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)