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Blog: Mufwe. Part B. Lions, Libraries & Hippo Sausages


Oct 2010

Mufwe. Part B. Lions, Libraries & Hippo Sausages

Posted by / in The Book Bus /

Week 1 – PART B!

Wednesday we drove to Kakumbi Basic School, our first government school in the area. The drive we were told was 4km was actually 12km down a very narrow, pot holed track, it told nearly 1 hour!! Lots of locals kept stopping us and were amazed that we were attempting to do this, but despite these warnings and hundreds of overhanging trees whose branches threatened to knock our heads off while we sat in the back of the truck, we managed to arrive at the school, thanks to our excellent driver Douglas!

Kakumbi has 400 pupils and teaches grades 1 to 7. We had a great morning with the kids from the top three grades, teaching as usual in our small groups on reed mats under the mango trees. The headteacher was very impressed by our methods of teaching and how engaged the pupils were. She was extremely surprised to find that many of our volunteers came form different backgrounds than teaching and that the age range was so varied! The kids were so enthralled with our books and other resources, many of them hadn’t ever had access to such supplies before.

Wednesday was Alice’s, one of the volunteers, birthday, so we decided to organise our evening game drive for that day. We set out at 4pm and stayed out until 8pm. It was amazing the amount of wildlife that we saw. The highlight for everyone was the lions. We saw a male and some females, sleeping on the riverbank not far from the carcass of a buffalo that had just killed, which was now being picked over by the vultures. We also saw herds of elephants, buffalos, giraffes, warthogs, hippos, lots of birds and a porcupine. Then right at the end in the dark we saw a lioness, only metres from the car. When all the lights were turned off, we all sat there in silence, not sure where she was and not feeling too safe in our open vehicle..but then with the red night light we saw her laying down just in front of us, totally unaware of the feeling of amazement she was creating among this group of humans! When we got back to camp we had organised to have dinner at the restaurant. Alice had ordered ‘hippo sausages’ and what came was a bowl of just that and nothing else!! Certainly a birthday to remember!

Thursday took us to Chiwawatala basic school, just on the tarmac road, so no perilous journey today. This school is grades 1 to 8 with 600 pupils and has one of the most forward thinking and progressive headteachers that I have ever met. Mr Zulu was interested in our program and its aims and objectives. He was keen to meet all the volunteers and to observe the way we interacted with his pupils. I ended up with my own small school lesson with a group of random kids that took place on the steps of the truck. We talked about geography, music and looked at every page in our WOW picture encyclopaedia. It was a real pleasure spending time here. Chiwawatala also has the best school library I have encountered in Zambia. It has a full time librarian, Patience, who also joined in with our lessons. She was a former pupil of the school and was keen to hear about how we use libraries in the UK. The library was set up in memory of a British girl, Carly Pinder, by her family after her tragic death. It is a well used facility and means that the children at this school have access to books in the afternoons and after lessons, unlike most school ‘libraries’ in Zambia which are kept under lock and key. It was a great day enjoyed by all and hopefully we can continue supporting the great work being done here in some way in the future.

The last school of the week was another community school. Malimba Community school has a paid government head teacher and the rest of the staff are volunteers. In this school the teachers were so full of commitment and they joined in every session that we did. The school is grades 1 to 7 and has 300 pupils. It was formed a few years ago by a couple of local people, one of which, Akim, still works as a teacher there. He is very intelligent and was telling me how his father used to be a teacher and regarded education as the biggest key to improving one’s life, but unfortunately he was killed by an elephant when Akim was still in school and the family had to move back to the mothers village and Akim became responsible for all his siblings. Most of them are on scholarships at various stages in their education and for Akim his biggest dream would be to go to college to become a trained teacher, so he could get paid for doing what he loves and what he does so well and with such obvious passion. We did lots of sessions based of the world here and the atlases, globes and maps were well received. Team games in finding flags or countries are proving to be very popular and competition is always highest when it is girls versus boys! This school runs a feeding programme with food donated by the World Food Programme, which helps encourage families from this very poor community to send their children to school.

Straight after school we hit the road, well… track, back to Chiapata. Another rough, dusty and bumpy 6 hour ride later we arrived. At least the books were safe this time after some emergency carpentry work done by a carpenter I found at Croc Valley. We spent the night at a guesthouse without the fear of hippo attacks or elephant feet, getting ready to cross into Malawi the next day.

The week spent working in the eastern province of Zambia, in the Mfuwe district was a very rewarding one. The pupils and teachers had never seen a programme like ours and they were fasinated by the vehicle, the books, the coloured paper , the volunteers and the stickers!! I have seen that the standard of education was very much similar to that in Livingstone but I was surprised by the progressive outlook of many of the staff encountered out here in the Zambian bush! Once again the commuiny schools and their volunteer teachers impressed me with their commitment and their passion for the children in their community. Very often they are struggling to survive themselves but they go to school everyday and give their all. I admire the positive outlook on life that we encounter everywhere in Zambia. So now it’s on to Malawi.

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