Team Bwacha was made up of myself and 11 inspiring women, we lived together in the beautiful village of Kabwe, Zambia for 8 weeks. Even though everyone on the team had different personalities, it didn’t take long for us to find our rhythm and we were soon acting like we knew each other our whole lives.
Our team was split between two schools, Hope community and Ben Kapufi. Myself, Anna, Aoife, Sadhbh and Erin were placed in Hope community. This was the first year Suas volunteers had worked in the Hope school so neither the students, teachers or even ourselves knew what to expect. The school consisted of three classrooms and myself and my teaching partner Sadhbh had the pleasure of teaching grade 6. When we walked into our classroom on the first day of placement, I can still remember how quiet they were. We started with a classroom filled with 48 students who barely said a word but after about a week and a half we had almost 70 students who would sing so loud that the principal would sometimes come in to see what was going on.
It’s hard to put into words the effect that this group of people have had on me. No words that I use can put justice to the struggles that these children face on a daily basis. However, despite everything that they are going through they come to school everyday with the best attitude and the biggest smiles. I went to Zambia to teach but these people taught me a lot more than I taught them.
Everyday at school at around 10am, a woman and her twin daughters who were two years old would come to the school to sell popcorn and biscuits to the students. The twins were called Rachel and Rebecca and at break time we would sit with them while their mother would talk to the students about their day at school. Some of the students would gather round beside us and they would try to teach us Bemba and laugh hysterically when we tried and failed to repeat what they were saying.
The hand-print tree that students from both grade 6 and 5 made
Our Free Time
After school we would come home make dinner and lesson plan for the next day of school. We would all sit on the floor in the house while lesson planning and compare our stories from the day at school. There was never a day when someone didn’t have a story to tell.
Sometimes we got lazy and just brought home pizza for dinner
We tried to make the most of our weekends. We travelled to Livingstone one weekend, which was eventful to say the least. Our weekend was off to a bad start when our bus crashed and we were stranded on the road for an hour or so, however we got another bus and after 14 hours we arrived in Livingstone to find out that our accommodation had been double-booked. Then our amazing bus driver started to drive us round to different hostels until we found one that would take us. Thankfully the rest of the weekend was so amazing that we soon forgot about what had happened. We travelled to Botswana to go on an overnight safari, where we fell asleep to the sound of a Lion’s roar. It was breath-taking!
On our way back from safari we stopped at Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world
Volunteering is at the very core of being a human being. No one has made it through life without someone else’s help. No one can do everything but everyone can do something.
If you are interested in volunteering and want to see some of the world while doing it, I would recommend signing up for the Suas volunteer programme.