mOoOoOOoooooves with the Makishi dancer!
    Jason, hope your hula skills served you well… your hips don’t lie! pop-lock-and drop it. Live like a warrior :) Thinking of you daily. I’ve been thinking of all of you daily!
    Mateo, I’m just picturing you with a huge smile sparking teeth, alittle scruff just smiling. Hope that’s the face you show the world today. You light up my world whenever I see that smile across Crosby!

    ZamFam; you are a blessing.

    Love,
    Hikaru

  16. Lori Newman says:

    It is so great to read all the stories in the Blog. Each one makes me want to personally meet the author. Saturday should be fun cooking and entertaining for 40 people. I wonder what you cook and eat? I can’t believe you are almost coming home…well I keep telling myself that…

    I miss ya Megan…I think about you constantly. I am so proud to be your mom. I couldn’t do what you are doing there. I am too big of a wuss…Emotionally and physically….I know you are building relationships with the Zambezi community and your Gonzaga and Cougar friends. It will be hard to say good bye, but you will know them forever.

    We are doing the same old same old routine. Katie is so close to graduation. Not close enough for her. She has a counter on the computer that counts down the minutes, not days until graduation.. Lea still has not had the baby. Sometimes she goes early, so we will let you know. Dad and I are working. We saw Maria and Allyn yesterday, they said to say hi and they are amazed at what you are doing. Charley is getting ready to leave in July and Andy is busy with soccer. Not much going on, but that’s ok too…

    I love ya and hope you are feeling good.

    Hugs and kisses,
    Mom

  17. Andre House says:

    Shaun- What an awesome testiment to true servant leadership! One can’t measure the value of a kind smile, empathy and interest in our fellow mankind. You never know what folks are going through in any given day and it’s amazing how a kind, selfless act can totally make a difference.

    Conner- It’s so great seeing you in the above picture! You look healthy and happy which obviously brings happiness to your family back home! Love you so much and can’t wait to see pictures and hear about all of you and your teams adventures. Mom, Dad and Chad.

  18. Tom Dorsey says:

    Hi Delaney. Looks like all of you are settling in there well. Maybe you wish you could extend your stay till the end of summer? Many inspirational writings. Hope you are all feeling well and stay will. Miss you and looking forward to seeing you soon.
    Dad

  19. Teresa Baldwin says:

    to all of you who are working and serving!

    Shaun, your post was thoughtful and interesting, so nice at painting a picture of what the realities of being somewhere short term can feel like. I join the chorus of voices that are telling you that you all are making an impact, a difference with your presence, with your very selves. Simply being with other people communicates to them that they matter, that they count, that God is interested in them and loves them through you.

    Lucy bear! I miss you so much, my beautiful daughter. I know that you will be lending your Jesuit Center cooking talents to your great big dinner party this weekend, and the experience will be wonderful indeed. I wish we could be there in so many ways. I pray for you daily to hear the voice of God in all things, to be at peace that you are enough to do what has been asked of you, that the team who supports you there has been hand selected. When I look back and consider all of the factors that had to come together for you to go on this trip, I marvel at the hand of God in all of your journeys. The hard work and faith and persistence is blossoming into one amazing adventure, it seems. Cannot wait to hear ALL the details.

    As for home, we are all well. I am a week into my summer teaching practicum in a special education middle school classroom and loving it so so much. I will be teaching a two week drama unit, doing the basics with these wonderful kids. I cant tell you how in love with them I am in just a short time. I am in teacher heaven right now.
    Jolie has several job interviews coming up, Target, Macys and Rosauers. Pray that the right job will work out, the kid needs work and money. Mara is working too, and having coffee dates every other day or so. Dad is getting ready to teach a theater camp the second half of June, and so excited about it. Most of all, we all miss you like crazy. I dream about you and hugging you after so many weeks apart. Kim is traveling with her mom now, but I know she is honored and thrilled that you will be spending time with her when you come back.

    prayers for peace and confidence for all of you, you are much loved!
    Momma Baldwin

  20. Teresa Baldwin says:

    hey lucy, it’s dad. just wanted you to know that mom has been reading us these blogs and she has been responding on both our behalf. I wanted to write in my own voice that we are proud of you and have been praying that everything has been going well for you. We love you!! Dad

  21. Beverly Ruhl says:

    Good Morning Megan,

    As I read all the blogs I realize the importance of positiveness you all are showing and offering to your new friends. One step forward is so important to show the Zambezi families. With that step I know they will be able to help there community go forward. I have always wanted to do what you are doing. Life is helping others and showing love in many ways. You have all showed that. As you dance and feast this week end enjoy every minute. We love you and are anxious to visit and hear all the stories you will have to tell. Life is what is in our heart in this moment. Make all the moments you have left a memory for a life time. Love you. Grandma and Grandpa

  22. Cynthia Marti says:

    Hi Shaun I Loved your blog what a great young man you have become.I am so pround of you and the other students that are with you.You are making difference.Love You Auntie Cyn

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