Sunday, 20 May 2012

"Chi Bookbussy, Chi Bookbussy!"

So here we are well into the 2012 season of Livingstone Bookbus. The new truck has been out and about for 3 weeks now. Myself and Hannah, one of my first volunteers this year, spent the first weekend converting the plain white truck into the newest addition to the Bookbus fleet with Quentin Blake stickers, there are some more to come but already it’s looking the part. On the way to school children greeted us with chants of “chi Bookbussy, chi Bookbussy” last week , so the new truck has been officially baptised in true Zambian style. (chi means big in local language).

The first week of season was school holidays so we spent the week at Zweilopili in Dambwa area of town. It was so nice to see the children and teachers welcome us back with open arms. Every day the number of children increased as word spread. We read old favourites and new books, made masks, headbands and kites etc etc!! It feels so good to be back in the midst of the children and their enthusiasm for everything. You certainly notice how positive they are about absolutely everything when you have been back in the UK for a while. There is a marked contrast in people’s attitude to life. They may have nothing whatsoever but they are still smiling and thinking positive thoughts.

We are including some new schools in the program this year, including one in another area of Dambwa. Indeco community school is hidden away in the corner of the plot of a big government school. It is housed in the old Livingstone abattoir…strange but true. The head teacher is seriously committed to her 270 pupils and there was a nice atmosphere as soon as we arrived. They have a large yard full of mango trees so plenty of shade for our sessions. We taught almost the whole school on our first day and the children, although shy and reserved, enjoyed us being there and asked when we would be back. I can guarantee that within a few months the pupils will be much more open and creative once they get used to the presence of the Bookbus and the volunteers.

We went back out to Chilileko and it was great to see many of the children from last year. All the children from grade 7 passed their exams, which is a fantastic achievement and testament to the hard work of head teacher Emmanuel and his staff. Numbers were low in the first week of term as is always the case but the second week they had picked up dramatically. Whilst at Chilileko last week we had a surprise visit from the British High Commission who wanted to come out to see the work of the Bookbus first hand. They seemed very impressed by our small group  set up and the direct hands on approach of our volunteers.

This week we will be going to another new school, Twabuku, which is out in Sindi village, where we held a week of holiday club last year. I went to visit the school the other day and lots of the smaller children started singing the banana song quietly when they saw me..that shows how catchy it is, we haven’t been there since August and then just for a couple of days. The head teacher is very keen for the program to begin. The drive out, through traditional villages, will be interesting for our volunteers, a real contrast to town life.

We were lucky enough to see the lunar rainbow at Victoria Falls when it was the super moon. It was spectacular. The falls looked like milk and were breathtakingly beautiful. There were no more than 20 other people there and it always astounds me that more people don’t come and take advantage of this amazing natural phenomenon.

I have a completely new set of volunteers this week and they are all busy on the truck preparing for tomorrows lessons before they go to the falls. Being part of the Bookbus team in Livingstone is such a rewarding experience which lets you see real Zambian life and interact with local people whilst helping the community but also having time for touristy activities. It’s the perfect mix of work and play! We just need more days in the week as there are so many schools that ask me to visit them with the Bookbus.

Kelly May 2012