Dr. Paul Moyo and Dr. Nolipher Moyo, pictured here with their daughter, Natasha, and Pat Robertson, are the founders and chairpersons of the school board of the Mango Grove Community School.
Dr. Nolipher Moyo was raised in a rural village. Her daily routine was to walk 5 kilometers to carry water, then walk to chop firewood, carry it home, then cook breakfast - all before she walked to school. When she returned from school, she repeated this routine - going for water, chopping firewood, cooking dinner. When she finished it was very dark. She was so tired. She would sleep for two or three hours, and wake up, light her wick that was wound into a small tin can with kerosene, and begin to do her studying for school. "I could not do without water, firewood or food, but I could do without sleep in order to study. I was determined not to spend my life in this terrible routine. I was absolutely committed to study and become a teacher. Only about 2-3% of the pupils who go through 12th grade were able to pass the national exams to get their diplomas - that was my goal. I achieved it. Then I worked my way through college, and became a teacher."
Dr. Nolipher Moyo was a teacher for many years in the public school system in the Chamba Valley. She noticed that some children would come to school from Grippis Farm, but they never stayed - they always dropped out. She decided that she and her husband should go take a look at this community and was very saddened by what she saw. Not one child had ever gone past 7th grade. The young people were married and having children one after another. Then one day she was walking along the road to her home when a young man lying drunk at the side of the road called out to her, "Mrs. Moyo, you were my first grade teacher! You were a good teacher. You did a good job! I am now a father of four." She was horrified - "How do you feed your children when you are lying drunk by the road? No, my son, I was not a good teacher. I have failed you." This was the defining moment when she and her husband began to intercede for the children of Grippis Farm, crying out for God to make a way forward for them.
After a few years of praying earnestly, they encouraged their daughters and another couple they were like parents to to begin to educate the children of Grippis. This small band of young Christians went through the community trying to convince parents to send their children to "school" under the mango tree. The parents resisted. They had been taken advantage of before under the guise of someone starting a school. Only a few children came. Day by day the little group of determined Christians made their way through the negative environment of the village to the mango tree where they taught the children to write their letters in the dirt with a stick. With no books, no pens, no paper, they persisted against all odds to raise up the children of the village. God had planted a vision in them of what these children could be - doctors, lawyers, pilots and teachers.
When the rainy season came, the 70 children meeting under the tree had no protection from the drenching rains. The Moyos purchased a small plot of land in the village on which they hoped to build a school. It was then that God sent a man from the international church in nearby Lusaka to be a voice for their needs to his congregation. Soon they put up three mud brick classrooms. By 2007 God brought the Brennemans into the village, and from that one visit, Grassroots Heroes International was born. Now there are over 260 children in the school with 8 certified teachers. The classes have desks, the children have books, pens, paper and the teachers have teaching materials and chalk boards. There is a new concrete block school room rising up which will be a more permanent home for the Mango Grove Community School. Without the faith and obedience of the Moyos, the children of Grippis Farm would still be living in hopelessness. But now they have a bright future and the hopes of becoming contributing members of Zambian society.
Dr. Paul was orphaned as a child, and as the oldest male child took on the responsibility for his 6 siblings. He was so focused on getting an education. He succeeded, and is now a professor at the Justo Mwale Seminary in Lusaka, Dr. Nolipher Moyo is a professor at the University of Zambia. They continue their leadership of the Mango Grove Community School, and are grateful for all that God has done to bless their humble beginnings as the parents of God's mission in Grippis Farm.
Musa teaches the reception class at Grippis, also known as grade 0. She was the first child in her family of 10 children to complete school. When she was in the 10th grade, she came to Lusaka. There she finished 12th grade (high school) and after graduating also completed her preschool training. Before coming to work at Grippis Community School she worked at two other schools, one of which was a school that she herself started and single-handedly taught grades 0, 1, and 2. It was during this time of teaching that she had her daughter, Norah. The father of this child mistreated her often and would not allow her to work anymore. After divorcing him and coming back to Lusaka, someone asked her to apply at Grippis Mango Grove School, where she has taught for the past one and a half years. Musa says that she really enjoys her work as a teacher. Even though sometimes it can be hard teaching under such difficult circumstances (like last year, for example, when she had 60 children in her class alone.) She loves the children and feels that she is working for God. Musa has the heart of an encourager and genuinely wants to make a difference in the Grippis community. She says that she "doesn't want someone to have to go through what she has." She is a powerful role model to the girls - passionately telling her own life story of determination and struggle to put herself through school. "You have to decide way down deep inside of you what you want to do with your life. If you sincerely desire an education, you will make it happen. That is what it will take - for you to want it bad enough to sacrifice and work hard and make it happen. That is what I did, and I know that you can do it to. No matter how difficult your circumstances. You can do it. Musa is a powerful prayer warrior for her students and their families. She also leads the worship singing at the school where her voice rings out loud and strong as she dances for joy for the God whom she loves and serves.
Evelyn teaches 1st grade at Grippis Community School. After graduating high school and going through her preschool training, she taught 3rd grade at a private school. A friend asked her to apply for a teaching position at Grippis because she knew she has a heart for children. Evelyn is a widow and has four children of her own, two sets of twins. Because she is a mother, and because her husband died recently, she has really discovered her heart for children that are vulnerable and that are orphaned. Evelyn says that she really wants the students to understand the importance of education. She enjoys teaching because even if some of the children do not always understand, she knows that they really want to learn. Their passion for learning is what keeps her going!
Monica is the 2nd grade teacher at Grippis. When she was one year of age, her father died and her mother sent her to Casisi Orphanage in Lusaka, where she grew up and went to school. After grade nine, she began to get frustrated and discouraged, thinking it was too difficult for her to finish her education, so she took a break from going to school. It was during this time of rebellion for her that she became pregnant, and ended up marrying the child's father. Monica again became determined to finish her education, so her husband paid for her to finish high school by taking night classes. Her marriage fell apart after she walked in on her husband having an affair on the same day that she came home from her older sister's funeral. She then divorced her husband and found a place to stay with a friend's grandfather. She worked as a maid for this man, and with the money she earned, along with the money she had from selling the items her older sister had left her, she was able to pay her way through college.
After graduating college and completing her preschool training she began working at a private school for three months, but the school was corrupt and refused to compensate her for her work. She applied to teach at other schools, but was never hired. She would cry every night, crying out to God for a job, and not understanding why he was not answering her cries. It was during this time that she began to have dreams about teaching in a school with impoverished children and mango trees. She saw a poster on her way home from town one day that was a wanted advertisement for teachers at Grippis Community School. After she was hired, and came to Grippis for her first day of teaching, she realized that this was the place in her dreams! It is because of this that she believes her job here is a calling from God and she knows that he has a reason for bringing her to Grippis. Monica has taught at Grippis for the past seven months and walks over an hour, one way, each day to get to the school. She says that "even though it's not easy, compared to what I've been through, everything here [at Grippis] is okay!"
Voster teaches third grade three at Grippis Community School. He supported himself through his high school and college education, but has not managed to receive his teaching certificate, due to a lack of funds. Before coming to teach at Grippis, he worked at GHI's Heroes Farm, helping to run the chicken project. His sister Irene suggested that heapply for a teaching position at Grippis. He has been teaching at Grippis Community School for the past two and a half years. Voster says that he loves everything about teaching at Grippis, especially the children. During his spare time, he has been meeting with children that cannot read and write so that they will be able to better understand. Although this has been a challenge, he knows that he has a passion and a love for these kids!
Judith Newa Lengwe
Judith teaches grade four here at the community school in Grippis compound. Judy's father died when she was eight years old. Because her mother was widowed and uneducated, it was hard for her to support her ten children through school. She decided to divide their small house into two sides, and rent out one side, so that she would have a form of income to pay for her children's school fees. Judy said that there were times when her family only had one pair of shoes, so she would attend school in the morning session and then bring the shoes home for one of her sisters to walk to school for the afternoon session. She is so thankful for such a loving mother who was so dedicated to helping her have the means to be able to attend school. Judy has been a teacher for six years, the last one year and three months at Grippis. Before coming to teach at Grippis, she worked at a private school, until she and her husband became pregnant with their third child. She came to Grippis because of her love for underprivileged children. She says, "If there are people who cannot read and write, who am I not to share my service?" She finds great joy in seeing her students' hunger for learning, and watching them enjoy their education.
Wisdom is the 5th grade teacher at Grippis Community School. He supported himself through high school and college by working multiple jobs, on a farm and selling things at the local market. After school would close for the evening, most of his friends would go home to study, but he would go straight to work. When he finally came home, it was already dark, so he would go outside, collecting and chopping down firewood, until he had enough to make a fire that would give him enough light to read by. He had to wake up very early in the morning, around 5am, in order to make it to school on time because he had to walk over two hours to reach his school. In secondary school (or high school) he discovered his passion for teaching. In September of 2010, he came to teach and help the community of Grippis. His goal for the children is to make them responsible members of society.
Joshua Matthews Funsani
Joshua is currently the grade six teacher and headmaster at Grippis, but will be moving later this fall to teach for the Ministry of Education in the town of Chongwey. He said, "If I die today and haven't put my knowledge in someone, I have done nothing. In Matthew 28 God has called us to go out and make disciples, so I teach to accomplish what God wants." Joshua has been a tremendous blessing not only to the students at Grippis, but to the families and compound as a whole. He will be greatly missed!
Esther is the 7th grade teacher at Grippis School. She said that by God's grace, the money was always found for her to go to school; she had different sponsors throughout her years of education. Right after she completed college, Esther applied for a teaching position at Grippis. She said that "teaching here is a blessing and a challenge at the same time." It has been a challenge for her that so many of the children have a hard time speaking and understanding English, causing translation to be essential to their learning. Although it is not an easy job, Esther really enjoys teaching and sees it not only as a career, but as a calling. She says she often feels a connection to God when she is teaching in her 7th grade classroom at Grippis.