The second two weeks of holiday club have been just as fun and rewarding as the first two. For the third week we visited Zweilopili Centre of Excellence. This is not exactly a school but a centre where children can come and learn for free, they can get tutition or do revision. It also caters for those who have dropped out of school for getting pregnant. We first started coming here last August holidays and it continues to be a big favourite amongst volunteers. It has grown from a couple of grass classrooms to 3 grass and 2 mud and straw classrooms, in that year. (Thanks Bookbus volunteers!!) It is the determination of its founder and the dedication of the volunteer staff that makes it such an inspiring place to come.
We began the week with about 100 kids and ended with 200! I don’t think that any of the volunteers want to see another lion masks, spirally snake or crown again for a very long time!! 180 crowns…that must be some kind of record! The chaos was always present but in a “sort of organised” way. Lots of kids would make something in the first session, run home, take off their name tag, leave their creation and run back and try to be selected for the third session by claiming they only just arrived!! It’s amazing the motivation some paper, crayons, scissors, glue and wool can have!!
The older kids read, did maps of Africa, made books about themselves, wrote stories and hung out on the truck, really using it as a library….which is great to see. The children here live in one of the poorest compounds of Livingstone. Most houses have no water or electric and they are crammed together in small narrow streets, so unlike the children from last weeks school in the village there is much more malnourishment and illness evident here. There is a Zambian saying that you never go hungry in the village and it seems to be true. They may not have water or electric either but they have plenty of land for farming or keeping hens and goats. They don’t live in such close proximity so disease doesn’t spread and sanitation seems to be better, probably simply because toilets are further from living and eating areas. So living in town isn’t always beneficial.
Talking to the teachers and children we realised that many of the children had never been to the falls and this despite living only 10km away. We decided to plan an outing for 35 of the children, funded by a volunteer who left a donation and told me to do something “fun and exciting” for some kids. So on Tuesday 35 pupils aged between 7 and 17, 5 teachers and 4 Book bus volunteers set off on a trip to the falls! It all started very Zambian with the bus being 1 hour late for picking us up, but hey ho Zambian Time is what you live by when you live in Zambia and anyway it gave Claire and me time to have our hair done!!!
Firstly we went up river and the children just jumped straight in…I’ve never seen children so happy to be near water. They were laughing and splashing and genuinely having the best time. This is understandable when you think how precisous a commodity water is and they have to pump and carry every drop they use. Some just stripped off to their underwear, others went in fully clothed. There wasn’t a towel to be seen but nobody cared, they just dried off and we walked to see the falls. Some were scared, some impressed, others speechless when they finally saw the Mighty Mosi O Tunya and the walk across the knife edge bridge was certainly memorable for them all! Finally we took a photo of each of them in front of the falls with a huge rainbow and these we will print out and give to them as a souvenir of this fantastic day!
This fourth week of holidays we have been going to Lubasi home. This has been perfect with there being just four of us on board. The atmosphere is calm and relaxed, completely different from the past 3 weeks. The children here are used to Bookbus and always welcome us with open arms and big smiles! They cant wait to see what’s in the red bags. It’s nice to see how the children have grown over the 2 years I have been visiting. There is another home on town, called Lushomo, which is run for sexually abused girls. The 12 girls have been joining us all this week and it’s been really great to get to know them as well, they have become more open as the week has gone on. All the children have their own personalities and characters and they all know what they like to do. Some it’s just reading, others drawing, some like to chat and ask questions and the young girls?… they like anything pink and shiny!! It’s been another great week with the kids at Lubasi!