Eimear Martin Suas Volunteer Programme, Zambia, 2017

The Team

The team on arrival in Zambia about to embark on six incredible weeks together in the small town of Kabwe.

For our placement our team was divided into three different schools. Ben Kapufi, St. Mary's and Caleb a school for children with autism. I spent my time teaching in Ben Kapufi, a happy place where the children of the Bwatcha community spent their days at school, learning, tending to the garden and playing in the field outside the school in the afternoons.

Ben Kapufi

Myself and Aoife worked together as teaching partners after we had built a relationship with the pupils and teachers in our own classes. We spent half of our time with Aoife's lively Grade 3 class and the very easy going Mrs. Phiri and the other half of the time was spent with Madame Sakala and the Grade 2's who were always curious about our new lessons.

Grade 2's posing for the camera infront of their beautiful butterflies
Grade 3's in Action (as per usual)
During our placement we taught the children a variety of lessons which often included songs, games and stories, as well as arts and crafts to decorate the walls. It wouldn't be surprising to hear a few renditions of Molly Malone through the walls of Ben Kapufi! These types of interactive lessons were very unusual for the children and so the children and teachers were always very excited and engaged by them. We also held after school sessions for some of the children. During this time we went back to basics and taught the children the A,B,C's. I have to say it's a good day when a child can say A is for Apple!
"We've got the whole world in our hands"...

The Incredible Staff

Homemade Nshima in school with the staff! Mmmmm... Delicious.......
The staff in Ben Kapufi are definitely some of the most welcoming people. They really made us feel at home there (they even let Aoife have a nap in the staffroom...). The staff always wanted to hear all about our culture and in return they showed us aspects of theirs. WhatsApp is very popular in Kabwe so don't be surprised by weekend calls from some fellow teachers!
Kabwe Sunrise during the school run at 6.30am

Visiting Makalulu

During our stay in Kabwe we lived very close to the slum area of Makalulu. One day we went to visit a new school being built there by another organisation where we spent some humbling moments with the children from the community who I have to say almost followed us... the whole way home!

Down Time

Our evenings generally consisted of a walk to Kabwe town, to Shoprite to get the water and TopDeck (a must try chocolate) for the house. We went for family Zumba sessions to HerSpace gym too where we made the instructor laugh every Tuesday and Thursday with our energetic attempts to follow her moves to Despacito. After that, it was home for dinner, lesson plans, more dancing and a game of cards before bed.
It's The Weekend...

Zambi-ambia eh eh...

On the weekends we were lucky enough to get to explore some of Zambia's wonders. We visited the capital city Lusaka where as part of Global Perspectives week we got to meet the Irish Ambassador to discuss education in Kabwe and we got to visit an Albino clinic. There we got to hear personal accounts from some people living with Albinism in Zambia and what it's like. We also got to visit one of the seven natural wonders of the world Victoria Falls which was amazing!! With long bus journeys in between we saw different aspects of life in Zambia along the road. Mr. Chumbwa our very friendly, and unassuming bus driver always made the road trips more thrilling with his driving. He loved to come along for the journey (featured below in black and white) and even named his new born daughter Aoife after his interactions with the three lovely Irish Aoife's he met during our trip.

Experiencing the culture
From local food, dance and clothing we really got familiar with the Kabwe staples. We wore a chitenge to school everyday which the teachers often told us we were tying incorrectly, we ate African polony and local sweet potatoes. Not quite sweet potato fries but definitely worth a try!
Irish Day in Ben Kapufi
One of the most memorable days we had in Ben Kapufi was Irish Day. Children and teachers got to experience hurling, some Irish dancing and some basic versions of "Oró Sé do Bheatha Bhaile" and "Oggy, Oggy, Oggy... Oi, Oi, Oi." We even supplied some homemade Apple Tarts and Brown Bread made using Granny's recipes and Zambian apples.

Slán go Foill

Applications for the Suas Volunteer Programme 2018 are now open. Join the Suas family! Make a difference! It's worth it!

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