Holiday time at school and the first week saw us at the rural village of Sinde, where we visit Twabuka School every Wednesday in term time. We told the children the last week of term that we would be coming but when we rolled into the village, where we wanted to park up, some of the volunteers looked concerned as we could only see a handful of children. However, true to form, within 5 minutes of arriving there were more than 50 and with 30 minutes we were almost up to 90! The turnout was around 100 each day with about 30 grade 5 to 7 and 70 grade 4 and below!
We had a very special week, getting to know the children and some of the parents. Driving through the villages on the way there we are always greeted with smiles and waves from everyone. We are always also followed by a band of children that grows steadily with each homestead we pass. The favourite chant is “one book, one book!” The shouts got more adventurous as the week went on “one book of colouring” “one book of lions”, “one atlas book!” and at the end of the week we gave all the children their own book to take home. They were thrilled. I met the head teacher of the neighbouring village school so hopefully we can begin to work with his pupils, in the near future, so they don’t just have to watch the bus pass through their village but can partake and benefit from the resources we have.
There were also some visitors to the village from another well known international charity and they were really impressed with what we were doing and how engaged the children were. They said it was so unusual to see the children being educated in a fun and proactive way, especially out in the villages. I’ve not met a Zambian child yet who prefers the holidays to term time. They have nothing to do in the 4 weeks so providing them with a week of fun educational activities is certainly a highlight of their break.
The volunteers went on a tour of the village, guided by one of the parents and really got to see where the children are living and to understand some of the challenges facing rural societies. Every day we did something fun and exciting and educational but everybody’s favourite day was when we made kites and windmills! It was fantastic to see the comprehension and joy on the children’s faces when they saw the square of paper turn into a working windmill or “fan” as they called them. From the smallest toddler to the 16 year olds everyone was walking around with their windmills. Lots of the kids were running laps of the village square to make them spin! It was a really memorable day.
It was sad to wave goodbye on Friday as all the kids were saying “see you tomorrow!” “Are you coming next week?” and we had to say no but the Bookbus will roll into another school in Livingstone for the second holiday week and bring our books and volunteers to another group of enthusiastic Zambian children!
Kelly - August 2012