Sunday, 23 June 2013

A Great Day!

Every day on board the Bookbus is exciting, rewarding and special but last week we had an especially fantastic day. Early on Thursday morning we drove out to the village of Muke, somewhere the Bookbus has never before been, to visit a small community preschool. The founder of the school had heard of the Bookbus and seen in it nearby villages and wished for his community to also benefit, so early one morning he arrived at our camp and invited us to visit him. We didn’t want to disrupt our other programs so we went early and planned to spend an hour there before heading to Simoonga, our usual Thursday School.

Muke is a very rural community about 20km from Livingstone. It has around 300 households, all without electricity or running water. Most people are subsistence farmers, although some work in nearby commercial farms. There is no school and children have to walk to Simoonga, so many of them begin school late as the walk is too far for them to start at age 7. Edwin, the founder of the preschool, saw that the need for a preschool was great and set about organising with the village headman and elders. Some of the community were behind him but even today many parents still don’t see the importance of education, as they themselves grew up without it. At present the preschool meets in the mud brick church building and conducts lessons outside under the tree, they are part way to building their own school and add a little to the structure every time they get some funds.

Currently there are about 30 pupils at the preschool, but as we were just 2 volunteers this week that was a good number. They were very shy when we first arrived, some were afraid of the “m’zungu” visitors, the first white people they had met. We had brought snakes for them to colour and for many it was the first time using crayons. Once the snakes were coloured we cut them into spirals and stuck them on string. The children, from age 3 to 7, were so excited. Never before had they seen anything like this! We finished with the story “Animal Bop” and with each page the kids became more animated and happy to dance with us, like the animals in the book.

We met the headman who gave us his blessing to work in the village, he told us we are free to come whenever we want and to move around the village as if it was our home. Traditions like this are still very important in society and very much alive in rural Zambia. It was an honour to be invited to Muke and to meet the children and members of the community, hopefully we can work together with the village, and plans for a holiday club out here are already underway.

We then drove back to Simoonga, the grade 6 class were hanging out the window frames waiting for us to arrive. The grade 5 and 6 classes are about 40 pupils here, so being just 2 we decided to work with them as just one big group. We based our lessons on the Miles Kelly “Big cats” book.  We had prepared a quiz, so we put the kids in teams, gave them paper and markers and we had questions on big paper. Each team had to find the answer in the book, write it on the paper and hold up the answer before the time ran out! The competition was fierce but they loved it, we followed that with a giant “Big Cat” Bingo, a word search and then lion masks! 

As it is only the 5th week we have been to Simoonga, everything is still new for them; there was a loud cheer when we showed then the prototype mask! However this was very much overshadowed by the giant cheer when we told them they could keep the Big Cat books as well as another, which we handed out! They were over the moon, and kept coming up to ask if they could really take them home. The joy in the classrooms was enormous and infectious. It was really one of the most rewarding days, I can remember! Thank you to Miles Kelly Publishing from the children of Simoonga!

Kelly June 2013