Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Day Five

After an exhausting and overwheliming day yesterday, everyone came to the breakfast table refreshed and buzzing with ideas and plans for today.
The ride to school was different kind of excitement with a little less of the unknown facing us. The students were even more excited to see us coming down the road ths morning; perhaps because now we are recognized as friends and a little less alien. Jumping out of the car, the kids were there to greet us, and friendly waves and smiles met us all the way to the staff room.
Had a bit of a wait before our first class, so took the opportunity to visit and play with some of the students. This is one of the areas I have found very different in Zambia--the lack of interaction outside the classroom. The newest discovery of the day was my camera, which attracted piles (literally, kids piling on top of each other) who wanted to be in a picture, and, more importantly, see the end result on the screen. It is difficult to capture "moments" when students rush to pose at the sight of the camera. Many cartwheels were turned and poses made (groups of students showing up at the classroom door) in hopes I would pull out my camera.
Our first team-taught lesson went well. A bit frustrating from my end as both the students and my partner teacher are discoverying this new way of learning and teaching...but, even one new technique used in today's class is progress!
Break time--Kate and I brought our frisbees and paddle ball for the kids and almost had a riot on our hands. The kids were SO pumped to see these things emerge from our bags; they didn't care if they knew what they were or not! We ended up spending a bit of time throwing the frisbee around, and it was dutifully brought back to the staff room at the end of the day by the designated "frisbee monitor".
Watched Kate's P.E. class build a human pyramid--awesome!
Enjoyed a shared lunch with the entire staff, so yum! One of my students brought fresh bush fruit for us to try--an interesting taste of Zambia.
Observed a senior English class and was very proud, for lack of a better word, to see the respect the students have for themselves. Their refusal to sit on the ground so as not to dirty their uniforms reinforced to me what I have continued to witness since being here. That is, despite the amount that the people here lack (from our perspective), they take pride in the lives they live, the things they do have, and the work that they do. Their humble and modest nature commands respect from others, and their potential for greatness is no less than ours. Maybe even more so.
As we waited for the others to arrive after school, we played a rousing game of Duck, Duck, Goose, followed by a similar Zambian game. I think the kids were surprised to see I could run, and their laughter and excitement was just awesome as they watched their teachers finally participate in these games with them.
After our planning sessions were over and we piled into the car, I received a wave and a face--my face--from one of the students. A student has taken to mimicking my facial expressions, and does it so well it's like looking at myself! This was closely followed by students chasing the car, pointing to me, yelling "you!" and then laughing so hard they had to stop running--this all stemming from the games we were playing earlier.
Back at the hotel, Kate and I went for a walk (actually, Sam drove us) into town. As much as we are still spectacles to this community, I felt myself walking down the main street confidently and with direction as part of the community. Since Sam was with us, we were able to venture down into the "market" area of town, which was just amazing to experience.
I'm sure I have missed some details of the day, but there are just too many to include them all. Tomorrow will definitely bring just as much excitement. I'm loving this trip more everyday!

Laura Swan
Massey High School

Day Four - First day in the Classrooms

Kia Ora Everyone,

After an uneasy sleep of waking every hour in fear of being late on our first day in our schools we were finally woken by the infectious laugh of Lyn echoing through the hallways - we were well awake now (ha ha). It was a very spiritual start to the morning as the sounds of the call to prayer from the mosque bellowed through our hotel and it cast a calm sense of serenity for the day ahead.

During breakfast Lyn shared her blog for the day and many laughs were shared by all. Nervous smiles were on our teams faces as we waited for our drivers to take us to our schools - of course we are running on 'Zam'(bia) time and we were anxious to get started.

Finally team Nangoma (Helen Wilson & I) were on the road travelling at 140km weaving through cows, students, workers and farmers - this was scary yet very entertaining. A local group of young men were running along the roadside singing in beautiful harmony for their morning fitness, Helen and I looked at each other and had feeling of excitement build up and then good old Bob Marley came blasting through the radio - we knew it was going to be a great day.

As we turned towards a dirt road we had an off road experience that we would normally have to pay for in New Zealand. Finally we arrived to our respective school and we were met by the School Manager and Staff and then instructed that we would be introducing ourselves in front of approximately 500-600 students (GULP!!!) Nangoma School welcomed us with 3 harmonious songs which welcomed us, preyed for us and wished us luck in our journey - they stressed the point that our visit is truly a blessing. The choir brought tears to our eyes and it was an emotional, overwhelming powerful start to what we know is going to be a life long relationship.

After meeting our teachers we went straight into observations - one lesson was on a Grade 2 lesson for Social Studies learning about 'Zambia' and the importance of their anthem (very patriotic and humbling). The next lesson was a Science lesson Grade 8 about "How much Oxygen is in the Air" and the only resources used were a plastic container,candle and match.Unbelieveably the student understood the concepts and demonstrated their understanding through oral reports.

The main insight today was that regardless of materials. infrastructure, large class sizes (55-75 students) they perservere to achieve the best they can do. They are doing a great job with what they can and their success rates are very high improving from 9% in 2002 to 67% in 2007. An amazing improvement by any educational facility. This school has excellent quality teachers doing their personal best with 1 text book, chalk, 4 tables and no resources or materials. Well done Nangoma - we really don't realise as teachers how lucky we are!

In discussion with the teachers it was great to share experiences of mutual understandings and even more so when you are sitting in a school house with a teacher who has six orphan children plus four of her own planning lessons, making dinner,feeding her 20 chickens, cleaning 8 cats, hosting a stranger whilst breastfeeding!

Everyone was welcoming and to take us to their humble home was an experience I will never forget. As we headed for Makupi school to plan for the next day my peer teachers William told me that tomorrows lesson will be teaching "equatorial rain forests" and Lillian will be teaching "pro-consular Africanus animals" Okay ...gulp..Okay..panic..Okay..breathe. I had to laugh,we then worked together to create a sure fire lesson that involves a lot of fun, group work, and hands on activities. This is very different from the rote learning styles that are evident at the moment.

Working with two teachers from Nangoma who have enthusiasm, insight and the passion to teach is phenomenal to see despite all the previously stated disadvantages.

Helen and I had the best day ever - Proud to being a kiwi, Proud of being Maori, Proud being a teacher and Proud to be a part of this project of development.
This is a small snap shot of the day and this blog will not cover the things I have seen and been a part of but I encourage all that read this to come and see for yourselves "Beautiful Zambia" and make a difference!

Vanessa Te Huia
Rotorua Intermediate School

Day Three

A great nights sleep, left us feeling refreshed and revigorated. However the power went out two minutes into my morning shower and darkness prevailed, whilst I tried to find my way to the door!
Breakfast is always enjoyable at the Kingfisher Lodge in Lusaka!

The group was in high spirits as we headed into the 'Arcades Markets' down the road. Stall owners displayed some beautiful examples of African artistic talent. So much potential on display. A tribute to the artists. We were spoilt for choice, as we weaved our way between all of the wares, bartering constantly. I purchased three sets of drums and different examples of African musical instruments, and hope that customs in New Zealand will enable me to share them with my class! I'm an eternal optimist! I hope Mukupi staff and students teach me how to play them also!

We drove straight to Mumbwa, a two hour journey. John was our trusted driver, and as we sped along, it was interesting to note the changes in the outside environment, as we moved from urban to rural districts, and the homes changed from brick, to clay, to thatched homes the closer we got to Mumbwa. We were all excited about finally getting to see our respective schools, the staff and students, and working in partnership with the community in the classrooms. We stopped briefly in Mumbwa township and then pulled into the carpark of the 'New La Hacienda Hotel'. What a fabulous venue. We all agreed that it was a lovely choice of accomodation with lovely gardens and rooms and even chalets!

We settled in and attended a meeting out on the lawn in the garden area of the Hotel. In attendance was the Area Manager Himonga Mugubo, and James Mulapande the Planning Officer for the District Education Board (Mumbwa), Kelly Kapanga, the District Resource Co-ordinator, Rita Magwenzi the Education Co-ordinator for the Federation, Christabel Musonda the CCF* Education Specialist Co-ordinator based in Lusaka, Sally Hewlett our ChildFund New Zealand Education Programmes Manager, Michelle Chen, CCF* United States Education Associate and the seven of us from respective schools across New Zealand. We all met together for the first time to discuss the way forward across the three rural schools in the Mumbwa District: Shimbizhi, Nangoma and Mukupi. Our previous meeting with Lillian Kapula, the Zambian Permanent Secretary to the Minister of Education, set a high standard for us to continue forward with. She was definitely a 'woman of substance', and the fact that she made time to see our touring party impressed me greatly.

We discussed sustainable teaching practices and future infrustructure changes and learnt about new acronyms like SPRINT-'School Programme Inservice for the term', HIM-'Head Teacher Inservice Meeting', ZEST-'Zonal Education Support Team' and GRE- Great Meetings at the Resource Centre'.

We were informed about the structure of schooling in Zambia, grades, levels and the ages of students, about grants and scholarships and were free to ask questions. I really appreciated Himonga Mugubos honesty and frankness in discussions. He is very open and diplomatic, but answers all questions fully.

It was a very uplifting meeting, in that we were meeting key people and listen to everyones roles, hopes, dreams and aspirations to give us a clearer picture and vision for where we stood in the overall plan.

Later our group headed out for a walk to town and stopped to watch a local soccer game, that impressed us with the levels of fitness, skills and agility that were evident. Our eclectic group walking through town, caused some interesting stares and possibly comments, but on the whole the locals were very friendly.

Dinner and then off to bed, as we had a huge day ahead of us and we were all excited, perhaps a little tentative about the upcoming day ahead of us.
So far Zambia has impressed me as a country of people with potential, who are fiercely proud of their languages, culture and heritage, despite much harshness and adversity for many.

*CCF is part of the ChildFund global family.

Lynne Hoare
Teacher at Northcross Intermediate School

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Day Two

Yay for a good night's sleep! We woke up having slept really well...or at least most of us did.

We took the opportunity this morning to go for a bit of a wander through the neighbourhood. Kate has been unwell for a few days, so while she went off to a local clinic we escaped the compound!! This was our first opportunity really to meet the local Zambians not involved with Childfund - and it really brought home some of the realities of life in Zambia.
The most obvious feature was the division of wealth in the country, and I think Lusaka is a prime example of this. The distinction between those that have and those that have nothing is huge. We passed small roadside stalls selling tiny packets of sugar, mealie-meal, kapenta, peanuts and sweets. This seems to be the livelihood for many. Handing over K100 or K200 for a bag of peanuts and knowing how worthless that money is, yet seeing it so gratefully received by the stallholders was heart wrenching. (The exchange rate at the moment is 3,500 kwacha for US$1) A bag of peanuts is less than 10c!!
For all of us, I'm sure, the most heartbreaking aspect was the number of small children "manning" the stalls and depending on them for their existence.
The highlight of our meander through the streets was Helen playing the Zambian version of draughts with the man on the corner, and Karlene getting her first taste of sugar cane.

The welcome news that all was well with Kate meant that we could head off to the local curios market. The cry of "Please Madam, buy from me, let me show you what I have...I want to eat lunch today" sucked us all in from the start, and we bought a wide range of gifts and mementoes. The Women's Collective was particularly impressive, and their stalls of chitenge and jewellery were ransacked by us all!
Ness bought the children in the vicinity an icecream-the number swelled to 25 in the matter of one minute, with children scaling walls and coming from all corners of the market at the first sniff of icecream!

We arrived at Mundawanga (meaning "my garden") in time for the feeding of the animals. In the heat of the day we wandered through the park seeig the mongoose, bushpigs, lions and cheetahs being fed. My personal highlight was seeing the African Wild Dogs up close and personal. Even better though, was taking refuge in the cool and peace of the Botanical Gardens; lots of water and huge shady trees was a welcome relief frmo the heat.

The overwhelming feature for me today was the memories that came back from my previous time in Zambia. The dichotomy of rich and poor here is really obvious even to the casual observer. And of course I can't sign off without reiterating the friendliness and welcoming nature of the local Zambians, despite the hardships they face.

Helen Chileshe
Christ's College

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Day One

As a team we went to the CCF* (ChildFund) office in Lusaka and meet with CCF . We also met the National director of CCF in Zambia Victor Koyi. What an amazing man. Incredibly passionate about CCF and what they are doing to help children and people here in Zambia. He gave a brief insite into the education system in Zambia and what CCF's role is in helping to promote quality education. He stressed the importance of improving teacher resources, improving the infrastructure and ensuring that the teachers are delivery a quality education. He metioned that attendance had improved in schools from 65% to 90%, however there are needs to improve the infrastructure to cope with the influx. The Zambian government is recruiting 10,000 teachers a year this is partly because of the need for teachers with role increases and the aids pandemic which has had a hugh impact on teachers.

Interesting facts:
  • Govt only spends 15% of budget on education needs to increase to 20% to make a difference.
  • Teacher salary $250 US a month.
The team met Lillian Kapula the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Education in Zambia. This woman made a real impact on me personally. She has amazing passion and she understands the needs for education reform. She also understands the need for a NOW approach. She is an action woman, and she took time from her incredibly busy schedule to see us. However she was so appreciative that we had come all the way from NZ to make a difference to a child in Zambia. Especially the Mumbwa district where the need is great. She stressed to us " Embrace the challenge and show your colleagues some comfort". She knows that we can't change things immediately but we can make a difference in the children's and teacher's lives. Through her leadership and reform she plans to scale the heights of education during this difficult time and she is proud to do it. Lillian stressed to us that her action plan included the need to increase the contact time between students and teachers through reducing class sizes. She is a woman of substance.

*CCF Zambia is part of the ChildFund global family

Helen Wilson
Rotorua Intermediate School

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Zambia Bound!

As our group of teachers here madly rush around to get their last pieces packed, we take a look at some of the amazing items they are trying to squeeze in to their bags.

Karlene from Whitianga has netball uniforms and soccer balls donated by the community, Helen from Christchurch has a bunch of resources donated from her middle school, lots of kids toys and reading material from the Rotorua ladies (Helen and Vanessa), just to name a few. Not a lot of room for clothes...

The response from the communities have been fantastic already, and a huge thanks to the schools, friends and families for their support so far.

There is a lot of excitement (perhaps a bit of nervousness too!!) from our group, and we can't wait to tell you all about Mumbwa and the schools and new friends we are going to know so well in just under two weeks time.

Watch this space and wish us luck!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Pre Zambia with ChildFund-Lynne Hoare Tuesday 22nd April 2008

Kia ora everyone

Zambia in 2 sleeps! It seems surreal. I have a lot to organise before I go. We travel as a group from Thursday 24th April to Saturday May 3rd 2008. This will be my first trip to Africa. Its exciting. I have packed my bags, but I had better make sure I am travelling reasonably 'light'. Personally I have lost almost 16 kgs in weight with 'Sureslim' in New Zealand, so that might help! I must remember to take my malaria tablets today! Also, remember to leave information etc and a check list of things to do for my daughters Jade and Jasmine! Tell my neighbours too!

My class, Rm 38 from Northcross Intermediate in Browns Bay, have given me some excellent bits and pieces to take to Zambia. Because it is landlocked in Southern Africa we have laminated lots of pictures of water and the sea in New Zealand to share with the students, teachers and schools. Plus I have a large stuffed bright orange, blackand white 'Nemo'(fish)....toy, not real, and a Winnie the Pooh and miniature pairs of jandals, knuckle bones, packs of cards and frisbees etc!

I need to get my profile organised also, so I can email information out to friends, family etc.

Cheers everyone.Cant wait to go!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Two weeks to go!

In two weeks today, our group of 8 will be making there way to the airport, to depart on the inaugural Global Schools Programme to Zambia. What thoughts do the group have at this stage - excitement? Nervousness? Both?
Watch this spot for the daily blog from the teachers as we discover the realities of life in Mumbwa, Zambia and what it is like to be a teacher in Mukupi, Shimbizhi or Nangoma schools।