The plan for the morning was to join the children for assembly. Awoken by the cockerel, then eating a hearty bowl of porridge, we watched out the window as the children headed into school. We met them at 08:00 for morning assembly, where we enjoyed some songs and the Zambian national anthem played on the recorder. After assembly, we had the opportunity to hand out some donated caps to all the boys, as the girls had received hair clips on the previous visit. The joyous looks on their faces warmed my heart, as we took some photos to send back to the donor as some thanks for their kindness. We then visited each classroom testing the children on what they had been learning the previous day and giving the grade 7’s some encouragement for their up-and-coming exams.
Our time at Natemwa has come to an end. I was very sorry to see it go and wished I could help this caring community more there and then. However, we still had much to look forward to, most notably Nayamba school, the last project we’d visit and of course the journey in the back of the truck again. Although in the same geographic area, Naymaba exists much closer to civilisation than Natemwa. The school hosts 323 students and is more developed in comparison.
As we arrived, this distinction became more evident, the younger children were excited to see us, but the older students were used to seeing unfamiliar faces. Each project location we visited gave off different vibes to one another, each creating its own personality. Nayamba was no different as we were directed to the new block which was built over the last couple of years. Prior to this, the school day had to be split into two to account for all of the classes. We were greeted with the pre-school class who were celebrating one of their classmate’s birthday with some dancing to the music player. Being closer to the main road, Nayamba is fortunate enough to have a transformer for electricity. This adds an entirely different dynamic, as lessons can be more interactive, and further building works can manipulate the use of power tools.
Leaving the classroom, we settled in a room where will would set up the usual interactions with parents and students. Meanwhile myself and Kathy journeyed the length of the school getting a better insight into its development. This was exceptionally useful for Kathy to develop ideas for Natemwa. Approaching the sanitation block, which was under development, Kathy spoke of the minimal number of ablutions currently at Natemwa, and the need for more toilets as the student numbers rise. We critiqued the block and enquired about price as an idea for future fundraising. $5000 to build two blocks of five long drop toilets, with sinks etc, a price very small for a potentially huge impact.
At this point, we had found ourselves in grade 3, where we had taken over the classroom with our face drawing task we came up with. Earlier in the month, we had taken paper with a face outline to the Court Lane Junior School Summer Fair in the UK, folded the paper in half, and get children to draw on half of the face. The plan was to then take the half filled in faces to Zambia to get some children at one of the schools to fill in the other side and join them together. And here we were a few weeks later and it was happening. Once the drawings were completed, the children opened the page. Many of the children were in hysterics at the abominations (in a good way) that both very different sides of the face had created.
With the team content with everything achieved, we had time to quickly check Nayamba’s feeding programme before heading off. They were using a mix of two different programmes, the one used at Natemwa and HEPS, a soya based programme, both achieving similar results. Goodbyes were said to the staff and we began the journey home, but not before stopping off at the local Department of Education. Like that of many countries, the views on the government in Zambia tend to drift one of two ways. Many recognise President Lungu’s important focus on educational developments, but others are concerned at his dictator-like politics. Hearing the daily news on the radio, it certainly seemed the latter was more prevalent, although I would encourage anyone to look further into it before making a sound judgement. The relevance was that privately funded Community schools like Natemwa are often under threat of being taken over by the government system, which has shown weaknesses. This was certainly something which, prior to the meeting, they were fairly insistent on, and this would result in replacing Kwabe with a government Head teacher. Not to dawdle too much about politics, but it turned out the new DEBS was very close friends with Martha, and was much more understanding of the situation at Natemwa. So, all was good, but I believe it is important to mention how governments can sometimes slow effective change in developing countries, which is one of the many hurdles charities across the globe have to overcome.
We dropped Kathy back off home, indulged in some sandwiches, switched cars, and finally headed back home. Although it was a two-day trip, it felt like one extended day, so I treated myself to a short nap upon arrival back home.
That’s where the majority of the visit concludes. The last three days are focussed on administrative things, which does not make for good content. I appreciate anyone who had taken their time to read these blogs. As much as it has been a nice way for myself to store some memories. My intention was to offer a realistic approach to how charities visit project work and take you through my experiences of what each is like. Sometimes there can be a disconnect between the donor and not fully understanding where their money is being used. Hopefully, I have given a little insight into this, in my own quirky way. If there are further questions, hit up the ‘contact us’ page on the Bana Tandizo website, or email me firstname.lastname@example.org. I would appreciate any feedback and enquiries into project work, and even some constructive criticism.