Mark Burke entered the Volunteer Service Organization (England's version of the US Peace Corps) after a tumultuous breakup with a girlfriend left him feeling skeptical and depressed. "Glimmers of Hope: Memoir of a Volunteer in Zambia" is about Mark's experiences in Zambia from October 2004 through December 2006.
Mark starts off with the training he received with the VSO before he went to his assigned school to teach. Mark states he received about 3 days of training whereas his counterparts received about a week. He laments in his memoir that he wished he had learned the local language. He feels he would have better understood the people of Zambia. In contrast, US Peace Corps Volunteers receive three months of language and cultural training before reporting to their assignments.
Mark's memoir is a excellent account of his time in Zambia including his frustrations with the culture of corruption and hypocrisy. He details teaching in Zambia, his interactions with the Zambian teachers and other Zambians, the harrowing trips into town for supplies, the encounters with large snakes, along with the experience of being in an African country during an election. Mark does tend to be pessimistic about life in general in his book, but a lot of volunteers do end their service with this attitude.
I really enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it for people who are considering any type of volunteer or missionary work in Africa. Reading this book will give the reader a realistic idea of just what their service in Africa may be like.
My only criticism of this book is the lack of formatting. Mark has self published this book so there are formatting issues. Some of these have been addressed in the second edition, however.
Glimmers of Hope: Memoir of a Volunteer in Zambia is available at Amazon.com.
A review copy of "Glimmers of Hope" was provided by the author free of charge.