Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Seasons Greetings!

25th December 2013

It's Christmas time and this weekend the project in Kitwe decided to partner with the Talent Community Club to celebrate Christmas with the visually impaired and their children.  This club focuses on building skills and encouraging the visually impaired and their children to move off the streets and make a living by using their skills. 

The visually impaired women and men whom we invited for Christmas lunch live in the corridors of Kitwe town begging for money and help from passers by. Most of them have children who are affected by their parent’s disability and have to sit by their parent’s side the whole day directing them to a better spot to sit or to walk them to a car to beg for money. The sad part of it is their children and their children’s children have become part of this street life.  About two thirds of the 40 children of the visually impaired go to school but their classes are often interrupted by their parents or grandparents need for a guide on the streets. Christmas is about sharing and we decided to share our day, love, smiles, fun, and food with these precious children of Kitwe to give them a Christmas to remember.

The children seated alongside their visually impaired grandparents.

One of the highlights of the day was a visit from Zambia’s first ever Track and Field world champion, Samuel Matete. Having grown up in a small township in Chingola he encouraged the children to polish up their skills and talents to attain greatness just like he did. 

Zambia’s first ever Track and field World champion, Samuel Matete visits Book Bus Charlie
After all the fun and games and eating the children took time to talk about the importance of school and knowing how to read and write.  It’s during these interactions that I asked the children “do you know what a library is?” one answered “it’s where they park cars” none of the children had the correct answer or any clue what so ever. With that we took them on a tour of Book Bus Charlie. The children felt extra special to have Charlie come out on a Saturday just for them to have a fun reading day and for those who couldn't read they still felt encouraged and happy to be part of Book Bus day. Some of the children go to school and were extremely proud to have a book as a Christmas gift; one could easily see the smiles on their faces, the excitement to own a brand new book and their visually impaired parents and grandparents were pleasantly surprised.  Some of the kids were eager to show off their reading skills. This Christmas lunch and the Miles Kelly Books are probably the only gifts they will get this Christmas.

Children of the visually impaired reading their new Miles Kelly books
One of our favourite things to do as individuals is cooking and the book bus team and talent community club all got together for a big Christmas lunch cook out. 
Happy Christmas and New Year  from Kitwe to all of our supporters around the world!
Monica (Kitwe-Zambia).

Doc cutting up vegetables for the master stew he was cooking for the children of Kitwe Christmas lunch (Doc is part of Book Bus and has been driving our bus Charlie for years)

Ethel volunteered to help with the cooking

Time to eat

The Children of Kitwe waiting to say a prayer before they eat their food.

The Book Bus team make sure everyone gets a plate full

Drinks anyone….?

Our youngest reader enjoying her meal

Monday, 16 December 2013

Charlie in Kitwe, Zambia

After a week of working in Kitwe, the book bus has become popular and we have received requests from a number of schools to visit them. This week in particular, I am excited as we are going to visit a small community school called Manyando Community School which was started in the year 2000 in a compound called Bulangililo. The school has a total of 310 pupils and has grades 1 to 7, with only 3 class rooms and one block of toilets. Located in a highly populated area, the children who attend school here can barely afford basic education. The community school is free. The pupils are expected to wear a uniform but most of the children come from poor families and cannot afford to buy the uniforms.

Manyando Community School children.
The teachers are all volunteers and are not qualified but have been trained in basic education through workshops held by the Ministry of Education. The community school runs their operation solely on the donations received from a charity named Blessed to Bless Australia that supports the school. The donations are used to pay the teachers a basic subsistence allowance.

This community school is a rundown block of three class rooms, but of the three rooms two rooms are subdivided to make them into two classrooms using a curtain. The picture above shows a broken wall which marks the division of one of the class rooms. Otherwise these classrooms are used as a prayer hall at the weekend.

The picture above shows the children at Manyando
community visiting the bus for the first time.
 These children have never been to a library and The Book Bus Charlie was their first feel of a library. When we arrived at Manyando Community School and had our first interactions with the children they were very reserved and one would assume they don’t speak a word of English or the local language. And so Charlie went back every week to visit the children who were free to take part in reading, singing, dancing and doing other crafts and drawing.

In the third week of our visit the children came enthusiastically to the bus and were saying “we have come to learn to read please give us books” you could see the smiles and they were talking this time around.

Children drawing their favourite characters from
one of the Tinga Tinga books they love.
On this day the children had excitedly suggested they would tell us about the stories we had been reading over the past weeks and decided to draw what they liked from the Elephant Book. This made us proud, the children had been paying attention and with each visit they had become more and more self-confident.  The children had over a short period of time transformed from being reserved to confident girls and boys who could tell us about the stories they read and explain why the liked the characters from the books they read.

It’s time for the holidays in Zambia and our Zambian school calendar starts in January and ends December. For Mayando School we went in the first week of December to say bye to the children, on this day we gave away 110 Miles Kelly Books to the children who had come for The Book Bus to take home with them. Oh… the children were happy and they sang and danced with us.

Three boys reading their new Miles Kelly books.
 You could see the joy in the children’s faces when they got a book each. One said “wow, a book of my own” and he sat down reading through and shouted in our local language “Monkey” then he looked up and said it in English “teacher Monica my book has monkeys”. This boy had learned the word monkey on one of the book bus days when he read a Tinga Tinga Tales book “Why Monkeys Swing in theTrees”. And with that we said good bye, happy holidays to one of our schools.

- Monica. (Kitwe-Zambia)