Friday, 8 April 2016

Guest Blog - Mum's First African Adventure

This week my parents have been visiting from the UK. My Dad came to see me in Kaniki last year and wrote a blog post so this year it's my Mum's turn...

At long last I have taken the plunge and travelled to Africa for the first time to visit Ellie in Zambia. Rhi is also here for five months so we have taken the opportunity to have a family holiday for the second week when Rach flies to Livingstone and we will all visit Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls.

Ellie and Rhi with some of the children from Kapumpe

We've spent our first week in Kaniki where we have been able to experience life at Kapumpe School and the Arise project. Having read Ellie’s blogs, it has proved to be just how I imagined. I thought I would mention a few experiences that we've had since being here:

The first one was being driven, thankfully in a 4x4, along the pothole-filled roads to Kaniki Bible School where Kapumpe is situated. I'm told that Zambians drive on the left but it is mainly a case of trying to avoid the potholes which are often not seen until you are nearly in them! I must say that I am very impressed with Ellie, Rosie and Rhi’s driving skills.

One of the many potholes

It has been great to be able to spend time at Kapumpe School, meeting the staff and children who obviously enjoy being there. There is a mix of Zambian and Muzunga (white) teachers who have the challenge of teaching in both English and Bemba, the local language. Ellie gave me the opportunity to help some of the pupils with a phonics lesson which was an experience! Bryan spent one of the mornings here taking photos of each pupil so that we can send them copies at a later date as they have never had photos of themselves.

At the end of each school day a large number of children are taken home by truck – I'm not sure how many managed to fit in but they obviously enjoyed it!

The school bus!

We also accompanied Ellie and Lister on Arise visits, which took us along long dusty roads (with even bigger potholes!) into the heart of Kaniki, to meet some of the guardians in their homes. As Ellie has previously reported, the guardians are so welcoming and were very pleased to see us. We were able to give them some fruit and vegetables that we had bought at a local stall on the roadside.

Fruit and veg stall

One of the homes we visited was the home of the child who I sponsor. He lives with his brother and his grandparents who are his guardians, although his grandmother has had a stroke so they really appreciate the support they get from Arise.

Meeting my sponsor child and his family

The Arise office, which is located next to the school office, is open a few times each week. Guardians can come to collect mealie meal (maize), sugar, salt, soap and/or other items that they need. A lady called Lister works for Arise and is such an asset to the work they do, accompanying staff on visits and communicating with the local people in their own language. She is well respected in the community and often people will call on her for help and advice.

Lister and Ellie

Cooking the nshima
On Tuesday afternoon the school had a meal of nshima with the guardians, to say goodbye to Gemma and Tim who have been working at Kaniki for a number of years and are now moving back home to the UK. Nshima is made with mealie meal and is the staple dish here. We ate it Zambian style by rolling it into small balls with our hand, which can be difficult as it is quite hot, although this doesn't seem to bother the Zambians. You certainly need some muscles to make large quantities of it!

The farewell gathering for Tim and Gemma

As Ellie has already reported, there are regular power cuts here which have fortunately kept to the timetable this week (either 5am - 1pm or 1pm - 9pm). We had dinner by candlelight on Wednesday evening before speaking to Rach and Alison (my sister) on Skype to catch up. I very much appreciate the technology we have which lets us keep in touch so easily. 

It is certainly good to experience first-hand what is happening here and see how Ellie, Rosie, Naomi and the other staff are enabling and encouraging the Zambians they work with, as hopefully, in the long term, they are the people who will be running things here.

I am now looking forward to relaxing and enjoying my holiday next week!

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