ACADEMIC INTEGRATION COMPETITIVE EXCELLENCE

IN DIVISION I ATHLETICS

 

Serving Zambia: Caroline Davis Reflects on her Experience in Zambia

Photo courtesy of Caroline Davis ’12.

Blog by Caroline Davis ’12

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For several years now, my brother, Peter, and I have been collecting, restringing and sending tennis racquets and clothing to Lusaka, Zambia, to help one of our longtime coaches, Teza Simunyola, who was teaching tennis to kids in his native Zambia. We soon enlisted the help of other junior and collegiate tennis players to expand our efforts. Hundreds of racquets, cases of clothing, and thousands of balls later, what started out as Teza teaching just forty kids has grown into a program of close to 500 participants.

Last year we decided to do more than just send equipment to help out. “Serving Zambia” was born. “Serving Zambia’s” mission is to help young Zambia by mentoring children in the country through tennis.  Our goal is to provide the kids with the stability and structure that is often missing from their lives.

In the past six months, I’ve gone to Zambia twice. In August, I went with Peter, and Mac McAnulty, a member of the men’s team at Harvard, to get a sense of what the situation was in Lusaka and what needed to be done. I just returned from my second trip. This time, I went with Coleman Crutchfield, who plays for Princeton, and has been involved in the project for several years.

It was gratifying to see that what we are doing is working - not only are the kids coming back, but they are also rapidly improving. Their love for tennis and desire to play is like nothing I’ve ever seen. More importantly, the real goal of “Serving Zambia” is working. The kids are staying in school and out of trouble. They are having fun and they have something to do and something to look forward to.

Coleman, Peter and I plan to return to Zambia this summer, along with other students from Brown, Princeton and Michigan to run a program six days a week when the kids are on school break. We hope that other college students will become involved so “Serving Zambia” will benefit from new members and new ideas every year.

We are raising money to build four tennis courts and a small clubhouse within walking distance of one of the “compounds” (shantytowns) where most of the kids and some of the coaches live. A permanent facility will improve the effectiveness of the program and help to ensure that the kids remain in school, focused, and on the “right” track. Sending tennis racquets, clothing, shoes and other equipment helps and many people have generously contributed to that effort, but it’s just a start. We need all the help we can get.

For more information regarding “Serving Zambia”, please contact Caroline at servingzambia@gmail.com.