Friday, May 2, 2008

Day Seven

The sleep disturbing call to prayer was missed by me this morning. When I pried open my eyes and peered at my watch I noticed it was 5:30am. Five minutes too late foe the mosque. (Yep its Karlene here) The routine is the same for all of of us on day four of teaching. Breakfast together, squeeze into gthe four wheeled drive vehicle for the bump and grind of of the road to Shimbezhi. This morning however, as we unfolded from the car as Sally quietly announced "You're on!" ( a referemce to our waiting, adoring crowds of students) there was a realisation that all was different today. Every event was slowing down, every sight was savoured. THis is the last day.

The first lesson was a quick introduction to Grade 11 Geography as Chilemboy roped me into a lesson spur of the moment like. I learnt some, but I really domt know about the pupils. I dont think my improvised graphic interpretation of the seven factors affecting temperature really cut the mustard! Im sure Chilemboye ensured the lesson wasnt totally ruined by giving the now expected 15 minute energetic lecture punctuated occasionally with the call " Are we Together? Yes!" I escaped as I had a treasure hunt to for the ext lesson to prepare so I was OUT, however it didnt take a rocket scientest to work out that if I went traipsing around the school hiding my answers and clues the little ones would form an instant throng follow and ruin the game, so I enlisted the help of a grade 11 or two. After concern from Edwin and the students, all went well. Slight hiccup from the over-zealous hiding of the clues, but all resolved and yeah - the kids did seem to learn.

My hat goes off to the courage shown by the staff and students alike who are involved in this programme. As we all know it is scary to let go of the old and try the new when it comes to education.

After working with my favourite kids, the grade 2's, in particular my friends Alex, Given and Gift, Frida took us to show us her home, give us bikkies and juice and I finally got my hair braided. No time for my original hairstyle dreams, but I was so grateful in the end and I am really pleased with the result. They wouldn't accept my money so I paid with teddy bears for the children and they were delighted.

After sharing another nutritious meal of 'nshima' with the staff, and delighted over the head teacher's home-made doughnuts, it was the time we all dreaded - farewell time. The children sang and danced and as they sang a farewell for each of us, I felt the tears start pricking my eyes. They harmonised as the lamented 'although we are so far away, we will never forget you'. And Madam 'Karene', Madam 'Katie' and Madam 'Lola' all squeezed the lump in our throats and let the tears run.

I know I will never forget the resonating sound of the singing, the delightful smiles, the harrowing faces of sick, lost looking children, and the warmth with which we have been welcomed by staff and children alike. To bring laughter and games into their lives and be a part of their dusty day has been an amazing experience.

After farewells at Mukupi, my partner teachers overwhelmed me with their generousity. I was laden with gifts; art, baskets, hand-made crafts - it had obviously taken time and effort. To be given a walking stick, I have since been informed by Sally, is a huge honour and I am overwhlemed. To be given a symbol of ongoing support from such an inspirational woman needs no words.
I know I for one have made friends that I will actually make the effort to keep in touch with.

As with every day in Zambia it felt like we were experiencing three days in one. The beauty of the sunset and it's rich warm red colours as it set behind villages and their evening fires on the way home was a highlight. No camera could do it justice.

Then to get back to the hotel, to the sights and sounds of a party was almost too much to take. We were treated to professional dancing and drama from a local group by the Mumbwa Children's Development Agency - our CCF partners in Mumbwa. They also gave us a surprise gift (again overwhelmed) -a gorgeous chitenge and shirt.

I went to sleep listening to the drums of Zambia and the raucous laughter of the New Zealand team. I felt a smile in my heart that spread to my face. You go girls!

Karlene Robottom
Mercury Bay Area School

Day Six

Hi everyone,

Well, morning came too quickly for us! Laura and I groggily got up and rushed to get ready for breakfast on time. We shouldn't have been too concerned because, after all, we are working on Zamtime :) I think the others were starting to feel more comfortable with what to expect for the day. Last night there were some good teaching strategies coming out and I think we all enjoyed reflecting and sharing ideas over a Mosi or two.

Starting another busy day, we crowded ten into our car built for seven and sped at 160km towards Shimbizhi. I was worried that we were going to be late, but once again, Zamtime was in our favour!

As we drove into school, crowds of children waved and some ran along behind the truck. I think they're getting used to us. Laura immediately began to look for the girl with her face and then it was time for class.

I was teaching the grade eleven's adjectives and had brought along a selection of
objects to appeal to their senses. Laura, Rita, Michelle and a few others came to observe. I only realised how much this adult presence overwhelmed the students when the adults left halfway through the lesson. Suddenly, the students opened up and even began to joke around with one another!

Georgina, the principal of the school, was observing some lessons today. I know I'm not alone in saying I felt really nervous. I also had the priveledge of watching Laura teach a lesson today. She was very energetic and the students enjoyed learning from her.

During what was meant to be a break, I was bombarded with questions about religion, education and marriage from the other teachers. I left the staffroom with my head swimming!

Lunch was another interesting adventure. We had the usual nshima and spinach, but our protein today consisted of deep fried whole fish--we're talking heads, eyes-the works! As we decided how to eat this quickly and without pulling faces, Jones came up to offer us some more. I quickly pawned one off on Laura and told Jones I was full of nshima! Laura glared at me, kind of laughed, called me a jerk and glared some more. As I laughed at my success in avoiding more fish, she threw some of hers onto my plate. Zammit!!

I'm still amazed by the strength and determination that defines this school. In the heat of the day, with flies buzzing, a desperate need for water and limited resources with which to teach, it would be so easy to turn your back on all of it and just stop coming to school. In these exact conditions, I see people who believe in the possibility of better things, and who arrive to school each day in search of the education they deserve.

When I arrive back in NZ I will do my best to tell their stories.

Kate Findley
Reporoa College