A group of 16 UVI students left the ‘bubble’ of Cranleigh School immediately after lessons at the start of Long Leave to make the journey to Zambia, for the second school visit to our partner school in Kawama, on the outskirts of the northern industrial town of Kitwe. The trip was a follow up to the inaugural visit made by a group of OCs in August this year, during which a new school with four classrooms was built (see http://www.cranleigh.org/charity-news/1746-beyond-ourselves-cranleigh-students-help-construct-school-in-zambia). The aim of this visit was to decorate the classroom block, as well as for the Cranleigh students to take part in teaching the Zambian children.
It was a completely new experience with none of the group having any idea of what to expect, including Mr Ross, Miss Morland and Rev. Parker. We arrived to be greeted by Mr Block (who is now a couple of months into his ‘Livingstone to London’ bike ride), looking to have got a little carried away with his new found freedom and having grown a ‘Bear Grylls’ style beard! We were all immediately hit by the heat and the attention paid by locals to us ‘Mzungus’ (persons of foreign descent), things we had to become accustomed to very quickly.
We all experienced many valuable lessons throughout the trip. Local people live in such poor living conditions, often wearing the same set of clothes everyday and playing football with carrier bags as the ball. We realised as outsiders
entering their community as aliens that we needed to make an impact and instantly the two ‘communities’ were joined together through the power of music as Cranleigh students performed two hymns at Sunday’s church service. This quickly broke any difference between the two groups of people present and we realised how much of an impact a smile could have even if there was a break down in verbal communication. We were fortunate that our trip coincided with Independence Day celebrations, and so on Monday our group was able to join in a morning of singing and dancing that showed how proud local people are of their country.
During the weekdays, we split the day between running classes and painting the classrooms. We were struck by how many children wanted to come to school, and how desperate they were to learn, seeming in particular to enjoy maths! It was hard work, and we soon realised how hard it had been for the local teachers (who work as unpaid volunteers) to teach around 150 children at a time in one baking hot church hall.
The joy of everyone concerned at the end of the week when the classrooms were finished gave us great satisfaction, and it was amazing to think that by the time we were back at Cranleigh on Monday 31st October, the classrooms were being used.
Overall we left feeling that this community has a very tight knit bond: aware of their levels of poverty but eager to listen and learn, and with a strong foundation of education the community can have people go onto higher education and earn qualifications for a higher paid job. The spirit and loving in the community put a lot of things into perspective for everyone on the trip and I would urge people to continue to support such a fantastic community climb out of poverty with our help and continue this wonderful partnership for years to come. We can make a real difference.
The next target for the Beyond Cranleigh charity is to raise enough money through child sponsorship to allow the school to be funded for the years to come. If you would like to find out more about the child sponsorship programme, please visit: http://www.beyondourselves.co.uk/sponsor-a-child/complete.
Brad Scriven (Loveday, UVI)