Zambia Volunteer Trip
In September Exodus tour leader Andy McKee accompanied a small group of volunteers to Kasula - a small village in Zambia - to help the local people with some work on their school. Following on from this successful visit where both volunteers and villagers got a huge amount out of their interaction, Andy is setting up another departure on 18 May. Here he explains what the project is all about:
'Kasalu is a little village of about 220 households an hour or so drive out of Lusaka in a district called Chikumbi. It's not on the tourist trail - or on any trail for that matter. Like most African villages they have plenty of problems - the usual sort of problems you associate with Africa: poverty; AIDS; malaria; limited access to education, medical care; dirty drinking water. There are plenty of places in Africa worse off than Kasalu but life is undoubtedly tough here - very tough. If you haven't lost one of your children at a young age you are doing well; if your child is getting an education you are doing well; if you earn any sort of income at all then you can consider yourself very fortunate.
We tend to associate Africa with problems and negativity but here is a community trying to do something about it and fighting back. A few years ago the village set up the Chikumbi Community Centre (CCC) in order to address the needs and problems that are typically devastating to small African communities. With forward thinking vision they identified education as the long-term key to improving their lot. Kelvin Phiri and his wife Beatrice started a small school under a tree in 2005. On day one they had just three pupils. At the end of last term the roll call was taking a bit longer with 177 kids registered and they have obtained funding to build a very basic school building.
About three years ago I met Kelvin and swiftly came to the conclusion that here was a man and a community who could do great things with a few resources and a little bit of help. The charity Baraka Community Partnerships that I set up with some friends has adopted the community and we have been assisting them in various initiatives over the last few years. With the support of Kelvin and the CCC we have built bore holes, distributed malaria nets, conducted an eye care programme, sponsored children and sports teams as well as carried on with our ongoing support for Kasalu School. We have also helped build a chicken coop and a vegetable garden so the school has its own income in future.
Exodus has also now adopted the programme as one of its Responsible Tourism projects and this September I took a group of nine Exodus volunteers to the village to spend some time in this wonderful community to help out with some much needed improvements to the school.'
Here’s what a few of the volunteers had to say about the experience:
“One of the great benefits of the volunteer trip is the opportunity to stay with a family at their homestead. This is a great way to interact with and understand the priorities of a lifestyle far removed from what I for one am used to. From open air showers under the stars to surprisingly competitive evening card games with Beatrice and Kelvin’s family, all in all a great experience.”
“The trip was amazing. One of my lasting memories from the village will be Francis - one of the school children - who was my little guide around the village. We had great fun during our walks, spending lots of time laughing at my accent and attempting to learn and repeat phrases he was trying to teach me so that I could say hello to people in Nyanja.”
“It was a real privilege to be able to spend time with the local people in Chikumbi, to experience their way of life and culture and to make friends with these lovely people. The children were delightful and all so very keen to go to school, walking miles each day - role models for children in the UK perhaps!”
If you would like to join me next May and spend some time getting to know the villagers of Kasalu, I can guarantee you will be moved, enchanted and entertained. You don’t need to have any specialist skills to take part just lots of enthusiasm to help out and interact with the local people. The exact nature of the tasks you perform will depend on what needs doing at the time but to give you an idea, the September group found themselves assisting the local people in repairs around the school. Some fixed wooden desks, others helped to repair the roof and some painted the blackboards. However, playtime seemed to be the most popular pass time for our volunteers as they taught the children how to play games like rounders, cricket and rugby!
If that's not enough to attract you to this small corner of Zambia you may be interested to know that the trip will be rounded off with a visit to see one of Africa's greatest sights: the thundering waters of Victoria Falls.
Andy McKee Exodus' Tour Leader and RT Project Manager
Details of the trip are still being finalised but to find out more or to pre-register your interest, please contact Specialist Sales Consultant Vanessa Fowler by ringing 0845 330 6009 or by email: email@example.com
If you would like to contact our leader Andy McKee directly for more information, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about the project you can go to www.barakacommunity.com