On Saturday morning, we got on the bus with Renwick to head to Kawama School, where we split into our groups for the day ahead. The groups joined some local business men and women for work experience. The work that the groups experienced ranged from selling vegetables and charcoal, to making brooms and dusting houses. We were all struck by the physical demands of both jobs, but also the psychological drain of earning barely enough to feed their large families with only one meal a day. This was particularly highlighted in the coal work experience as he had to wake up at 3 am every day to cycle to near the border with Congo to collect the charcoal to then push the bike filled with coal all the way back to Kawama for the working day ahead. Having experienced first-hand how difficult it is to sell charcoal in the community, we realised just how hard some people have to work to survive. This made us reflect on our own lives; we only attempted these jobs for an hour and half and felt just a small proportion of their daily hardship, which made it a very sobering experience.
The groups also made home visits to some of the homes of children from Kawama Community School who lived in the area. The groups visited a variety of houses with different standards of living. What was most eye opening about the experience was the amount of people living in such confined spaces. As well as being surprised by the sizes of the houses, the stories of the family members were very hard hitting. Seeing the houses was quite saddening after seeing how hard they work on a daily basis to try and get enough food for their families but still gain such little profits and relatively low standards of living. Speaking to one family was particularly harrowing as the mother explained how she was married at 13 and had her first child at 16; we later discussed the widespread issue of sexual abuse in the community.Back to all news