Friday, July 17, 2009

Time to say goodbye

10 wonderful days under the African sky has come to an end. After breakfast we went to the National ChildFund office in Lusaka to share our experiences with the Zambian team.

We went over our teaching tales looking at both the positive experiences we had as well as at recognising some of the challenges faced by the schools we partnered with. Despite the holes in the walls of the classrooms and the lack of resources, these teachers are able to deliver high quality lessons to the children. However, the challenges are many and it is a privilege to know that we are working towards improving the teaching and learning of the children and teachers we have come to known and love. It was nice to share our experiences with National office so they could too understand the challenges faced by the schools.

For the last time we were driven to the airport by our faithful and reliable Sam and Godfrey and it was now time to say our last goodbyes. It seems like such a long time has passed since we first met and have shared tears, laughter, pains, upset tummies and joy. How close we have all become!

Elzette Etsebeth

Reflections of the last day in school from the whole team

Am lost for words to describe the whole experience and the emotions of saying goodbye to a school and children we had grown to love so much.


Laughing and crying with newly made friends, enjoying the singing and dancing with sadness and gladness.


It's always hard to say goodbye to newly formed relationships. Not only has today been extraordinary but the whole experience just being here and being part of all the wonderful culture has been out of this world. I will never forget this or all the new family I have come to meet and love. Memories are forever. Thanks for the experience, Sally.


Smiles, laughter, hugs, songs, tears, farewells. These days, these children and our partners will remain deep in our hearts for the rest of our lives. Ka kite ano, Kawama.


A piece of my heart remains forever at Mwiimbi School.


I now have two schools ~ Glenfield Intermediate School and Kawama
School. I will miss the beautiful children and people I have met - my heart will remain in Zambia long after I have left.


I was amazed how attached I became to the students of Mutombe School in such a short time, but I guess that is a reflection of the warmth, charm and hearts of the Zambian children.


A joyful and musical climax to a unique experience that I will treasure forever. Africa got soul, baby!!


The last day was full of laughter with the farewell we were given at Mwiimbi School. I will miss the students and their smiles. This experience will be always remembered and treasured.


It is a privelege to be surrounded by such a passionate group of teachers and personalities from different parts of the world. The realisation that despite the miles, environments and cultures, the basic love for teaching and working towards building up educated and confident children is overwhelming. I thank each and every person involved for making this such a special experience and beginning of long lasting friendships and partnerships.


"We are family...."

"Give us joy in our hearts, keep us singing!"

Wednesday dawned and it was the penultimate day in our schools. The realisation that things were coming to an end culminated in our final planning meeting held at Mutombe School. Sally didn't disappoint us and had another wonderful activity up her sweaty sleeve! This involved talking about our experiences and what we gained from this experience and where to next. We were delighted to listen to the reflections of the Zambian teachers who told us how much the partnership had enriched the teaching in their classrooms and the overall atmosphere of the school. It was recognised that both groups learnt a lot from each other and to say that the experience was rewarding would be an understatement. Warner and Elzette's words encapsulated the sentiments of the group as a whole and emotions were running high. They commented on the dedication and passion of the Zambian teachers and their ability to teach quality lessons in a near resourceless environment. We concluded that really our styles of teaching are similar and it was an honour to come in and help fine tune the methods being used. This has been a great launch pad to identify areas for future development and it is wonderful to realise our fundraising is going to now put this group of teachers through a year of formal training to further hone their skills.

That night we had a tremendous surprise in store for us back at the New La Hacienda. Humphrey had secretly organised for our last evening a night of food, dance and laughter. We had a troop of dancers perform for us while we had a delicious last meal and then it was all on for young and old. Holly started the proceedings off by eagerly jumping up to join in the dancing and showing she has the hip action of the Zambians down pat! By the end of the night the whole group had gotten their groove on in true Zambian style and euphoria filled the air.
We were presented with absolutely beautiful chitenge (a traditional Zambian sarong) which we wore for the dancing which made us truly feel like real Zambians. The evening also included some moving speeches from all parties and by the end of the evening we all felt like one big happy family!

Thanks everyone, it was a wonderful night!

Holly, Sally and Sonia.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Things are heating up!

It was said that it would reach 30 degrees today and we well and truly hit the prediction with the outside temperature on the wagon reading 32. It was another beautiful day in Zambia with a gorgeous sunrise to start the trek to school and sunset on the way back to the lodge.
Exciting day for the team – we were all up and not running today. I was excited to get back to school and get involved with the teaching and learning at Mwiimbi and it’s school life.
The day started with a Science and English lesson. Science is definitely a challenge to teach here without all the resources we have at home. English, well there was laughter, and the laughter was at my expense – with learning meanings and how to pronounce new words, I was called upon and to chip in and pronounce the words myself – and with our accent it ended in laughter. Mathematics had me teaching a short cut in standard form and Sally finishing the lesson with a team competition. It was a fun filled lesson which Kafuko thoroughly enjoyed.
Sally had the students singing at breaktime and the classes where filled with the sweet voices of Deb’s class as she was teaching her students the New Zealand national anthem. Their voices are voices of angels when they sing.
We met at Kawama school for tomorrows planning and the sadly the emotions of the thought of soon having to say goodbye are starting to surface as the time with the schools are coming to an end. The next two days I’m sure with see as much packed in as possible and many Kodak moments to come to capture and memories to collect and to share back home.

Cheryl McCabe

Monday, July 13, 2009

Up and Running!

The first day of our last week, and mixed feelings and mixed-up tummies are running havoc! We are enjoying the sun, the students, and each other but we are also starting to miss home. However, we are forming wonderful friendships that could last for many years to come.

Apart from the fun and the run(s), we are actually teaching and today was a mix of teaching civics, geography, religious studies, linear equations, teaching of the letter g, counting, number identification, gymnastics and addition to name a few.

The planning sessions generates marvellous discussions and we are even starting to enjoy the lovely Honey Bunny’s interactive activities at the end of the sessions.

Yes, the roads are bumpy, the trips are dusty and the journeys long, but in our hearts there still is a song as we are privileged and honoured to be working alongside the most amazing educators - a people of hope, of strength, of joy, of zeal and passion. And we, we are just….humbled.

Elzette Etsebeth

Muzungus among the angels

After a late night home Saturday we mostly enjoyed a sleep in (lets face it anything past 5.30am is a sleep in at the moment!) until around 8am. After breakfast we organised to split into two groups and head off to some local Churches for morning service. I was fortunate enough to join the group that were heading off with Humphrey and Godfrey to their local Catholic church. Humphrey had assured us that there was singing and dancing at 'his' Catholic church, but I admit I thought it was just that dry sense of humour of his at work again! but true to his word ~ singing and dancing we got!!

We were ushered in and settled into a seat and then the service began, all in the local dialect no less! I have to admit that I haven't been to church in a wee while but when the choir started singing and then the whole congregation joined in I discovered that it is easy to feel close to God when you are surrounded by the voices of angels. Tu Meke! Really quite indescribable so I won't even try but suffice to say this was definitely up there with my trip highlights.

After the service and meeting many of the locals we met the Catholic priest who was from Poland originally but has lived in Zambia for the past 19 years (the best of his life he says :)). His first comment on meeting us was "It is nice to not be the only white face in church!" He invited us back to his house for cokes and a chat which was really nice. It turns out he and his brother were ordained by John Paul II!

It was a fantastic experience and I will never forget being a Muzungu among the angels.

Sonia Youle

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Boogie night and bumpy day

After a full and exciting week it was time to take off our teaching hats and put on our boogie shoes. As tired as we all were we managed to have our first cold one. By the second one you could see body movements starting to emerge.

After the third tantalizing drink we were all in full swing. Some of us had dancing partners and some of us just looked in amazement at the unique dance movements the locals were displaying.

As the night rolled on we found there was a champion amongst us who captured the attention of all the locals. Potting down the balls one by one Sally managed to clean the table with one clean sweep. Everyone was in an uproar.

As you do when you’ve had one too many you need to visit the wonderful loo. Wow! how honored was I to find a loo with my name on it. I can’t remember how many times I blessed it, but I can tell you one thing, this will be one loo I will never forget.

Waking up with a slight headache from the night before, we headed off to Kafue Safari Park. Our bumpy journey started off with an attack of the local flies. Luckily for us we had a professional pest control person in the back of our trusty four wheel drive.

As we journeyed further into the park we came across the most amazing animals, and although it took along time to spot the ones we wanted to see (elephants, lions, giraffes)
I think people were starting to hallucinate, therefore logs turned into cute little animals and Impala’s turned into lions. All in all it was the most fascinating experience that ended with a beautiful sunset and a family of elephants.

Julie Paerau

A day in the life

Picture this: whipped up by the cold winter wind, fine red dust billows through the large, open doorway. Children and teachers alike shield their faces and then brush off their tattered books. As Madame Namunwa raises her voice to address the class, the children squash together on logs polished by years of diligent use. The walls are bare; old paint has worn off the weathered clay and the blackboard stands alone as a useable surface.
Now picture this: a small group of children pull their logs up close to Madame Namunwa; she is teaching fractions and eager minds engage with strategies and methods. In other corners of the room, group’s complete independent work from the board and outside, another group is clustered around Madame Sue’s times tables chart, improving their basic facts knowledge.
Even here, in such difficult circumstances, quality learning is taking place and children are being equipped to change their future.
What a joy and privilege it is to be part of Kawama Basic School.

Sue Smith

Things are loosening up....

Thursday was our second day at the schools. For some like Deborah and Sue nerves had begun to dissipate in tandem with newness of it all. For others, such as Sonia and Bridget, nerves had mounted as the reality of the undertaking was becoming more apparent. For others, like Warner and Elzette, the excitement and enjoyment of it all had simply crystalised and hardened after our first day: an appetite that grows after first bite. And me? I was still pretty overwhelmed and was trying my best to rationalize my fears and soothe my worries. I was grateful for the long ride to school: it gave me time to think and prepare.
Some of us taught, some of us observed. Elzette was the ultimate swimmer when thrown in at the deep end and asked to teach maths and English to grade 9. Warner ‘boggled’ his students (literally) with word games, Deborah was in awe of her partner teacher’s ability of such challenging circumstances and I learned about the external parts of a fish in a grade 6 science lesson: there are 3 types of fins apparently! Even Sally tried her hand at teaching English to grade 7 albeit quite unexpectantly, but all great leaders lead by example – what a perfect role model!
After a lunch of chicken, cabbage and Nshima (google it!) we finally assembled at Mwembezhi School for our first planning session. It was quite special to meet the other teachers and to be able to put faces to names. As a closing activity, we each had to sum up our day in one word: fun, challenging, interesting, insightful, inspiring, wonderful. Not bad, eh?
After jump starting one of the vehicles again (by now quite a normality) we gathered ourselves and headed back to Mumbwa and thus commenced the demise of Cheryl and myself. As others, though tired and weary, prepared to have dinner before turning in for the night, for us the stomach gurgling and bowel twitching was just beginning.
Welcome diarrhoea. Please leave your dignity at the door.
Is it too late to change my word for the day?

Holly Norton

Thursday, July 9, 2009

First Day in School...

Today we had our first experience of rural Zambia at our partner schools & meeting our partner teachers. Everyone had totally different experiences and so we have all written a brief quote describing our first impressions...

"It's not just a different countries culture, it's a different classroom culture."

"What awesome singers the children are. No need for instruments, just their beautiful voices."

"Watched netball and soccer (football) - conditions basic, to say the least, but some of the skills - amazing!"

"feelings of anxiousness, excitement and bewilderment at the state of the school, but humbled by the obvious pride in the school and the pleasure to be there teaching and learning."

"Red dust sweeps through open doorways, settling on books & children."

"Life is not about having things, it's about doing things."

"The day started off quite slow with fuel problems however we all got to the schools. Teachers and Children were all braving the cold!"

"This is the day that the lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

I truley believe these quotes from us all show the many different experiences and emotions felt but each of us as we experienced the real reason we are here. After our initial observations we are brimming with enthusiasm to get into the nitty gritty of teaching.

As well as visits to the schools, we had the pleasure of meeting the district commissioner, his quote of the day - "I am the eyes and the ears of the President." He was a very charismatic and humourous man.
We also paid a visit to the Ministry of Education's District Boards, unfortunatly there was no one available to speak to us but we are hoping we will have another chance before leaving.

Bridget Plowman

First Day in Mumbwa

Our first day in Mumbwa began with the usual review of the previous nights sleep, or in this case, lack of, due largely carcophany of loud music, the clanking of bottles and raucous voices as the annual national holiday of Heroes and Unity was celebrated in style outside our windows.
Holly appeared at breakfast looking like a spotty teenager courtesy of a friendly mosquito. Julie didn't appear to be worse for the wear having wrestled her mosquito net to the floor in the middle of the night with a crash that had her roommate, Sonia, convinced that an intruder was smashing his way into their room.
Anyway, after a full breakfast we set out for Mukambi Lodge. A feature of our journey there was Holly's claim to be the first one of our party to leave her mark, so to speak, in the African bush. There was initial fear that a snake or similar predator might strike at a vulnerable moment. However, our guardian angel, Christabel, stood guard and no such moment came to pass.
The day was spent viewing game, including elephant, kudu, zebra, wilderbeest, waterhog and impala. We also went for a cruise on Kafue river viewing crocodile. We had the benefit of a very knowledgable guide whose observations on the African sausage tree were particularly entertaining. As the myth goes, when a man partakes of the juice of the fruit, this can lead to growth of which a man can be mightily proud, if you catch my drift. However, he assured that from personal experience it remains purely a myth.
At the end of a most enjoyable day our group returned to our lodgings a little on the tired side but champing at the bit in anticipation of seeing our schools for the first time the next day.

Reverand Warner Wilder

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Mervis welcomed us to Suwilanji Gardens (aka wedding central) with open arms. She smiled at us, laughed with us and sang to us. Mervis has the voice of an angel. She shares her humble two roomed home with her brother, two sisters and two cousins. Mervis takes care of them all. She is good at her job, along with Moses they run the hotel. Mervis works all hours of the day and night for $180 a month. We look forward to seeing her before we head for home.

We travelled to Mumbwa, down a long straight road built by the Chinese government. It was national heroes and unity day. La Hacienda, our home away from home, was hosting 'Miss National Heroes and Unity Day' that night. We rolled into town, shattered after our epic journey, just in time for the party to begin. Welcome to Zambia!

Deborah Lean

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The time has come....we're off to Zambia!

At 5.50am, some of depart from Auckland, some Wellington and some Christchurch to meet in Sydney and fly to Johannesburg (14 and half hours!). There we will meet Elzette and continue on to Lusaka. To the hotel where we will find Warner, who has been there exploring for the last few days. And only then will the whole group be together and ready for the adventure to begin.....

This will be the place to check for the next two weeks for a daily update on the visit. Different members of the team will take turns to post the daily blog and share their day, joys, descriptions and impressions with you so please keep checking! At the bottom of each post, there is a place to post a comment - so please do! If you have any questions or comments, ask away and we will get back to you with an answer the following day.

So for now...farewell and see you in Zambia!