Celebrating Christmas in Africa

December 23, 2014
Celebrating Christmas in Africa

Celebrating Christmas in Africa

When you think about Christmas, what first comes to mind? Some common thoughts may be family, friends, food, gifts, or celebrations. If you asked me a year ago, I would have said exactly the same thing. However, my Christmas last year changed my outlook quite a bit. Thanks to a last minute turn of events, I had the opportunity to travel to Livingstone, Zambia in December 2013 and celebrate Christmas in Africa!

Before arriving in Livingstone, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was prepared to be challenged. Through African Impact, a volunteer program, I knew I would be teaching children and working on community development.

With no prior teaching experience, my position at Holiday Club, a school that takes place while the teachers are off from work, was very challenging for me.  My class typically had around 75 students who were a wide variety of ages–anywhere from babies to 14-year-olds. Thankfully, there were multiple volunteers in each classroom to help control the chaos. Classes were held in a run-down building with dusty floors and broken windows. Many of my students came to school in their pajamas, and we were lucky if we had a class of fully clothed children.

Above all, Christmas is not only a time to be grateful for all that we have, but also to give back to those who do not have as much.

I loved teaching my students, but I was saddened by their rough living conditions. Although there was nothing we could do to immediately change the poverty in the country, we could give them a wonderful treat for Christmas.

One day at Holiday Club, Santa came to visit the kids. They were ecstatic, and unable to contain their excitement as they waited in line to sit on Santa’s lap and get a piece of candy! It was an incredible experience to give my students the opportunity to be kids for a few hours.

santa in zambia

Despite the challenges I faced in Zambia, I loved spending Christmas in Africa. The volunteers took part in a simple celebration, with homemade paper decorations and a cookout. We also participated in a small Secret Santa gift exchange to make us feel more at home.

Volunteering during the holiday season shed light on the importance of Christmas. I appreciated being able to teach at the Holiday Club, share my knowledge and play a role in offering a safe and educational place for the children. They were all so eager to learn and excited to write, draw, and do arts and crafts. It was amazing to be able to give them some extra joy.

This December, I see Christmas through different eyes. I cherish the time I get to spend with my family even more than before and appreciate the great food and the warm house in which we celebrate. Above all, Christmas is not only a time to be grateful for all that we have, but also to give back to those who do not have as much. I will especially be thinking of the Zambian community this year, and encourage you to find your own way to give back this Christmas.

Celebrating Christmas in Africa

Marissa Sutera in Zambia


About Marissa Sutera

Marissa SuteraMarissa Sutera is a travel writer at Little Things Travel Blog where she highlights the importance of appreciating life’s simple pleasures. She works in the field of education abroad and is a strong believer in the power travel as a learning tool. Marissa is currently based in Boulder, Colorado where she enjoys running, hiking, and seeking out new adventures.  Follow her on Twitter @marissa_sutera.

One thought on “Celebrating Christmas in Africa

  1. Avatar
    Jimmy Sutera
    December 29, 2014

    Good Job!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *