Article by James Hawes, a pupil at St Paul’s School
The summer 2018 trip to Zambia was one of education, inspiration and cultural immersion. Three teachers accompanied 15 Paulines to the northern Copperbelt region of Zambia where we experienced the education work of the charity Beyond Ourselves, for which we had been raising money during the school year. During our trip, we also learned firsthand about other development initiatives in the country. We visited seven schools during the 10-day period, doing volunteer work at most of them, which ranged from the administration of PE activities with limited resources at Nsobe School at the beginning of the trip, to assessing literacy and phonics at Mwabombeni Primary School later in the week. The trip involved visiting the Beyond Ourselves-funded schools as well as others, and the disparity in funding between the supported and unsupported schools was shocking. Seeing Grace Community School in particular, a newly established school where lessons were taught in a roofless building, was especially touching and helped us to realise the importance of the charitable work of Beyond Ourselves.
The religious presence in Zambia is strong, and the overwhelming majority of the schools were set up by a local church. On the first full day, we attended a Sunday Service at a village community church, which was an open air service in the bush, and gave us a sense of the importance of the Church in Zambian culture. The first few days gave us the opportunity to learn about specific Zambian customs, such as Zambia’s unique three-part handshake and some basic Bemba words. Mr Block was the only member of the group who had previously travelled to Zambia, so the rest of us needed some education in the particular cultural nuances. The group spent the first two nights at Nsobe Game Camp, which is part of the Nsobe Company – an organisation with a fascinating development model which included giving all employees a stake in the company to keep the local community supported with economic growth. Learning about development as a process was a major ingredient of the trip, and hearing from the manager of Nsobe gave the group an insight into a method of stimulating economic progress. Taking charge of PE at the Nsobe School was a memorable part of the trip, which involved teaching the whole school together how to do a Mexican wave. After the days at Nsobe Camp we were ready for the week ahead.
We then stayed in Ndola, capital of the Copperbelt region, visiting and doing work at several schools in the area. Of these, Janna School was the largest and the one where we spent the most time, being the first school to develop a partnership with the Beyond Ourselves organisation. We sat in on a science lesson, assisted in a lesson of arts and crafts, and taught a course of First Aid and netball during our two days there. We also led games during the lunch break and taught all the children the Macarena, which went down especially well. During one of the afternoons, we visited a Zambia-based Italian ice cream company with a charitable focus, called Gigibonta, which supports technical colleges for locals as well as accommodation for orphans. That same day we learned about the Wiphan company, which provides jobs for widows and education for orphans. The trip as a whole taught us all about the different ways of bringing about development in Zambia, learning of the importance of the access to education that Beyond Ourselves is helping to provide, complemented with the support and opportunities offered by the other companies like Nsobe and Gigibonta.
Our final few days saw us carry out assessments of literacy and phonics at Mwabombeni Primary School, host the sports day at Greater Joy Community School, and do chores at local people’s houses, just to name a few things that we did. We were staying in the city of Kitwe, where we witnessed some of the worst poverty on the trip, and where the problem of alcoholism was most evident. On the way to Kitwe we stopped at a honey farm, which was another example of a small business set up with charitable development at its core. Despite Kitwe’s extreme poverty, Greater Joy School had a lively atmosphere, and we helped out a visiting company in leading a reading session. We visited two of Kitwe’s markets during our stay, and learnt a song in Bemba with a local group. Following our three nights in Kitwe, it was time to head back to London.
Following the trip, we now have a much better understanding of how overseas development charities, like Beyond Ourselves, function. We had the opportunity to do some volunteer work ourselves as well as hear directly from the Beyond Ourselves staff and the schools that benefit from their support. We have been inspired to help further the reach of the development provided by Beyond Ourselves, as well as the other development initiatives that we met with. This was a fantastic trip and we are grateful for Mr Block, Mr Taylor and Mr Young for making it happen.