Aberdeen’s connection with western part of Zambia

Educating Zambia
Educating Zambia

Aberdeen has a connection to the western part of Zambia. Through that link, you can help the residents of Zambia without going there or spending a cent.
Northern State University professor Teresa Stallings hopes area residents will donate digital cameras and old laptop computers for her to take to the southern African country in May.
The part of Zambia that Stallings visits does not have Internet service. The cameras and computers will be used for education, mostly involving photos and videos. You can’t take pictures on film over there, she says, because there’s no place to get film developed.
She’s not particular about the condition of the equipment.
“It’d be good if the laptops can take a charge,” she said, pointing out that just about any digital camera will be fine.
Stallings, who’s on sabbatical from Northern, leaves for Zambia May 6 and will stay for a month. When she visited Zambia last summer, she left behind 10 cameras, four laptops, a printer and paper.
She has taught teachers and students how to download photos. What the people of Zambia need most, Stallings says, is education. And the used devices from America will help.
When Stallings goes to Zambia, she spends time with Sister Virginia McCall, who once headed the Presentation Sisters’ congregation in Aberdeen. McCall now devotes her time to an economic sustainability project in Kaoma. Another Presentation Sister, Mobridge native Sister Deb Nelson, works in another Zambian community, Kalomo.
Stallings met McCall after the Aberdeen flood of 2007. In working with the Back on Track organization, the two women learned that they “both felt called to Africa,” Stallings said.
This will be Stallings’ fourth trip to Africa. While she’s there, she tutors people in math, teaches adult literacy classes and shares knowledge about the environment. She will load the laptops with literacy and math games.
Global epicenter
But her main concern is the HIV/AIDs problem that plagues portions of Africa, such as Zambia, south of the Sahara Desert. According to a researcher named K.M. De Cock, “southern Africa is now firmly established as the global HIV/AIDs epicenter.”
In the area Stallings visits, about 20 percent of people age 15 to 37 are HIV positive.
McCall arranged for Stallings to work at the Chilombo Basic School near Kaoma. Life is different in Zambia. Some females leave school in the sixth grade, when they have their first menstrual cycle.
Many Zambian women marry older men, because those men have to pay a price for their bride. The money is given to the bride’s family to compensate them for the loss of the labor. To raise that money, the men have to work for a sufficient amount of time. The women who have not had sex fetch a higher bride price, Stallings said. Because the men are older, they often have more sexual experience. In many cases, the men have the HIV virus, which they transmit to their new brides.
“It’s women who bear the burden of HIV/AIDS,” said Stallings, explaining she wants to show them that “life doesn’t need to be like that.”
Most of the people who take Stallings’ adult literacy classes are women. Research shows that the better-educated women tend to marry later and be more selective in choosing a husband, she said. Those women will encourage their daughters to stay in school longer, Stallings said.
Last summer, Stallings used photos and videos to help fifth- and sixth-graders learn more about HIV and AIDs.
She taught the students how to take pictures and how to tell stories with pictures. In one assignment, she asked them to do a video about the stigma of HIV/AIDs. She wants to build an HIV/AIDs curriculum around the videos.
She also wants to improve their overall health picture. She plans to share the knowledge that banana leaves can be used for bandages and lamb’s ears and foxglove — two plants — prevent clotting.
Stallings does not want to be a “cultural imperialist,” telling people to “do it this way.” Instead, she aims to impart knowledge and skills that people can use.
Roughing it
In Zambia, Stallings also works with a Catholic priest, the Rev. Francis Muyunda Wakunguma, who lives in the community of Sitaka.
Sitaka is only about 60 miles from Kaoma, but that trip takes about three hours by car.
“Oh, the roads are beyond belief,” Stallings said.
Because electricity is in short supply, the country does not have consistent refrigeration, she said.
In taking a community emergency response class, Stallings noticed that what’s considered a disaster in this country is everyday life over there. In Zambia, a lot of babies are delivered in mud huts. Nutrition is not good.
Because life is difficult in Africa, one has to be very patient, she said. Nothing is easy. An African expression is “You’ve got the watch, but I’ve got the time.”
From a sociological standpoint, the trips to Zambia appeal to Stallings in that “the behavioral component interests me.” Many modern illnesses — not just the AIDs virus — are the result of human behavior, said Stallings, a native of South Carolina.
Stallings, an associate professor of sociology who has worked at Northern since 1995, also is trying to raise $3,500 to pay for a solar project for Father Francis in Sitaka.
That solar kit, she said, will power a laptop for four hours a day and light two classrooms for four hours.
Stallings is also involved in many charitable activities in Aberdeen, such as bringing her two dogs to nursing homes.
Part of her motivation is spiritual. She also feels she’s obligated to help people.
“I feel to whom much is given, much is expected,” she said.
Help for Zambia
To donate digital cameras and laptop computers, call Teresa Stallings at 605-226-5475 or send an email to [email protected] You may also drop them off at Margaret Artz’s office at the Primrose Independent Living apartment building, 1701 Third Ave. S.E. (directly behind Kmart).
If you want to donate to solar project, contact Stallings or send a check to 911 S. Lloyd St., Aberdeen, SD 57401.

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By Jeff Bahr [email protected]

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