Sunday, 16 July 2017

A quick blog tonight but more to follow tomorrow...

The students have had another packed day and are now very tired so I said I would put up a quick blog to keep you posted but they will write at length again tomorrow.
The church service this morning was great.  Vibrant and full of joy.  The students did us proud with their singing and Chloe F led confidently.  Then it was off to the market for keep sakes before the event of the evening.  Greater Joy put on a party for us in the church hall.  A wonderful spread of food, dancing, African druming and tears when it was time to say our final goodbyes.
Tomorrow we are off to Nsobe Game Park where they will go on a game drive and sleep in some slightly less western accomodation! They will blog more tomorrow.  Keep the comments coming, they love gathering in the lounge before bed to hear what has been posted.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

My reflections so far...

I am grateful that the students have allowed me to blog tonight.  While their highs have come from their new experiences, challenges and relationship building, mine have come from watching them flourish this week. They have all grown in some way or another during their time here.  Learning a new skill, stepping outside of their comfort zone, missing home and leaving behind, for a while, the digital world.     
Will it seems is a natural born leader. He had an immediate rapport with the children from the very first break time games activity and his calm and kind guidance with them would impress the most experienced of teachers.  He led ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf’ and instantly had children on both hands, following his lead and enjoying themselves immensely.
Hannah C has shown herself to be a gentle and sensitive young women this week.  That said she has found a whole new talent with a hammer!  She was brilliant with the carpenter and made a great sieve.  While not the most vocal in the group she has given her all in every task and has pondered what she has seen and experienced, especially with the children who have warmed to her very much indeed. 
Olivia has been a great sport this week.  She has found a new appreciation of practical skills that people need here to survive.  From cleaning to carpentry she has tried hard to improve her practical skills and was even told she could be a Zambian wife if she had some help around the house!  She also represented us brilliantly at the teacher farewell on Friday at Greater Joy where she gave a lovely thank you speech – back in her comfort zone a little after the practical chores! 
Hannah S has had an interesting journey I think.  I know she has waited many years to come on this trip and has not wasted a minute.  She was great on the ‘family shopping trip’ to the supermarket and was able to even hunt down tin foil to wrap up the pack lunches!  She has engaged really well the Zambian people we have met and has been impressive in her confidence to talk and question people about many things including her Zambian peers about university choices and even environmental engineering!
Kalum I think has had a very profound trip.  He was excellent on Sports day at motivating his children and pulling them together as a team but more than that he has shared his thoughts on his own education, the way no opportunity is missed here, and perhaps how we take our opportunities for granted in the UK.  He has shown a kind and generous spirit, always willing to serve and put others before himself.
Chloe F was amazing today!  We joined the praise team from the church and they taught us a Bemba song to sing in church to the congregation tomorrow.  While all the students gave this 100%  Chloe stepped up to be the lead vocalist and has been brilliant in leading the singing and the rehearsals this evening.  Outside of her comfort zone she gained confidence with every practice and I can’t wait for her to shine tomorrow morning.
Chloe B has fallen in love with Zambia.  In fact the locals say she is a Zambian already.  Her love of nature, pace of life and willingness to work hard on any task put before her has been wonderful to watch.   She has thought deeply about issues around development and globalisation and made many profound comments in our evening reflections.
Liberty has excelled herself many times this week but I was most struck by her initiative and ability to problem solve.  One such time was in the money exchange when she took control for the group and organised the different currency and exchange rates for the team when it was not as straight forward as one might imagine.  She has missed home this week but never allowed this to prevent her making the most of this trip.
Natasha has been pensive at times this week and tonight her thoughts came out in a visual way.  This afternoon, the pupils were given the task in groups to go to the market and spend 10 Kwacha (£1) on something that represented Zambia and their time here.  While all the students bought interesting products, Natasha went to the tailor and the carpenter to have a Zambian flag made and could explain the significance of all the colours.  Their group also bought a string of beads and explained how each colour represented an emotion they had had at some point during their time here.  We were all moved.
And so you see I have many reasons to be proud of this wonderful group of young people.  They have embraced their time here so far and been willing to challenge themselves physically, mentally and emotionally but at the same time shown a great team spirit, supporting each other and above all having a great deal of fun.  Thank you for letting me part of your journey!
Mrs Hodges

Friday, 14 July 2017

Sports Day!

The last day at school brought a lot of emotion yet excitement too. Today was sports day! Although it was our last, it was the best yet; the shorts were out, the sun cream was on tap and orders were made to wear our wide brimmed hats - even to Liberty, Hannah and Tasha's disdain. 
When we arrived at school, group A observed a grade 2 lesson on weaving for doormats; the lesson was well prepared by Teacher Precious, the children knew what they were doing and conformed; the lesson was an overall success. Concurrently, group B observed a grade 3 science lesson on series circuits. The lesson didn't go as smoothly as Precious', as it was less prepared and the children were left without anything to do and at times without supervision from their teacher. However, nothing could damage our mood as we were all looking forward to sports day and our last meal with the teachers in the church.
Next was our the Roding Valley led lessons. Group A, led by the artistic Patrick Baidoo, introduced grade 5 to clay building. The children brought in their own clay and with the help of Mr Baidoo and his assistants, created small bricks to represent a small-scale traditional Zambian home. 
Just a few doors down in grade 4 group B, led by the resilient Mrs Hodges, who at the last minute had to change her lesson plan to making paper chatterboxes. Assistant Liberty and her excellent demonstration resulted in a great engaging lesson, full of animation from the children, combining maths and English with paper making (a module in the grade 4 curriculum). 
After that it was time for sports day. The kids got changed into their house colours and headed to the field full of energy, orchestrated by the incredibly enthusiastic Kalum. The atmosphere was intense and thriving as the first sprints were underway. Will's green 'dream' team were the victors of the first race and Teacher Maureen embraced the victory leading Zambian chants which quickly spread around the houses, creating an ecstatic and breathtaking atmosphere. After a series of sprints, the children took part in races with cups of water balanced on their heads. Unsurprisingly, the girls were pro's; the same couldn't be said about Will who had a go and only made it 30 metres before being soaked. Mr Baidoo also had a go and used his Ghanaian skills to cross the finish line.
The cup race was shortly followed by wheelbarrow races and piggy back races, concluded with an over and under game. The scores were counted and it was revealed that Liberty and Chloe F's orange team were the overall winners on the day. 
At lunch, we all bid farewell to the teachers and Angelina and Ospeck, with Olivia giving a brilliant speech thanking them for welcoming us and opening us up to live-changing experiences. We then sang happy 60th birthday to Angelina and gave the teachers and cooks presents.
After leaving the school we headed to the shopping mall to. With the feeling of a strange family shopping trip, we headed to Shoprite to buy everything we needed to make lunch for ourselves and the Youth Praise team who will be prepping us tomorrow for church on Sunday. When we got back to the Town House, we sat down together outside, all adopted a role, whether it was buttering or foil-wrapping and prepared a wonderful lunch.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Toilets, Crickets and Sieves!

Today was an intresting and eye opening day, where we were given the opportunity to experience many new activities. The day started with us observing and assisting a Zambian sewing lesson which was very intersting as you can imagine as sewing just isn't our forte (other than Will). We then had the chance to observe lessons that were taught by the teachers from Roding Valley, these included making friendship bracelets with Mr Baidoo and collages with Mrs Hodges, this really gave the children an opportunity for their creative sides and personalities to flourish- for example their cheekiness of hiding the beads in their shirt pockets which Mr Baidoo was not very happy about! However there was one member of our team missing which was Kalum who got himself into a right pickle after locking himself in the toilet for about half an hour, don't worry a teacher let him out after quite a long challenge of shouting. Kalum wasn't the only one who got themselves into a pickle when Chloe F found herself running away from the biggest cricket she had ever seen. Also, we had the opportunity to feel like children again helping to make the classroom a mess during collage making, he he. Next we got to see what the kitchen was like in the school and got to stir the nshima which was much harder than it looked, caused a sense of weakness after realising our struggle was not a struggle for children half our age. We then were split into our groups and Mrs Hodges' group went on home visits which included carrying out a typical Zambian cleaning routine- which none of us were used to! Whilst we were doing this, Mr Baidoo's group went to a local seamstress' house and learnt how to make mats and stitch with a machine, it was very suprising to see how naturally it came to them being able to do it so quickly without having to think about it. Whilst Mr Baidoo's group was doing the home visits, which was very eventful for Libby as she found herself running away from two chickens! Our group went on work experience at a local carpenters, where we were able to make our very own sieves (don't worry Mum I'll bring it home). Overall we found today very rewarding and enjoyable but equally as tiring, but we are very excited for the rest of our trip.

Hannah C, Tasha and Chloe F xx

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

First Day at School

Today was an interesting and emotionally charged day; we visited Greater Joy School for the first time and observed some lessons in which we had to identify the similarities and differences between the learning experiences in English primaries compared to Zambian ones. We found that there were far more similarities; however, one major difference that we noticed was their attitude towards learning; they were far more eager to learn and were excellently behaved in lessons. After observing the lessons we spent break with the younger children, playing games like duck duck goose and whats the time Mr. Wolf with them – we discovered through this that Will would make an amazing primary school teacher! We were also given the opportunity to interview the woman in charge of admin for Greater Joy, with many of us finding it strange that she was the only person charged with managing admin whereas English schools would have a team of people to do this. We were then given a tour of the village, which saw Mr Baidoo (and Kalum) attempt to buy a bag of popcorn worth 1 kwatcha (approximately 10p) with a 50 kwatcha note! Perhaps most surprising is that the man selling it actually offered for Mr Baidoo to just take the bag for free, which is amazing considering that he would not be making any more than 20 kwatcha a day, in fact, likely a lot less. Lunch consisted of nshima (maize meal), beans and relish, which we all took up to scooping into our mouths with our hand very quickly! Though this day sounds pretty amazing so far, there was a significantly upsetting period in which we visited another school which has unfortunately been temporarily closed by the government due to insufficient facilities (toilet related). The classrooms that we saw were meant to hold 20+ children, yet they barely fit us. One of them – that didn’t have a door – had charcoal mathematic equations over the makeshift blackboard where the children missed school so much that they went back to practise their own maths. All of us also found it particularly.. disturbing, Olivia in particular, how there was one girl, who had been a student there before the closure, in a classroom (that was being used as a storeroom for the overnight security guard’s things) making lunch for the security guard! It was even more perplexing to find that it was just a random child that he had tasked with this, and not a daughter or immediate relative! Despite this, however, we all fed back that we had had an interesting, fun and satisfying day. (Chloe B - day 2)

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Arriving in Zambia

We are here! After an exhausting journey which involved an eleven hour flight from London to Johannesberg and then a further flight from Johannesberg to Ndola, we were met at the airport and taken to the Townhouse (after a brief stop for lunch!). The journey was relatively smooth, even Tasha's emergency trip to the toilet and Mr Baidoo's massage break did not halt our progress. Kalum also accidentally spent 1000 Rand on a sunhat (97 American dollars) before realising the exchange rate and very quickly returning it! Chloe B has also enjoyed discussing photography and the ethics of keeping animals in captivity with Mike (a Beyond Ourselves worker). Hannah C and Libby have also collected everyone's breakfast orders for tomorrow morning, no mean feat considering the amount of times we changed our mind! Chloe F's card game skills were also excellent keeping us all entertained on the flight as she patiently explained (to me as I kept getting it wrong!) the rules of rummy and Poker. Will has spent a lot of time on airport floors, demonstrating a surprising ability to fall asleep on hard flooring (whilst still wearing his sun hat!). Meanwhile Hannah S, Chloe B and I are all looking forward to sleeping in our room... as the group of three we have been given the Honeymoon Suite, Hannah S remarked that she's always had a dream to sleep under a princess canopy bed, the illusion was slightly shattered as we realised it was a mosquito net!! - Olivia (Day 1)

Friday, 7 July 2017

Getting ready to go!

I can't quite believe it has been 3 years since we were last in Zambia visiting Greater Joy School.  This weekend, Mr Baidoo, 9 Sixth Formers and I will be busy packing ready to fly on Monday. We are all excited to see how things have moved on since our last visit, see old friends and make new ones. While we are there we will be teaching, supporting the feeding programme and visiting social enterprise projects that are working towards sustainability for this school by the community long term. We would love you to follow our blog post us a message when you have chance!
Mrs Hodges