Monday, 28 November 2011

In Memory - Cowboy Cliff

In Memory - Cowboy Cliff. 25th November 2011

Anyone who has been on the Book Bus in Livingstone in the past 3 years will know of Cowboy Cliff. Either through our visits to his preschool and/or through his informative and much loved cycle tours. Today there is some very sad news, Cliff passed away this morning at the age of 41. He will be very much missed by his 2 children, his family, his staff, his community, by me and by everyone who was fortunate to have met him.

Book Buses, Crowded Buses & just Plain Crazy Buses!!

September 2011 Livingstone, Zambia to Mangochi, Malawi.

The last week of Bookbus in Livingstone coincided with the general election here in Zambia. Campaigning, which mostly seems to involve driving around in cars with “bad quality” speakers on top, shouting (something Zambians are very good at!!) at people to vote for you, has been going on a while at all times of day and night. The ruling MMD party has been in power for 20 years and lots of people think it’s time for change.

The actual election was held on a Tuesday and this basically meant lots of teachers and pupils took it as an excuse to have several days, or even the whole week, off school!! . In fact LOADS of things stopped working because of the election. The whole of Livingstone ran out of bottled coke/fanta, you couldn’t post a parcel, and buses were cancelled. Basically anything that wasn’t working that week was blamed on “oh, it’s because of the election”!!

Puppets, Shakers & Chopsticks!!

September 2011 - Livingstone. Zambia

The last few weeks on board the Book Bus have really demonstrated that a great variety of skills are welcome and a bit hit with the children and the project. We have had a professional puppeteer as one of our volunteers and the rest of the group have been “roped” in to various plays and performances! It has really been great fun for all involved.

Monday, 24 October 2011

A Book in Every Hand Campaign - The Final Chapter

My reunion with the books in Malawi felt surreal.  I’m rarely lost for words, but as David Gordon (Chairman of The Book Bus) and I stood looking at the 63 giant boxes of books delivered – not a single word was spoken for what felt like a very long time.  That was a reflection of our emotion. 
David asked me to coordinate the Book in Every Hand back in March this year, with the aim of sending 5,000 books out to Malawi and I just happened to be blown into the office one day looking for a new voluntary project.

Of any projects I’ve experienced, this project has been a journey of epic magnitude, a real roller-coaster ride. I’ve been humbled by the gift of outgrown favourite books from school children in the UK and overwhelmed by the generous donations from bookshops, publishers and previous volunteers.....

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Book Bus South Luangwa National Park.

Wow is the main word that springs to mind whilst in South Luangwa National Park. I know of no other place on earth where hippos and elephants weave between your tents and munch grass by your ear at night! Thw wildlife was abundant, the safari highlighted that, and all in all it felt like 'the real Africa.'

As for The Book Bus, we had a lovely time with small classes full of polite and enthusiastic children. Books were read then lion masks, dancing giraffes and butterflies were made and the kids fascinated us with stories about the wild animals that visit their villages. It's part of daily life there to be on constant alert for dangerous encounters with lions or elephants it seems. That's their reality and we got to experience that briefly so can now really empathize!

Everyone said the place exceeded their expectations and had an amazing and unique life experience there, and lucky Glen gets to go back soon with the next group!


Friday, 16 September 2011

Book Bus at the Lake of Stars Festival

LAKE OF STARS: Yellow Flip-Flops!

Yellow.  When you see bright yellow at this year’s festival, it’s likely to be one of the Book Bus team and you can join in. Leading up to the festival we’ll be giving out 10,000 books to the children we work with in Malawi and to celebrate this, the Book Bus will be at the festival with activities and events for you to join in with.

Swap your Flip-Flops.  Instead of taking that extra pair of flip-flops, bring a couple of children’s books or some art materials.  Donate them at the stand and we’ll be able to pass them on to the local children.

My time on the Book Bus in Zambia by Barbara Egglesfield

Gosh! Where to start? It was such a wonderful, rewarding experience. 

Camping in tents in a secure site (Grubby’s Grotto!) 15 minutes taxi ride from Victoria Falls, I met just two other volunteers on my first week (normally there should be 8) so we were under strength. But as the schools had just returned from their 4-week break, not all the pupils had arrived back: many would have been staying with relatives.

With Sunday to recover from the long flight via Johannesburg, and Monday to prepare a few classes and sort out the bus, we went to Nakatindi Basic School on Tuesday as the schools had used their first day back to clean the classrooms. My first class was a Grade 4 group (age range 11-12) and, after introductions, we read Handa’s Surprise, discussed it and played a game I had prepared. I was relieved to find the children to be pretty responsive and friendly. Nakatindi is one of the poorest schools in the area, receiving no grants from the government, and has recently had a water pump installed for school and village use. 

Friday, 2 September 2011

The Holiday Fun Continues!!

The second two weeks of holiday club have been just as fun and rewarding as the first two. For the third week we visited Zweilopili Centre of Excellence. This is not exactly a school but a centre where children can come and learn for free, they can get tutition or do revision. It also caters for those who have dropped out of school for getting pregnant. We first started coming here last August holidays and it continues to be a big favourite amongst volunteers. It has grown from a couple of grass classrooms to 3 grass and 2 mud and straw classrooms, in that year. (Thanks Bookbus volunteers!!) It is the determination of its founder and the dedication of the volunteer staff that makes it such an inspiring place to come.

We began the week with about 100 kids and ended with 200! I don’t think that any of the volunteers want to see another lion masks, spirally snake or crown again for a very long time!! 180 crowns…that must be some kind of record! The chaos was always present but in a “sort of organised” way. Lots of kids would make something in the first session, run home, take off their name tag, leave their creation and run back and try to be selected for the third session by claiming they only just arrived!! It’s amazing the motivation some paper, crayons, scissors, glue and wool can have!!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Time for Holiday Club!!

Now it’s school holiday time in Zambia we are doing week long holiday clubs and so far the first two weeks have been amazing. The first week we went to a school, called Chilileko (blessing) right on the outskirts of Livingstone that we have been visiting since the beginning of this year. About 120 pupils turned up everyday which was a great turnout and we had lots of fun, its nice for he volunteers to really get to know a group of kids well, which you can’t do when you are doing a different school everyday! All the teachers came everyday too which showed great commitment as the school is very far from where they live. They were joining it with the crown making, cutting paper people chains and chatting to the volunteers! We set up library corners for the children while they were waiting for their lessons and it was great just to watch them absorbed in the books. Paper maiche made its debut at the school, the older kids really enjoyed it but the little ones just wanted to pinch the balloons!! We had the longest lines ever for a game of “over and under”, thought it was never going to end! And on the Friday we got the glitter out!!! Everyone was covered in green sparkles!!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

On a sunny afternoon in Meheba

A report from Aurore and Julia - 2 french volunteers currently in Meheba.

After a full week of advertising, we’ve finally managed to set up and organize our afternoon English and French classes for adults. School C’s headmaster had very kindly agreed to lend us somes rooms for our classes. We now have four regular students, coming every afternoon, even though they are not as punctual as we would like (see “Being a refugee”).
Of course, we wish we had more students but due to the particular circumstances of a refugee camp, organising english classes has proven difficult. The main reason why people wouldn’t show up to our classes is that Meheba is a very large camp, meaning that the refugees would have to walk for around two hours to get there. This amount of time travelling is often not compatible with peoples work hours or familly obligations.
In a sense, it shows the dedication of our students; Fiston, for instance, has to walk 8km every day for a one or two hour lesson, while Prosper lives in block G, the furthest part of the camp. Cornestone, who is fluent in English and 5 other dialects, has come to us for French classes in order to communicate with the newly arrived Congolese, while w cxe have given our last student, Jean-Jacques, seven English lessons so far. He has improved exponentially in the last weeks considering that he started with no knowledge of the English language.

It is wonderfull to see their progress, from week to week and their willingness to learn a language that might help them to improve their futures.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Through the eyes of a volunteer

zaA volunteers story by Helen Davies.

I volunteered with the Book Bus in 2009. The project was in its early stages then but it is now in it’s 4th year running and Kelly, the leader is in her third year and has really helped the project to move forward, establishing lots of links within the community.

On a day to day basis you visit schools and occasionally orphanages. When there we would read books with the children and do activities around the books ie; if we read a book about a butterfly we might make butterflies, that kind of thing.

The project brings a lot of joy to the people of Livingstone. You will never get tired of seeing the smiling faces of the children, waving and shouting hello as you make the trip along the dirt tracks to school. It is the most wonderful feeling when you step off the bus on your first day and the children swarm you!!! I smiled so much, my face hurt!!! The children are so grateful for your attention and time. They are often jam packed into a classroom so receive very little one on one time from the teacher. Working with the Book Bus really helps the children to build their confidence, allows them to be creative and gives them access to books that are fun and engaging. I've done quite a bit of teaching and youth work over the years and from my experience, children learn much better when learning is 'fun'!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Our 2 New Contrasting Schools

Written June 2011

So the 2011 season is well under way and we have already established some close links with the 2 new schools that have become part of our program this year.

Mondays now see us visit Libuyu community school. This is a school similar to that at Linda which used to be Mondays destination. It is in the heart of one of Livingstone’s busiest, nosiest and poorest suburbs. It’s close to a huge market and health centre and driving there you get a real sense of African everyday living. It has around 400 pupils from grades 1 to 7. The teaching takes place in one large hall (it used to be some kind of depo) There are some plywood partitions but you can just imagine the noise when there are 5 classes taking place at once.

The staff here are all volunteers, except the head, who is a paid government teacher. Mr Matenga is a quiet, smiling man who beams when he talks about his job. He is absolutely thrilled to have the Book Bus visit his school and he always comes walking around, hands clasped behind his back, seeing what we are doing, praising the students and offering encouragement. He is one of the most involved heads that I have met during my time in Africa. His staff also have an obvious and open respect for him.

Classes here are relatively big and we start our week off teaching an hour each of grade 4, 5, 6 and 7. Volunteer numbers have been relatively low for the past few weeks so we are getting experts at what works well when you have 20 kids on your mat!! (Top tip – avoid glitter (oh -and sequins!!) Quizzes have become very popular with the older groups. It ensures that they have to read through the book, because with so many you cant listen to them all read individually and they love working in teams and competing with their classes mates. Although there is an obvious rivalry they always conclude with a “clap for the winner!” Here in Zambia the pupils always help each other if someone is stuck and they rarely seem to make fun or laugh at the less able students.

The pupils also love having us and now they are used to this weekly ritual, even suggesting which topics they would like to do next week and regularly asking why we can’t come everyday! We teach outside in a small courtyard with fruit trees as shade, although chasing the shade still does occur. The soil is a deep shade of terracotta and we always climb aboard the bus exhausted and covered in red sand....who has the dirtiest feet is often a topic of conversation on the way home!! (another top tip – don’t wear white trousers!!!)

On Tuesday, in direct contrast, we visit Chileleko (Tonga for Blessings) Community School. We drive right through Libuyu and exit Livingstone and, although we are only a few kilometres from town, it feels like we are really out in the bush. It is so peaceful here. There is no electricity or water in the area (which is called Mapensi – most Livingstonians don’t even know where it is.) and people live mostly in traditional mud and thatch houses The school is situated right next to the Maramba river, which eventually flows into the Zambezi and we teach outside, behind the school, under trees with views of nothing but wilderness.

There are about 280 pupils here and they come from surrounding villages. The children here are the politest I have met during BookBus, this comes from the head teacher and founder of the school, Emmanuel. He and his brother, James, run the school which has 6 teachers, all of whom are volunteers. Emmanuel and James are both trained teachers but they have refused paid government posts because they want to continue working here. Emmanuel hopes that one day the position of head teacher of Chileleko will be recognised by the government and will attract some kind of salary (as is happening in more and more community schools). It is rare to see such sacrifice and dedication to a cause and when myself and other volunteers complimented him on the behaviour of his pupils, he smiled and said, “Hearing things like that makes all the hardships worthwhile.”

We teach grades 5, 6 and 7 and it really is a pleasure to be here. The pupils, the teachers and the setting all make for a relaxed morning. And just for your information the soil here is light brown and although you get dusty (especially with the wind that doesn’t seem to reach town blowing the dust around) it doesn’t generate the same type of feet related conversations on the way home as Monday!!

It is a great feeling to have found two such worthy schools to continue the Livingstone Book Bus in 2011. I’m sure you will be hearing more about them from me as the season continues.

2011 - The year of giant origami!

Written May 2011

So after a 3 week break in UK I find myself back in Livingstone, Zambia with 5 days to prepare for the 2011 Book Bus season. The truck is back from Malawi and after a good wash and a new alternator it’s almost ready to roll, there is only the mammoth task of unpacking all the books/supplies left from last season as well as the huge stack of boxes we picked up from a container in Malawi. When I open the truck I had forgotten how many boxes there were, no floor space to be seen and only me and the new, but very obliging, guard at the grotto, Chris to plough through them. Unpacking new supplies is always exciting and 3 days of starting at 6am to avoid the unseasonably oppressive heat were very well spent. We have also had some enormous thunderstorms and torrential downpours which are also rare for this time of year.

On Friday Edward, our driver, and I put up the new tents that had finally been released from customs in Lusaka airport and they were promptly christened with a thunderstorm that afternoon. I was expecting no rains once the volunteers arrived but that was not to be, we had rain over the arrival weekend, and I’m sure that I annoyed everyone with my constant, “it shouldn’t rain at this time of year” comments! It feels great to be back leading the Bookbus and introducing people to “Real Zambian life.” It has been nice going around the schools and telling them that the project is back on and seeing the positive reactions! Coming back to Livingstone really feels like coming home now and it is so friendly and welcoming, something which is even more evident after a few days in London!!

So week one of project we are visiting Lubasi home again! I was surprised to find a number of new children when I visited to arrange the program. I leant that they are Congolese children of people caught attempting cross the border illegally. The parents were detained in jail and the children were brought to Lubasi. They range in age from 2 to 9 and speak French, Swahili and other Congolese languages but they are all intelligent and quickly pick up some English and Nyanja – the Zambian language most commonly used! Unfortunately nobody seems to know what will happen to these children or their parents and after a few days one little girl is missing from class and the others tell us she has “gone back”.

We divide the children into 3 age groups and do an hour long session with each group! The children are so happy to see the truck again and each day they await us more eagerly! Our first group is a real mix of ages and experience but we get on fantastically and have great times together at school and in our free time! After a week you can see the attachement of the volunteers and the children in their small groups. We even visit on Saturday afternoon to play football and just “hang” out with the girls. They are delighted to see us even with the Book bus and it’s cargo of entrancing supplies.

Some of the funniest moments that I can ever remember happen in this week, including some amazing games of “the saucepan game” which have altered the images of Nelson Mandela and Spiderman irreparably in the minds of those involved, confused Captain Hook/Cook, introduced us to some bizarre Pianist that I still don’t remember the name of, made “Gollum” a one handed gesture and proved that nobody actually knew who Hans Zimmer actually was!! (this will only make sense to those who were actually there – sorry but I had to include it for historic value!!)

Origami has been the hit of the week at Lubasi, with penguins, flowers, birds, frogs and ball being made after reading books of these themes! Only when the kids decided that they wanted a lily did things get complicated, so one free session it took 3 of us “adults” to finally make a lily! But so impressed were we with our efforts that that night after dinner we got out the big sugar paper and had a “Giant” origami evening! I must say it has to be one of the most surreal nights in Book bus history and I think the other people on the campsite thought we were bonkers! But we are known as the “Librarians” by everyone thanks to Grubby, so I think we are known for doing “strange” things that wouldn’t usually be found on a campsite in the heart of Africa!!

Friday, 1 July 2011

Over 10,000 books for Malawi!

Whooosh!  Yippeeee!  Cabooom!

We did it!  We did it!  We did it!

Over 10,000 books are packed and are now beginning their journey to Malawi.

(10,118 books in total)

Many thanks to the recent donations from publishers Autumn Publishers, HarperCollins, Random House, Templar Publishers and Usborne Books for their very generous gifts.

Many thanks to staff and customers of Warwick Books and Kenilworth Books who have given generously throughout the appeal – I shall miss skipping over the Market Square to pick up boxes of books.

And many, many thanks to the children and staff of Coten End Primary School (Warwick), St Mary’s Immaculate School (Warwick), St Nicholas C of E School (Kenilworth) and St Pauls C of E School (Leamington) where the children gave their own books towards the appeal.  We look forward to visiting the schools in the autumn term to share the stories of where their books have gone.

A big thank you to all individuals and groups that have contributed… DHL and The Book Barn International (Hallatrow).

A very special thank you to one individual - I very nearly fainted when we received an unexpected donation which covered the entire costs of the shipment.  A miracle!

Next stop is Malawi.

Whooosh!  Yippeeee!  Cabooom!

Diane Maybey

Monday, 20 June 2011

Meheba UNHCR settlement

The Book Bus arrives in Meheba UNHCR refugee settlement. The Book Bus and its volunteer crew will be marking "World Refugee Day" today in Meheba where more than 17,000 refugees from Angola, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Somalia are housed by the UN in preparation for repatriation or passage to a new home. Whilst conditions within the settlement are reasonably comfortable by African bush standards, opportunities and education are severely limited. You can imagine then the joy that the Book Bus brings every time we visit Meheba. 2011 marks our third year of cooperation with UNHCR and Book Bus coordinator Jackie Wigglesworth and her crew of volunteers will be providing reading assistance and story telling sessions at 5 schools within the camp. Living in the settlement presents its own challenges - some of the crew will be spending 6 weeks there under canvas with few of the domestic amenities that we all take for granted at home. The project runs form 20 June until 29 July 2011, follow their story on Facebook and on this Book Bus Blog.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Great week for the Malawi book appeal!

An extraordinary week for the appeal; thanks to an enormous donation of 2,700 story books from Allen and Mark at The Book Barn International the total now stands at 4,544.  It’s amazing!  I felt very emotional packing the books, knowing that we were so close to our target.  As a huge thank you, The Book Bus held a fun-filled storytelling event and invited local children to paint a mural on the café wall.  A big thank you to The Period House Shop, Warwick for matching the paint supply, we wouldn’t have had enough.  If you’re in the local area to Hallatrow, Somerset – a trip to the Book Barn is well worth the visit; millions of books, a coffee in the café and friendly staff.

We have 456 books to go.  Locally in Warwickshire the children of St Nicholas C of E Primary School in Kenilworth and St Paul’s C of E Primary School in Leamington have joined the appeal.  At 10.30 and 11.15 on Saturday 25th June we will be holding storytelling sessions at Kenilworth Books, Talisman Square, Kenilworth.

456 books to go!  456!  We can absolutely meet this target and more so than before every single book given will bring us closer.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Malawi Book Drive - latest news

We’re almost at 2,000 books! 

The last two weeks have been very exciting.  The children from Caerleon School, Newport gave over 200 books and kindly donated their pocket money – an amazing £100 towards the appeal.  A really big thanks to teacher Suzanne Price (previous Book Bus volunteer) and the delightful children – it was a real pleasure to meet them.

We visited The Book Barn, Hallatrow which was an extraordinary experience; the UK’s largest second-hand bookshop, wall to ceiling, stacks and stacks and stacks!  The owners have agreed a donation which is going to boost the numbers!  On Wednesday 1st June we’ll be holding a children’s storytelling event from 11 – 12.30 and painting a mural in the Book Barn café in the afternoon.  Join us if you’re near!

The deadline for the shipment is drawing nearer, 1st July.   Any support given will make a difference.  Almost half way and time is ticking. 

I need your help people!  3,000 to go – whoop-whoop!

Diane Maybey

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

BISEE Book Bus Update

BISEE Book Bus Update, from Jenny Ávila, Volunteer Co-ordinater

The BISEE Book Bus continues working for the improvement of life through stories and fairy tales.  Children really enjoy the visits of the bus to their schools.  In April we had a few days in the Interactive Museum of Sciences.  This involved two Saturdays reading to 150 children and 150 young people.  It was an interesting experience, new to us but we had a good group of enthusiastic volunteers.

During April we also read at SEK School.  We had about 40 children writing their own stories and reading to younger ones of the same school.  They are going to donate these stories to the BISEE Book Bus. 

In May we started to build reading corners in the schools we have worked with in the last 3 months.  The headteachers of the school were very grateful. We also had a young writer who offered to train teachers or the person responsible for the corner, how to use the books and get the best of them. 

Last weekend we had “Maratón del Cuento”  a reading event dedicated to young children. For this event we recreated the BISEE book bus. For the first day we collected a little bit of creative material and children donated their drawings.  The second day our stand became a real reading corner.  We had families reading together and we let the children choose their own stories to read or have someone reading for them.  It was such a wonderful experience and a really good opportunity to let people know about the project.  We had one of the most popular writers of Italy, Anna Lavatelli reading on the bus for a few families that joined us.  It was also very exciting to meet a boy, 7 years old, who visited the bus with his mum. After listening to the stories of the bus and the history of it he told us he wanted to be a volunteer that moment and we gathered a group of families and Erick (his name) read for them.  He is willing to come and volunteer again if we have another time reading in Pichincha.  He also wanted to come with us one of the days to help us with the reading corner.  The weekend was so busy that we had the visit of about 2,000 children and their families. 

Last week writers from different countries got together to share their experiences and we had the chance to have them all on our bus.  They donated their books and were incredibly happy to know that this book bus is present in Ecuador.  We met 2 writers carrying out a similar project.  One was a Spanish writer who has a book bus in the Sahara and we were delighted learn about his project.  He gave us great insights to improve and develop more things about the project. 

In June we will continue the reading in the Museum.  We are also going to have the British embassy doing the reading corner this month together with one of the tour operators of Quito.  We also contacted some skilful children last weekend to join us to make the reading corners together with their families. 

This is so far all what we are doing with the BISEE Book Bus.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Book in every Hand Appeal - update

The books are slowly gathering up in the attic space above the office in Warwick.  It’s amazing to see how a single book given adds to a pile, and each pile then contributes to the target of 5,000 books that we aim to collect for this year’s ‘A Book in Every Hand’ Malawi, appeal.  Whether it is one book or 100 books given, it is making a difference and is symbolic of the individual impact these books will have when we give a book to children in Malawi.

The public response has been very positive, over 1,267 books collected so far.  We’ve received donations from previous volunteers on The Book Bus.  The Federation of Children’s Book Groups gave generously at their annual conference.  The customers of Warwick and Kenilworth Books have been very giving, with owners Frances and Keith and staff supporting the collection.

This week we have written to all schools in Warwick, Leamington and Kenilworth to invite our local school children and school communities to contribute to the collection.  Many thanks to Barfords a local removal firm ( who have generously provided over 30 boxes ideal for the packing, DHL are supporting the shipment, so really excellent support.

If you have 1 book or 100 books to donate, I can assure you that it will make a difference.  5,000 books – we can do this!

For further information see our  Book in Every Hand appeal

Diane Maybey
Office Volunteer

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

BISEE Book Bus at Quito's Interactive Science Museum

BISEE Books and Quito's Interactive Science Museum (MIC) join forces to promote literature and reading in the cityThe BISEE Book Bus was invited to attend as guest of honour at the inauguration of "Quito Lee" at the Interactive Science Museum (MIC) on Saturday 12 March 2011. "Quito Lee" which translates in English as "Quito reads", is a literacy programme aimed at encouraging children to read at least one book a month. The museum is promoting the programme in association with the BISEE Book Bus which will be parked on the museum site every Saturday to encourage children and families to climb aboard and enjoy reading our fantastic selection of children's story books.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Rainy Season in Zambia & Roll on April 30th!!

Life carries on much the same in Zambia during rainy season, the only differences are: the roads are much worse, people are even later for things than usual and they have a new excuse “the rains”,and the landscape is completely transformed. Everything bursts to life, the bush is every imaginable shade of green, and people are growing maize on every available spot of land. If you have only visited in the dry season when everything is brown and brittle you would be amazed at the difference. It is hard to believe it’s the same place, the road to the falls is unrecognisable and there is no chance of spotting game crossing the road, there is enough food and water everywhere so they aren’t forced to traipse down to the river.

Next week I will get to see plenty of this greenery on the 3000km round trip from Livingstone to Blantyre to collect the truck. The first 1500km will be by public bus – the joys of only stopping once on a 9 hour journey and then only for a matter of minutes, when the driver honks you have about 0.2 seconds to re-board or else!! If you are super- unlucky you get a driver who plays his favourite tape at full blast on repeat for the entire journey!!  It will be great to meet up with Douglas again and at least on the journey back we will have full control of toilet/snack stops!! I’ve promised to take Douglas to see the Victoria Falls this time, as when he was here in 2010 I was slightly uber-busy and he missed out!

The falls are always green because of the spray but at the moment all the rains mean that the water level is slowly rising. They are very spectacular at this time of year and not quite at their fullest so you can get quite close without getting soaked! The spray blows with the wind so sometimes you get a covering of fine waterdrops, but with temperatures in the 30’s everyday this is cooling and very pleasant.

Tourism at this time of year is very low, but in my opinion it’s a great time to visit. The rains are not debilitating. It generally rains for an hour or in the afternoon and before and after the skies are brilliant blue. It’s hot but not unbearably so as in October, the nights are warm and you can sit out, so not cool, like June and July. There are few other tourists so you can get good deals on hotels and on activities there are no crowds. The only downside is that it can be harder to spot game because of the greenery and the fact that they don’t have to travel to find scarce water. This saying I went to Chobe last month and saw some of the best game since I was in Africa. There was a whole herd of elephants in the water right by our boat and the youngsters were all playing, it was amazing sitting and watching them play-fight, just like human children!

Since I’ve been back in Livingstone I’ve visited most of our schools several times! It’s great to come back and be genuinely welcomed by the teachers and the pupils. I’ve spent quite a lot of time at the community project in Zweilopili. They have built new grass shelters and been able to put tarpaulin on the roof to keep the rains out, thanks to the generosity of some 2010 Book Bus volunteers. They have also constructed a toilet and are planning another classroom block. Mr Mwiya, who has recently retired as deputy head of Nakatindi, is an inspiration to everyone with his dedication of starting this project and funding much of it himself. At the moment he is trying hard to encourage girls who dropped out of school because of pregnancies to come and take free tuition classes so they can get back into education. (I've just noticed below - I've even started wearing yellow in my freetime!)

Going to Lubasi is always a highlight and I had a great afternoon the other week playing with the kids. They have completed the building of their chapel whilst I was away, so once a month now on Sundays they have their own service at the home. Last month they had a fundraising Zambian meal. The staff dressed up in costumes from different provinces, and prepared food from those areas. There were about 70 tourists and locals who all paid an entrance fee and the money is going towards the upkeep of the home. It was a fun afternoon with lots of singing and dancing and a chance to try the famous caterpillars that the Luvali people from the north western province enjoy eating! Its great to see that the home is using it’s initiate to raise money and not just relying on donors.

This season we will be including 2 new schools in the Book bus program both of which I have recently visited. One I discovered the first year I was here, but with the bus visiting would be difficult but now we have the truck I thought it was time to give it a go. It’s called Chileleko, which is Tonga for Blessings and the teachers and pupils are very excited about our impending visits. They still remembered me from my one  visit in July 2008!!

The other is Libuyu community school and again the bus couldn’t visit but now in 2011, here comes the truck! It’s always a challenge to begin at new schools because it takes time to get organised and to get teachers and pupils used to what we do, but it is rewarding when you can see the improvement in the kids week by week!

I can’t wait to get started…roll on April 30th!!

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Book Bus in Quito

The Book Bus is proving to be a big hit at schools in and around Quito. Our volunteer crews this week have included members of the South American Explorers' Club, the Peace Corps as well as our regular crew from Ecuador and the UK. The Bus will be guest of honour at the forthcoming launch of Quito's new Science and Humanity Museum. Children from our Quito schools have been working hard to produce a collection of artwork for display at the event. Masks have been a popular option whilst Peace Corps volunteer April produced a mini-theatrical event using puppets hand-made by the children.

All in all it's been a fun week with some excellent results. Keep it up crew!

Friday, 18 February 2011

Raise funds for the Book Bus climbing Mt Toubkal in Morocco

Do you fancy a challenge but don't have the time (or inclination) to scale Everest?

Then consider The Book Bus's charity trek to the summit of North Africa's highest'll only have to take two days off work!

The Toubkal trek is an extended mountain walk that lasts 3 days. There will be full support from local staff: tents, backpacks and all expedition equipment will be carried on mules. You will be carrying a daypack whilst walking. Walking days involve 6 to 8 hours on the trail; climate, altitude and remoteness may play a part in the challenge.
Previous trekking experience is not essential but you must have a good level of walking fitness.

The details
22nd September - 25th September
This trek is presented at “cost” of £485.

Each person who joins the trek pledges to raise a minimum of £500 (there is no maximum!) to help fund the Book Buses. You may either pay your own trek cost and then raise £500 as a donation to Book Bus.
Or Charity Commission rules allow you to raise  £485 + £500 in sponsorship, so long as you make it clear to your donors that you are doing so..

For more information - Toubkal Charity Climb

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The Book Bus with Lake of Stars

This Sunday - 20th February, The Book Bus will be at Market Club in London town.

Market Club is a new kind of free event for the leading East London Arts Centre that will brighten up your Sundays.

The finest festival team in the world (Lake of Stars) are kicking off the New Year moving their Wednesday night sessions to monthly Sunday celebrations of art, music, film, markets and Olympic sports. Live music comes from rising indie-folk star Sam Sallon plus reggae/dub outfit Scubaroots with DJ sets from Fabric’s Ali B, Jamie A, Kid Blue and Young Offenders.

Sundays in Shoreditch are alive from Brick Lane, Spitalfields and Columbia Rd markets – get indoors with the Market Club’s mini market selling everything from books to music to a sample sale from Fenchurch.

If you find yourself in the eastend of London this Sunday..pop in and say hello!

Market Club
35 - 47 Bethnal Green Road,
London, E1 6LA

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Book Bus in the Press

Wanderlust magazine journalist Ed Stocker spent 2 weeks on the Book Bus in Ecuador last year. You can read about Ed's experiences in the February issue of Wanderlust available at WH Smiths and other large stationary stores.

The Book Bus in Zambia features in a Guardian article by Sarah Gilbert. Click here to read about her time on board the Book Bus in Livingstone

Monday, 7 February 2011

A tale of understanding from Ecuador

The Book Bus in Píntag

A smile from a child that has been beaten, a smile from a child that has lost 
his mum, a smile from a child that hasn’t had reason to smile in years is what 
the members of the BOOK BUS need to feel good. For a moment a smile from a child 
with dirt in his face and a sparkle of sadness in his eyes might steal a tear 
from the BOOK BUS volunteers. A small school in Píntag, a small town close to 
Valle de los Chillos, was the school that invited the BOOK BUS members to have 
this wonderful experience. Small beautiful smiles to bigger ones were present, 
all ages from 3 to 13, all sitting down with their heads up showing a lot of 
respect and humbleness. Their faces were like carved by the hands of god, they 
had eyes that had a hope and plead of some love. Each member of the BOOK BUS had 
a moment to read and have a pleasant moment with these children. The way how the 
books have a connection with the children is something that no scientist or 
doctor can explain. Their imagination bursts and gives away a dream, monkeys, 
fishes swimming in the dark seas and eagles overflying the clouds in a cold 
winter are some of the images that these children get in their small and curious 
minds.  Juanita Neira the godmother of the BOOK BUS shared this moment with us. 
An activity that incorporated all the students and the BOOK BUS was something 
that showed how a story can be made from our hearts. This experience made us 
open our eyes and see the reality of how many children right next to us need a 
book and also some love to have a smile painted in their faces.

Jaime Andrés Durán (Year 12)
Jaime is a pupil at the British School in Quito which participates in the 
BISEE Book Bus school2school exchange programme in Ecuador

The Book Bus makes a splash in London

The Book Bus mounted a stand at the recent Destinations Travel Exhibition in London's Earls Court. This was our first exposure at this type of event and, because many of the visitors to our stand had never heard about us before, we were able to spread the word to a whole new audience. Accolades ranged from "Wow!" to "best travel event I've seen at the whole show".  Clearly the concept of travelling to support a worthy cause grabs the imagination and we look forward to welcoming some of our show stand visitors onto the Book Bus in the near future.

As ever, it's the efforts of our volunteers who keep the Book Bus wheels turning and we're grateful to those who supported us on the stand during the show.  A big thanks goes to Jean, Vicky, Hillary, Raquel, Glenn, Ellie, Kate and Seth.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Book Bus Ecuador

Launched in March 2010, the BISEE Book Bus Ecuador has already worked with over 1800 children in 4 provinces: Manab’, Chimborazo, Napo and Pichincha.

During its first year, the bus has proved extremely popular with pupils and is always greeted with lots of smiles, waving and shouting! We have been working with primary school children (5-12 years) in small groups, reading stories together, letting children choose their own story to read alone and doing activities to improve children’s imagination. Imagination, creativity and curiosity are essential for children to get the most out of the stories, and are sadly lacking in rural parts of Ecuador visited by the bus. Although the literacy rate is quite high, children have no access to story books; their teachers don’t like reading and see no benefit in reading to the children. Next year we hope to work more closely with the teachers so that the children continue to benefit when the bus has moved on.

As well as working with the schools in the mornings, in the afternoons the bus is parked in the street and opens its doors to any child who wants to come onboard and read with us. We often get the same children come every day; these children have chosen to give up their free time to come and read stories, rather than having to as part of their school day.

In Chimborazo, when we found some children weren’t able to come some afternoons because they had homework to do, we decided to help them in the bus after reading. A lot of children in this area live with grandparents (who are often illiterate), as their parents have moved to the cities to find work. These children have no help with their homework, and one boy we worked with had failed many school years because he had no extra support. He was 11 and could barely read and write. it took a while for him to trust us enough to feel able to bring his homework as he was used to being laughed at for being so behind. In the month he worked with us his confidence soared and he started playing with the other children who came on the bus, who stopped making fun of him when they realised he was trying to learn.

Another girl we worked with also lived with her grandparents. She needed 8 sheets of plain A4 paper to do her homework, it only cost about 20 cents but her grandparents didn’t have the money; they were hoping to get it the day before the work was due in leaving her one evening to do all 8 pages of work. When we offered to give her the 8 sheets she needed the look of joy and relief on her face was amazing.

These are just two stories from two of the children we worked with this year. Every child has their own story to tell; when you walk around the market and see hundreds of children working to sell food or clothes you realise that every one of those has a different story. The only way out of poverty for these children is education, and if the Book Bus can inspire some of them through reading, we can really make a difference to their futures.

Annelisa Sadler
BISEE Book Bus volunteer 2010

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Helen's Book Bus experience in Zambia

My name is Helen, I am 29-years-old. I volunteered with the Book Bus in May and June of 2009. The Book Bus is a wonderful project based in Livingstone, Zambia. We visited five different schools in the Livingstone area, one for each day of the school week. The Book Bus is a Livingstone icon - everybody knows the Book Bus!     

Volunteering with the Book Bus is such a rewarding experience. I remember one of my fellow volunteers commenting after my first day that she had never seen anyone smile so much! The children are amazing, so keen to learn and so happy that you have taken the time to help them. They are often packed sixty to a class so any individual attention you can give them is really appreciated. 
In a typical day I would take four small groups for an hour each, grades four to seven. The work was also challenging at times as we would work with 8-year-olds who had excellent reading skills as well as 16-year-olds who could hardly read at all. Creativity, flexibility and patience are great skills to have as every group is different. In the lessons we would usually read together, talk about what they had read and do an activity based around the story and themes of the book, usually arts and crafts (drawing, making masks etc) or play games to further their understanding (football, netball, word games etc). Sometimes we would work on little projects together that would continue over into the next weeks lesson! The children especially liked 'The Banana Song'!  

One of the best things about volunteering with the Book Bus for me, was the wonderful people I met. I made some great friends, my fellow volunteers, the teachers and of course the children. The support I had from the Book Bus and VentureCo staff was great, both pre-departure and whilst in Zambia.
Zambia is a wonderful country and in our free time we explored the lovely town of Livingstone and the surrounding areas. There are so many things to do - see Victoria Falls aka Mosi-o-Tunya (‘the smoke that thunders’ - and it really does), go white water rafting and kayaking on the mighty Zambezi river, pet lions and cheetahs, walk to the Devil's Pool, bungi jump 111m from the Zim-Zam bridge, the second highest bunji in the world (if you're brave enough – I’m not), see hippos and giraffes on a sunset cruise, take high tea at The Royal Livingstone and visit Chobe National Park in Botswana, the elephant viewing there is amazing! 

I can’t wait to go back again!!


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Wanderlust Magazine February 2011

Wanderlust Magazine have published an article on volunteering in their latest issue and The Book Bus in Ecuador stars as one of their chosen features. Wanderlust journalist Ed Stocker spent 2 weeks on the Book Bus as it visited schools in the Amazon and coastal regions of the country. You can follow his story on pages 112 to 115 of the February issue of the magazine which is available from WH Smith and other newsagents.