Tuesday, 20 August 2013

One week - Two New Schools.

The first week of holiday club on board the Livingstone Bookbus 2013 has been one of the busiest but most memorable ever. We visited 2 new schools, for 3 days each, even going in on Saturday. Both schools were rural, around 30km from Livingstone and the turnout for the Bookbus was exceptional.

The first three days were at Kamatanda Village, where there is a community preschool and school with grades 1, 2 and 3. The nearest government school is 9km walk, this prohibits the younger children beginning school until they are older, so the local community, backed by a retired teacher, started their own school. It is in a straw and mud hut but the children flock in and love to learn.

When the Bookbus first arrived, they had never seen anything like it before. There was a lot of open mouthed staring but we just jumped straight in reading some classic stories and getting the kids and teachers to join in with the actions. Being far from town and not on the tourist trail, villages like this seldom get visitors and if they do it may just be a fleeting visit, As Ann the headteacher said to me, “If anyone visits us, they are soon come and gone. We can’t believe that you have spent 3 days in our village. Thank you. Our children will never forget this.”

Lots of curious parents and onlookers were always around, coming to see what we were doing. There were also some older children from the village who joined in and in one morning we turned Kamatanda Community from this

to this!! 

Fun was had by everyone and the teachers were busy learning by doing. They thanked us for teaching them new skills and ways of interacting with the children.

Each day we returned, the welcome would get louder and the number of kids following the bus would increase. We read stories, sang songs, made elephants, lions, butterflies, fish, crowns and windmills. We made new friends and many memories for many people. It was a great 3 days and we rounded it off by giving the 150 children each their own book to take home. They were so proud and eager to look at the books. The teachers were amazed that the books were for the children to keep. We left accompanied with waves, smiles and lots of requests for a return visit.

The second three days were at Siandunda village, on the banks of the Zambezi River. The journey to school involved some off-roading, down sandy tracks through Mopani woodlands. Here the number of children was over 200 growing 260 on day 3. There is only a preschool in the village, with the nearest school almost 10km walk, but being summer holidays there were children of all ages around. This village was actually featured on the Comic Relief program last year where celebrities walked with some children to school to see the distance. They promised to build them a school, so we shall have to see.

We set up shop outside the headman’s house. He was delighted to have us and sat watching everything from the shade. The older children had a library corner and were happy reading a variety of books, many adults joined them and they were all fascinated by the wordsearch puzzles we handed out. The crowd of younger children enjoyed the stories and the crafts, on Saturday 220 lions and windmills were produced. Once again the teachers were super keen to join in and loved learning how to make things and read the books in a fun and interactive way.
One volunteer teacher told me it was the best teacher training he had ever received. On the Saturday as we rolled up the mats and packed away the crayons for the last time, we were constantly asked if we were coming tomorrow and if not tomorrow then when. The headman thanked us for bringing joy to his village and we left each child with their own book to continue reading until the Bookbus returns again.
Kelly August 2013

Monday, 12 August 2013

Literacy in Motion. (and P.S. Giraffes CAN dance!!!)

The last week of term has come and gone in Zambia and holidays began today. During last week we carried on with our book in every hand scheme where we aim to give each child their own book to take home.
At Muke the children were delighted with their story books and even if it may be too difficult for them to read, they delight in looking at the pictures and discussing them in their own language. Seeing them busy buried in the books is a delight.
And they will take them home, where other members of the family and community will be able to read them. Giving the children books is giving them something they wouldn’t otherwise have access to and brings them into circulation in the community. This is really literacy in motion.

At Twabuka School we handed out more of the Miles Kelly Bookbus branded fact books to all the children in grades 3 to 7. They were extremely happy, especially the grades 3 and 4 for who it was their first book and as we left we could see them all busy pouring over the books, discussing the pictures and pointing things out to each other. Another fantastic sight and great to know hundreds more books are circulating out in the rural communities.

There was also a surprise for the grades 1 and 2 at Twabuka, they are not normally taught on Bookbus days.


But every week when we arrive they hopefully hang out the windows shouting ‘are you coming to Grade 2 today?’ and I always have to say ‘No’. But this week the answer was yes and to say they were happy is an understatement. There was a lot of jumping up and down and cheering! And magically, after reading “Giraffes Can’t Dance” and “Dear Zoo”, they were transformed into classes of dancing giraffes!
Kelly August 2013

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Another Fantastic Day!

Today we had a fantastic day on board the Bookbus in Livingstone. This morning we went to Simoonga Primary School and as usual we worked with the 80 children in grades 5 and 6. Normally the children take home whichever crafts they make. The teachers have been trying, in vain, to make them leave their things to brighten up the classrooms but the children always wanted to take them home to show their families. Even though Simoonga school is a government school, the classrooms are still very bare and the teachers work without any resources. So today we planned a day to please the teachers. We decided on making wall friezes and collages to decorate the classroom, which each child doing a section and basing them on facts we learnt from some of the Miles Kelly donated books.
We started with a class quiz, where the children had to find the answers in the books. The competition was fierce but lots of fun was had by all. Then we all worked on the collages. The end result was amazing and completely transformed the classroom, leaving lots of facts on the walls for the kids to learn.

Then they got to keep the 2 books we had worked with to take home. So much excitement in one morning!


Then this afternoon we visited 2 new community schools which we are hoping to work with in the holidays. These are villages where the Bookbus has never been, about 25km from Livingstone. There was much curiosity amongst the villagers and the teachers are really enthusiastic to have us come. It is amazing to see the difference in the colour of the soil from the villages we work with nearby. There the orange soil produces terracotta houses, here the grey earth makes ash coloured houses, what a contrast! One school is quite a way off the tarred road and is in a small mud walled building but right next to the Zambezi River, a stunning location and certainly worth the long, bumpy and dusty ride. We are really looking forward to working in these new villages very soon.
Kelly. 1st August 2013