Friday, 17 December 2010

Book Bus Journal - Zambia 29/06/10

Wintertime, The World Cup and Our Timetable!

Zambian winter is here again! Temperatures at night are plummeting but everyday dawns bright and clear. The sessions at school now take place in the sunshine as the shade is far too cold! Daytime temperatures are still between 25 and 30C so we can’t complain too much! The Bookbus truck is now fully recognisable as it’s been painted with our logo. We have had shelves custom made, it looks like a moving library. So we aren’t just greeted with cries of m’zungo but also “give me one book!” and it’s now well known all around Livingstone. 

The interaction with the local people is much more than in the bus because of the open sides and the volunteers can get a real feeling of local village life as we trundle by on our way to school! Most houses have a small stall outside where they are selling a few items, usually surplus things they have grown themselves, but also firewood, charcoal and mealie meal, for making nshima! Most Zambian households spend most of there time outside, cooking, eating, bathing and washing are all done in the yard. On the routes we take to school we are now well known and are greeted by children and adults alike. Scores of children often run alongside, laughing and waving and, of course, shouting!!

The world cup is playing a big part in African life here and this despite the fact that Zambia didn’t qualify! We have been watching the England games in the old cinema in the centre of town, a very cool atmosphere but far removed from your traditional UK pub crowd! The first England game we took some of the older boys from the orphanage to watch and they had an amazing time, even though we only drew! Sunday, unfortunately, saw our last game but the now we are getting behind Ghana, the only African team left, as is the whole of Zambia! They are certainly proud to be African and when Ghana beat the USA the sounds of vuvuzelas and celebrations could be heard all over town!

 Life at the schools continues as usual, with each and every school having its own particular charm to make it somebody’s favourite! On Monday there is Linda with the polite and reserved, but ever eager to learn, children and also the fantastic teachers that always make us welcome and want to see what novels we have for them to borrow! As we do our lessons outside, near the market ,we are well known by many of the local people and there is a great sense of being part of the community!

On Tuesday there is Nakatindi with the large classes of boisterous pupils in their blue uniforms. The groups here are always very vocal but always smiling and waiting to get their hands on anything shiny or the football!
Wednesday brings us to the huge Libala school! So different from anywhere else we go. There are always large audiences of pupils crowding around the mats, wanting to watch the lessons and wishing it was their turn! The atmosphere here is always highly charged and vibrant with never a dull moment and the use of glitter in any session is seriously discouraged because of the riot potential!

Thursday is the newest addition with Maanu Mbwami and the children here are still very quiet and reserved, almost shy. They still have that wide eyed look of amazement when we arrive but I can certainly notice the difference and the rise in confidence in the 5 weeks we have been visited. They are slowly becoming used to the yellow shirted m’zungos! The teachers here are so grateful that we are visiting their school and they tell me so every week. Thay also call every Wednesday just to make sure we are still visiting the following day!
Fridays is the variety day. Mornings at cowboy cliffs, to be welcomed by the “welcoming song” and then entertained by dozens of very cute kids all wanting to hold our hands, make things and play games. Then afternoons at “Lubasi” where the children eagerly await our arrival and are just pleased to spend time with us.

Every week brings new surprises, smiles and heart warming stories but also frustration and disappointment at the education system in Zambia. Children are so willing to learn, they see education as a way to better their lives. Most children want to be doctors, nurses, judges and accountants but if they still struggle to read at grade 7 then this is never going to be possible. There are so many amazing and dedicated teachers out there, especially in the community schools, but they are fighting a losing battle against high class sizes and next to no resources. Everywhere we visit values the project and insists that it is really helping the children we spend time with! If we can make a difference to a handful of children then it makes everything worthwhile!

Kelly Geoghegan