Chitengas, Dancing and Goodbyes.
Posted by adminweb / in The Book Bus /
So I’m sitting here on the veranda at Grubby’s and looking at the patch where until Saturday the Bookbus tents were pitched, now there is just my tent standing, looking very lonely! The project has finally come to end for the 2009 season and it is a very sad feeling.
The last week at the schools has been fantastic. Sarah, a former volunteer back in England, had produced a collage poster made of photos for each school and sent them out here with one of the final volunteers, so we had that to deliver to everyday along with donations of some story books. The posters were instant hits and a great way to keep a visual record of the partnerships built between the teachers, pupils and ourselves over the course of the past 6 months. The children loved trying to spot themselves and the teachers were amazed with the actual poster, you can’t make anything like that here in Livingstone.
Without exception we have been asked to stay and keep coming with our supply of storybooks, art materials and yellow clad, ever willing volunteers. Making glitter covered crowns was the activity in vogue this week and when one group was seen doing so everyone else was demanding theirs!
Particularly moving was the thank you we got from the teachers at Libala. They summoned us to the headmistress’s office and proceeded to give us all a gift of a chitenga (traditional skirt fabric) decorated with the Zambian flag. We then all had to wear them whilst signing and dancing around the office. It was such an unexpected gesture and really touched us all.
At Cowboy Cliffs we were treated to a traditional dancing show put on by the kids. It was really cute and they may be only 4 or 5 but they really know how to move their bodies! They loved their poster and I gave the 3 teachers there a chitenga each because a few weeks ago they saw me cutting up some fabric to make a collage and they were so disappointed that it was making a picture instead of making them a skirt, I decided to surprise them and it worked!
We visited the orphanage twice this week and the children there are so disappointed that we won’t be going anymore, they have really come to love the time when the M’zungos arrive with the storybooks and glitter! We received a donation to buy the orphanage their own art supplies and on Friday we delivered the big crate to huge interest! The sisters running the home asked me to go and conduct a workshop for the mothers working there to show them how to best utilise the books and materials they now have access to. I did that this morning and it was so inspiring to see that they really want to continue the work we began.
So during the last week we made one more visit to the Royal Livingstone for cakes and cocktails and one more visit to the Zambian restaurant for a final helping of nshima! And we spent time packing all the books and materials into boxes so they can be stored until next year.
The last 6 months have been a real eye opening experience. Zambia is an amazing country, clean, safe and full of the friendliest people I have ever met. The schools are under equipped and the teachers over stretched but the children are enthusiastic and so keen to learn that all the small frustrations related to running a project in Africa are forgotten within seconds. Learning to live by Zambian time (basically everything is late or delayed!!) was a challenge at first but now my body clock is fully adjusted and I’m on Zambian time too! I have immensely enjoyed my time with the Bookbus and I believe that everyone who has had anything to do with the project would agree with me that it is a fantastic and rewarding program which should continue benefiting the children of Zambia for many years to come.