Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Helen's Book Bus experience in Zambia

My name is Helen, I am 29-years-old. I volunteered with the Book Bus in May and June of 2009. The Book Bus is a wonderful project based in Livingstone, Zambia. We visited five different schools in the Livingstone area, one for each day of the school week. The Book Bus is a Livingstone icon - everybody knows the Book Bus!     

Volunteering with the Book Bus is such a rewarding experience. I remember one of my fellow volunteers commenting after my first day that she had never seen anyone smile so much! The children are amazing, so keen to learn and so happy that you have taken the time to help them. They are often packed sixty to a class so any individual attention you can give them is really appreciated. 
In a typical day I would take four small groups for an hour each, grades four to seven. The work was also challenging at times as we would work with 8-year-olds who had excellent reading skills as well as 16-year-olds who could hardly read at all. Creativity, flexibility and patience are great skills to have as every group is different. In the lessons we would usually read together, talk about what they had read and do an activity based around the story and themes of the book, usually arts and crafts (drawing, making masks etc) or play games to further their understanding (football, netball, word games etc). Sometimes we would work on little projects together that would continue over into the next weeks lesson! The children especially liked 'The Banana Song'!  

One of the best things about volunteering with the Book Bus for me, was the wonderful people I met. I made some great friends, my fellow volunteers, the teachers and of course the children. The support I had from the Book Bus and VentureCo staff was great, both pre-departure and whilst in Zambia.
Zambia is a wonderful country and in our free time we explored the lovely town of Livingstone and the surrounding areas. There are so many things to do - see Victoria Falls aka Mosi-o-Tunya (‘the smoke that thunders’ - and it really does), go white water rafting and kayaking on the mighty Zambezi river, pet lions and cheetahs, walk to the Devil's Pool, bungi jump 111m from the Zim-Zam bridge, the second highest bunji in the world (if you're brave enough – I’m not), see hippos and giraffes on a sunset cruise, take high tea at The Royal Livingstone and visit Chobe National Park in Botswana, the elephant viewing there is amazing! 

I can’t wait to go back again!!