Three weeks in and flying high!

Week 3 on the Book Bus. Although the temperature continues to reach the top 20s during the day, it drops quickly after sunset and overnight it has become distinctly chilly in the tent. Typically it is about 12 degrees when we stagger across to the shower block and get breakfast but by the time we reach our school of the day it’s nicely simmering!

On Monday we returned to the Linda School, for our third visit, and the children now know us and greet us like old friends, which is really nice. In each of our schools we are usually working with children from grade 4 to Grade 7 i.e. between 7/8 and 14/16 years old. We take the same groups on each visit so that we can build up a rapport with the youngsters. Some of the older children are really chatty and quite good fun. The boys , and quite a few girls, love browsing through the football magazines that I always carry aroundas a stand by.  

Tuesday saw us at Nakatindi School, their first visit from the bus this season. This school is in a poor area and the children were quite demanding in terms of both their reading and behaviour! They have very little in terms of possessions and are constantly asking for pens, paper, stickers, etc. However if we give to one we have to give to all, or we would have a riot on our hands! There was also no shade at Nakatindi and a few of us were feeling the effects of the sun after 4 hours out in the open. To top it all the bus broke down on the way back to camp and we had to flag down a couple of taxis.

Today we had our first experience of a government school. The Libala School is fee paying and located in a more well heeled part of Livingstone. All the teachers are qualified and the atmosphere was quite purposeful. Other than the staffing, it is only slightly better resourced than the community schools.

Schools are responsible for their own cleaning and caretaking. When we arrived at Libala the pupils were busy brushing out their classrooms and watering the school garden. A couple of parent volunteers were cleaning out the toilets, which for the first time this week were western style. Usually it’s just a hole in the ground so we avoid having to use them!

 The children also told us that when they go home they have to wash their own school uniform. They were amazed that children in the UK aren’t required to do similar chores at school and in the home. I wonder who has got it right? I remember being criticized at Naunton Park when I suggested Y6 pupils might wipe down the canteen tables!

A group of 14/15 year old boys who were footbll mad asked me if I could take a football for them next week. They considered themselves the best players in the school and wanted it for themselves, “not the other lazy chickens!”. I explained that I could not promise anything but if we did provide a ball it would have to be shared. They told me that  they usually play with a plastic bag stuffed with rags and paper. I did see another group with a plastic ball at breaktime enjoying an impromptu kick about, bare foot!  

After work  yesterday, I had an expensive but amazing experience that I had been looking forward to since I arrived in Livingstone. I took a 30 minute microlight flight over Victoria Falls and the adjacent national park area. The adrenalin was pumping a bit as we veered over the lip of the falls and the enormity of this natural wonder could be seen its entirety. There was a marvelous rainbow caused by the late afternoon sun against the water and spray.

We dropped to a lower level on our return to the air strip and I was able to see hippos, elephants, zebra, wildebeast, a crocodile and impala as we flew over the river Zambezi and the adjacent national park. A camera was fitted to the lower wing of the microlight and I now have a CD of wonderful photographs as a memento of the occasion.

2 Responses

  1. Hi Phil
    You seem to be getting used to the life out there and taking things in your stride!
    What a fantastic sight the Falls must be from the vantage point of a microlight – something I guess you will never forget. Also to see such amazing wildlife ‘in the flesh’ as it were; I can only envy you.
    Back in the world I live in, I’m sure you must be getting updates about sporting matters, but if you’re not:
    Billy is having showdown talks with Doughty on Friday.
    Notts C.C. have won all four County matches so far this season (inc an innings defeat of Durham who had not lost since August 08!).
    Magpies manager is having talks with Coventry.
    Talk to you soon.

    • Hi Bob
      Glad you’re still following proceedings. It’s quite exhausting at times, particularly given the temperatures we are working in but I’m making the most of my down time – we only pass this way once!
      Thanks for the sports update. Hope Billy sticks with us. Also heard England thrashed the Aussies in the final of World 20/20 – amazing, what is going on?

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