An Interview with Wilbroad & Zicky Chanda: 10 Years of Lighthouse Christian School (Part 2)

By Joanne Burak
Education Zambia
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Zicky and Wilbroad Chanda, founders of Lighthouse Christian School in Ndola, Zambia, recently visited Covenant Mercies’ US offices. In honor of the school’s tenth anniversary, Director of Development Joanne Burak sat down to talk with the Chandas about Lighthouse and the surrounding community.

What does a typical day at Lighthouse look like for a student?

ZC: We start our classes at 7:30 in the morning. Monday and Friday mornings we have assembly. In assembly, each class presents something they have learned. We also have clubs— Drama Club, Cultural Club, Scripture Club, and Art Club— so the Drama Club may also present something, or the Cultural Club will present a dance.

…Monday afternoon we have Reading, Tuesday afternoon we offer Remedial studies, and Wednesday afternoon they have [other] classes. Thursdays and Fridays they [leave] at 12:30pm. Within the week, each grade has a day of physical education.

Congratulations on 100% of last year’s seventh grade class passing their national exams. Tell us a bit about the Zambian education system.

WC: We inherited the British system… So we have primary school from grades 1 to 7… grade 8 and 9 is junior secondary school, 10 to 12 is senior secondary school, then a university or college.

The government is big on English, Science, and Math. Grade 7 national exams are multiple choice but very demanding. You sit for seven subjects. There are two of them that are an aptitude test, like the SATs— critical/analytical thinking.

…This is where we talk about God’s faithfulness. It is impressive for [Lighthouse] to score 100%, given our kids… The kids in the nice residential, high-cost, low-density areas, they are at an advantage. Whether you are from the village or the bush, you must write that exam…

In grade 9, they [Zambian students] have another exam to proceed to grade 10. Many make it to eighth grade, but not so many make it to tenth grade… Then there is an exam in grade 12 which is even tougher, because now you are fighting to get into college or university.  It’s different from here [the USA] where you are in 12th grade this fall, and maybe the next fall you are in college. Even if you get good grades, it takes one to two years before you even go to university.

What is your favorite thing about leading Lighthouse Christian School?

ZC: My favorite part is seeing these children being transformed, not just academically— even spiritually. That is the greatest joy.

We were just talking about 100% [of the seventh grade class] passing [their national exams] last year… I remember when I got the results, I was going through each name and I found out that everyone had qualified to go to grade 8. That was a joy, just to see these kids entering high school.

The pre-schoolers that are coming, most of them don’t know how to speak English. By the end of the year, they are able to say their ABCs, they are able to sing rhymes, they are able to communicate— it is just a joy.

Can you share anything about future construction plans for the school?

ZC: In terms of construction, we are in the third phase for the school…that will become the computer labs, art labs, a library, and we hope for more classrooms.

How can we pray for you and Lighthouse?

ZC: My prayer request has always been for God’s wisdom… there are so many decisions I have to make on a daily basis... So really, my prayer is for God’s wisdom and guidance. I don’t know where Lighthouse will be ten years from now, but God knows— because He is the one who has seen it through up to this moment.

Zicky Chanda is the Director of Lighthouse Christian School and helps to coordinate Covenant Mercies’ Orphan Sponsorship Program in Ndola, Zambia. Wilbroad is the senior pastor of Christ Community Church in Ndola. Together, the Chandas founded Lighthouse Christian School in 2005. Covenant Mercies partnered with the school in 2006, later building a new and expanded campus. Today, Lighthouse serves 250 students in grades pre-K through 7. For more information, visit our Education Projects page.

Missed Part 1 of our interview with Wilbroad and Zicky Chanda? Check it out here

An Interview with Wilbroad & Zicky Chanda: 10 Years of Lighthouse Christian School (Part 1)

By Joanne Burak
Education Zambia
Twitter
Facebook

Zicky and Wilbroad Chanda, founders of Lighthouse Christian School in Ndola, Zambia, recently visited Covenant Mercies’ US offices. In honor of the school’s tenth anniversary, Director of Development Joanne Burak sat down to talk with the Chandas about Lighthouse and the surrounding community.

What led to your desire to establish Lighthouse Christian School?

Zicky Chanda: We lived in Mississippi in 1999. We were there for almost four years. While we were in the US, we would read stories— stories about the street kids back home. We had a passion for caring for these children. We thought, when we get back to Zambia, we will start a school that will care for orphans and vulnerable children. So when we went back in 2003, we started working towards that. Lighthouse was established in January 2005.

I understand that Lighthouse Christian School serves students from both the middle class and slum neighborhoods of Ndola.

ZC: That is one thing we still want to emphasize, because we don’t want the school to be known as an orphanage, or a school for orphans. We want to give those children the same quality education that the others have. There are some kids [Lighthouse students] who are not orphans. Their parents are able to pay for the school fees.

Where these kids are coming from— the [Covenant Mercies] sponsored kids and non-sponsored kids— are totally different. Most of the sponsored kids, they are coming from the slums. And those that have parents and are able to pay for themselves— they are coming from a different neighborhood. It is a benefit for both.

For those children coming from those suburban areas, mixing with those coming from the slums gives them a picture of saying “we are one.” It doesn’t matter where you [live]. One thing I emphasize to the caregivers [child guardians]… it is easy to say “Oh, I am coming from the slums. I can’t match up with that child coming from so-and-so area.” But we encourage them. I usually tell them, “With God, it is all even.” God doesn’t look at us and say “You are coming from ‘this area,’” He just looks at us as the same.

Wilbroad Chanda: In addition, when you have kids coming from the slums… it’s like the caste system in India. When you think of education, the expectation [if you live in a slum neighborhood] is that you go to a school that is downtrodden, that is poor. But if you are coming from that community and attending Lighthouse... it boosts their esteem: Though I come from such a community, I can attend a good school.

Tell us about the Ndola community and the home life of the Lighthouse Christian School students.

WC: The [sponsored] children come from communities that are poverty stricken. At one point, we didn’t have those slums… because of certain socio-economic factors, they are mushrooming. The problem is, if you grow up in that community… the mindset is that this is where I was raised, I will raise my kids and grandchildren here. Lighthouse says no, we can break that cycle, because when these kids have an education, they will transition. Part of the reason why some of them live in that community is because they don’t have a good education, a good job, and good income… Education is the golden key that unlocks or breaks this cycle.

How has Lighthouse changed in the past ten years?

ZC: When we started Lighthouse Christian School, when the doors opened, there were only six students, with one teacher. Just me, and one teacher. Now we have over 250 children, in ten years. When we started, we were renting a house. We paid the rentals, the salary of the teacher, the utilities… it was just from our pockets, just from our incomes. It’s amazing to see where it is now.

When Covenant Mercies came in 2006 and the Sponsorship Program started, the numbers started growing, but we were still renting this house and we didn’t have enough space. The first building construction started in 2009. Today it’s transformed— not just the area where the school is built, it has transformed the lives of the children. We see God’s faithfulness in all of that. Lighthouse is also providing employment for the teachers and those working on the grounds.

WC: There is progress in almost every sphere of school: the number of teachers has increased, management… relationships are growing, the gospel is spreading. Of course, we are still progressing... as Zicky has put it, we are just seeing the hand of God.

Zicky Chanda is the Director of Lighthouse Christian School and helps to coordinate Covenant Mercies’ Orphan Sponsorship Program in Ndola, Zambia. Wilbroad is the senior pastor of Christ Community Church in Ndola. Together, the Chandas founded Lighthouse Christian School in 2005. Covenant Mercies partnered with the school in 2006, later building a new and expanded campus. Today, Lighthouse serves 250 students in grades pre-K through 7. For more information, visit our Education Projects page.

Check out Part 2 of our interview with Wilbroad and Zicky Chanda here.