Mufwe. Part A. Potholes, waving & munching hippos! - Venture Co WorldwideVenture Co Worldwide Mufwe. Part A. Potholes, waving & munching hippos! - Venture Co Worldwide

Blog: Mufwe. Part A. Potholes, waving & munching hippos!

24

Oct 2010

Mufwe. Part A. Potholes, waving & munching hippos!

Posted by / in The Book Bus /

So the Bookbus is on the road on the way to Blantyre in Southern Malawi but en route we will be spending a week in South Luangwa national park in Zambia and a week on the shores on Lake Malawi working with schools along the way and culminating in the Lake of Stars festival which we hope to participate in, in some way.

I anticipate thousands of kilometres on roads in varying states of disrepair, hundreds of Zambian and Malawian children waving wherever we go, Cries of M’zungo echoing through the air, rising temperatures and new adventures everyday…..Let’s see what happens!!

Week 1 – PART A!!

Livingstone to Lusaka to Chipata to Mfuwe! – Zambia!!

The journey was long and very tiring and took 3 days, the torturous bit being the 125km between Chipate and Mfuwe, the gateway to South Luangwa, which took 6…yes 6…hours!! Top speed was 25kmph and we still managed to dislodge all the books from the shelves and some volunteers from their seats! Potholes are an understatement but we were greeted with smiles and waves all the way which buoyed spirits. The newly painted truck was getting a great reception, mostly open jawed amazement followed by frantic waving! Just a note for anyone thinking of joining the Bookbus next year, ability and commitment to wave is certainly a prerequisite!!

But when we finally arrived at our new home, Croc Valley camp, we were wowed by our riverside setting. We, immediately, were warned, by the owner, of the dangers of living in a real life African Safari park and true to warning, that night we encountered hippos munching grass around our tents and even leaving trails of hippo slime on our canvas!! Other nights we had elephants wandering through camp and a giraffe eating leaves right by the bar. One afternoon we could even see lions just across the river!! Amazing!

But there wasn’t much time to admire our natural abode, we were off to school that very afternoon. We visited Uboya Community School (Uboya is Nyanja for paddling!) just a few km from our camp. We were greeted by the middle grades who attend school in the afternoon and the teachers who were eager to see what we were up to! This school is only up to grade 6, as to qualify for grade 7 you have to have a classroom with a secure lockable office attached in which to store the exam papers. This has just been built and Geoffrey, the acting head, told me in 2011 they will be able to offer grade 7 and they expect a huge turnout because many of the children in this area just drop out after grade 6 and are just waiting for the chance to sit their exams! The school has only 3 other classrooms, one of which has no roof! The teachers here are a mixture of paid government workers and volunteers, something which is becoming more common in Zambia and is leading to some ill feeling, especially as sometimes it is the volunteers who seem to have more passion and commitment.

We decided to treat the afternoon as one large group session and we read some large books to the giant circle of eager faces. Gerald the giraffe got his first of many outings on this trip as did the old crowd pleaser, “We’re going on a bearhunt!” We sang some songs including “Down in the jungle”, the banana song and “I said a boom!” Thanks to all previous volunteers who have stocked my mind with such useful clutter!! After donating some books and chatting with the kids and teachers we returned to croc valley to put up our tents and prepare for the days ahead!

Tuesday took us to Victory Community Preschool. Here 106 children attend preschool lessons in a med and straw classroom built by a local pastor, James, who founded the school. He has one teacher, Emma, and between them they give these Zambian children a head start on the ladder of Education. Pre schools are usually only for children whose parents can afford the fees and then consequently those who start grade 1 without any form of education or exposure to English before the age of 7 are at a serious disadvantage. James knew this and wanted to do something to help the children of his community. The pupils are fanatsic and know more songs than even my ipod contains!!! There is even a song about drinking a coke, with the necessary sound effects! All the volunteers and I had a great morning at Victory, reading, playing, singing and drawing with the kids!

In the afternoon we hired a driver and vehicle to take us to Chipembele education centre. This is a project set up by a couple from the UK. It aims to teach local children about the importance of living in harmony with nature. It is an amazing project and so well thought out and run by Anna and Steve. Anna is the lady who helped me source the schools for this week of the project. And it is the Chipembele(which is Nyanja for Rhino) trust which pays for Emma at Victory. The site is 1 hour drive into the bush and gets completely cut off by road in the rainy season. On the journey we saw herds of elephants and some giraffes! We were made so welcome and Steve then took us on a walk across the river bed to get a very close up view of a pod of hippos..some of us were a little reluctant wading through the small streams still winding there way over the dry bed, as at the back of our mind was the thought of crocs..but we were assured we were fine and we took the plunge even with that nagging doubt!! No one was eaten and we returned to camp to hang out with our own nocturnal munching hippos!!

Continued on next blog!

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