In the summer of 2013, Joey Stahl had an opportunity to join his friend Briana Fiegen on a mission trip to Kalomo, Zambia, Africa. “Briana already had an invitation through the Presentation Sisters of Presentation College in Aberdeen, and she extended the invitation to me,” said Stahl about the opportunity. While in Kalomo, Fiegen and Stahl helped the Presentation Sisters with education and their Home-Based Care (HBC) program.
Stahl shared his experience with the Community Christian Youth Group (CCYG), explaining that with the encouragement of his parents and grandmother, he joined Fiegen, leaving the United States for Zambia on July 14, 2013. “After a few long international flights, we landed Lusaka, Zambia,” said Stahl.
After staying the night in Zambia’s capital they took a four-hour bus ride south to the village of Kalomo where they would spend the remainder of the trip. Kalomo is home to roughly 9,000 people. Stahl says he found it interesting to have some of his assumptions overturned. “They had TVs with news and movie channels. Some of the most primitive huts had a satellite dish (whether it worked or not is unknown to me). There were also air conditioning units. However, it was winter in the Southern Hemisphere so their use was not necessary because it got quite cool at night.”
Upon their arrival in Kalomo, Maire NiScanail, a teacher from Ireland, who was making her third trip to Zambia, joined them. “She and some of her students had visited the sisters the previous summer.”
The group spent some time at the Mwaata Day Secondary School (grades 9-12) one of many schools in Kalomo, which is partnered with NiScanail’s school in Ireland. Some students from Mwaata have a two-hour journey to school, walking there in the dark and then walking home in the dark. On these routes female students have a risk of encountering predators, so NiScanail’s students had been raising money to help the school start the construction of a hostel. This hostel would be a dormitory where these female students could stay to avoid this risk. Fiegen and Stahl also saw the building of the foundation for new classrooms. “When they have the money, they buy the materials and build what they can. They were doing some pretty heavy construction by hand.”
“The mission of the school was ‘to provide learners with a conducive learning environment through the provision of adequate learning facilities and materials that will help them develop skills knowledge and competencies necessary for meaningful contribution to society’.” The some 1200 students in the school were divided into two sections with half attending in the morning, the other half in the afternoon. “Briana teaches math in Wagner, so she tutored some students after school. She had eleven students who attended school all day and then stayed for tutoring in the evening.”
Stahl helped on the farm the Presentation Sisters own in Kalomo. “The farm had dairy cattle and a piggery, and the proceeds from the farm went toward their HBC program.” While he was helping, he spent time going on maize-bran runs. “We had to run to get feed often. There was a drought that summer so they couldn’t stock pile the feed because the suppliers just didn’t have it. The sisters would make agreements and pay for bags in advance. They would eventually get what they’d been promised.”
Through the HBC program, people of Kalomo are provided medications and vitamins weekly, as well as food once a month. There are numerous HBC sessions held throughout the week. Stahl was able to see firsthand how a volunteer project he had helped with was benefitting people of Kalomo. “While preparing one day for an HBC session, I opened up a cargo container the sisters had for storage, and it was about half full of ‘Kids Against Hunger’ boxes. When I was a student at Mount Marty, our Student Government Association organized a volunteer project with the Yankton community to help assemble and box meal packets for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. Of course these weren’t the same meals we packaged, but that really hit me, to see those ‘Kids Against Hunger’ packets where they were needed.”
When their work was completed, Stahl and Fiegen spent a few days in Livingstone, Zambia where they went on a photographic safari and visited Victoria Falls before returning to the United States on August 8, 2013.
Stahl rejoined the Rausch Construction crew when he got home. He has worked for Rausch for almost a year, with a long term goal of working for the Division of Criminal Investigation in Pierre.