After the team of students on the July trip to Kawama shared the highlights from their trip with the School in a Chapel service, it was full-steam ahead for the group going in October Long Leave. There was a shift in focus for the October trip, with students preparing to teach the children at Kawama Community School in small groups. Consequently, the Cranleigh students spent a good deal of time lesson planning and preparing their own resources to take out to Kawama.
The team also collected 23 huge bags of 2nd hand clothes to sell at the first Kawama Clothes Sale – this event was held while the team were in Zambia, and the local community spent three hours browsing and buying a lot of different items. Altogether the clothes sale raised about £650 – a significant amount of money that will be put towards the construction of a bore hole at the school, which will provide clean water for the surrounding community. More information about what the October team got up to can be found in the blog articles written by the students on the Cranleigh website.
Athina Mitropoulos, Head of Classical Civilisation, was one of the staff members on the trip to Kawama in October.
“I didn’t know what to expect from a few days in Kawama School. I had seen photos and heard stories, but unless you are there – experiencing the heat and dust, the countless smiling faces and waving hands – you have no idea.
The drive into Kawama is certainly an unforgettable experience. The enormous pot-holes which had filled with water from the night’s rainfall made for a bouncy ride, and seeing the different stalls with tomatoes, drying fish and endless barbers introduced us to this different place. The sounds and smiling faces of the children, however, is what I’ll take from that ride. They were literally unable to contain their excitement and were jumping about and running alongside the bus. Never will we experience such a greeting again. Our entrance into Kawama School was similarly overwhelming, as children ran up to and onto us, introducing themselves and wanting to hold our hands or have a cuddle. That moment of entirely mutual joy and kindness was pure and heartwarming.
The interviews and home visits were eye opening. Yes, we saw differences: some very difficult stories and experiences were shared and implied. But there were far more similarities than I expected. Hearing about the children’s favourite subjects and their favourite dishes (often chicken and rice – something I adore!, seeing how much pride mothers had in decorating their houses and hearing how they celebrate birthdays and weddings bridged what I had thought would be a significant gap and brought out the common humanity that we share.
As a teacher, I had been eagerly awaiting the teaching days. I had signed up for the baby and reception class since I thought that would be great fun and different. Slightly apprehensive about the class size and the language barrier, my team was struck by the discipline and enthusiasm that Teacher Florence had created. There was lots of rote learning and songs, as well as an impressive amount of enthusiasm and energy going into the lessons. It was equally incredible seeing the children get involved and progress, and also seeing the Cranleigh pupils rise to the challenge and really give the best of themselves to these few hours. That ultimately is the aim – learning and fulfilment on both sides.
It is hard to sum up my thoughts on Kawama School and Beyond Ourselves. I am impressed by the school’s physical appearance, but I still dreaded the moment of going to the loo. I really enjoyed the nshima, mostly because of the delicious sauce that came with it and eating with your hands, but was deeply saddened to think that this is what people eat all day, every day, and many do not get it more than once a day. I loved playing with the children, picking them up and giving them a cuddle, but came close to tears when I saw the older girls and thought these are their last years of childhood as they are likely to soon get married and have children of their own. The fact that the community ended up paying for their borehole themselves, with Beyond Ourselves merely acting as facilitators by setting up the clothes sale, gives tremendous hope and encouragement, but it also reinforces the long journey left. I guess I left thinking that Kawama School is a work in progress but a work that is in very safe hands both from Beyond Ourselves and from Kawama itself. In the words of the chant, “Mighty mighty Kawama”, it is definitely a happy, enthusiastic, energetic and hopeful place and I loved being a part of it.”
Other Beyond Ourselves Events
The UK-side of the Kawama Krafts social enterprise has had a helping hand from 4 Lower 6th girls this term who have helped with marketing and product selling, including running a stall at a number of school events. They joined a couple of students who had visited Kawama in speaking at the Hertford Youth Conference, where they shared their experience of working in partnership with Beyond Ourselves to support the Kawama community.
Cranleigh also held another ‘Live Below the Line Day’ to raise awareness for those living below the poverty line, especially thinking about what it is like to be a child living in Kawama. A great amount of money was raised for Kawama through students and staff wearing mufti, and we were all challenged to see whether we could survive on more moderate portions of food (all with a Zambian flavour).
Out of the 225 children Cranleigh School have committed to sponsoring at Kawama School, we are still 80 sponsors short. Our aim by the end of the 150th Cranleigh School celebrations is to ensure that we have met our full target of sponsors. If you would like to sponsor one of the children, or simply find out more information, please contact Laura Sturdee (email@example.com) at Cranleigh.