Wow is the main word that springs to mind whilst in South Luangwa National Park. I know of no other place on earth where hippos and elephants weave between your tents and munch grass by your ear at night! Thw wildlife was abundant, the safari highlighted that, and all in all it felt like 'the real Africa.'
As for The Book Bus, we had a lovely time with small classes full of polite and enthusiastic children. Books were read then lion masks, dancing giraffes and butterflies were made and the kids fascinated us with stories about the wild animals that visit their villages. It's part of daily life there to be on constant alert for dangerous encounters with lions or elephants it seems. That's their reality and we got to experience that briefly so can now really empathize!
Everyone said the place exceeded their expectations and had an amazing and unique life experience there, and lucky Glen gets to go back soon with the next group!
Tuesday, 27 September 2011
Friday, 16 September 2011
LAKE OF STARS: Yellow Flip-Flops!
Yellow. When you see bright yellow at this year’s festival, it’s likely to be one of the Book Bus team and you can join in. Leading up to the festival we’ll be giving out 10,000 books to the children we work with in Malawi and to celebrate this, the Book Bus will be at the festival with activities and events for you to join in with.
Swap your Flip-Flops. Instead of taking that extra pair of flip-flops, bring a couple of children’s books or some art materials. Donate them at the stand and we’ll be able to pass them on to the local children.
Gosh! Where to start? It was such a wonderful, rewarding experience.
Camping in tents in a secure site (Grubby’s Grotto!) 15 minutes taxi ride from Victoria Falls, I met just two other volunteers on my first week (normally there should be 8) so we were under strength. But as the schools had just returned from their 4-week break, not all the pupils had arrived back: many would have been staying with relatives.
With Sunday to recover from the long flight via Johannesburg, and Monday to prepare a few classes and sort out the bus, we went to Nakatindi Basic School on Tuesday as the schools had used their first day back to clean the classrooms. My first class was a Grade 4 group (age range 11-12) and, after introductions, we read Handa’s Surprise, discussed it and played a game I had prepared. I was relieved to find the children to be pretty responsive and friendly. Nakatindi is one of the poorest schools in the area, receiving no grants from the government, and has recently had a water pump installed for school and village use.
Friday, 2 September 2011
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!!
Thursday, 1 September 2011
Now it’s school holiday time in
we are doing week long holiday clubs and so far the first two weeks have been amazing. The first week we went to a school, called Chilileko (blessing) right on the outskirts of Livingstone that we have been visiting since the beginning of this year. About 120 pupils turned up everyday which was a great turnout and we had lots of fun, its nice for he volunteers to really get to know a group of kids well, which you can’t do when you are doing a different school everyday! All the teachers came everyday too which showed great commitment as the school is very far from where they live. They were joining it with the crown making, cutting paper people chains and chatting to the volunteers! We set up library corners for the children while they were waiting for their lessons and it was great just to watch them absorbed in the books. Paper maiche made its debut at the school, the older kids really enjoyed it but the little ones just wanted to pinch the balloons!! We had the longest lines ever for a game of “over and under”, thought it was never going to end! And on the Friday we got the glitter out!!! Everyone was covered in green sparkles!! Zambia