Sunday, 26 May 2013

Preparing the Book Bus for 2013

The Book Bus in Ecuador is gearing up to start working with five schools in Puerto Lopez from 24th June 2013. Following discussions with the teachers we are developing a 10 week programme of reading activities based on themes relevant to the national curriculum,  everyday local topics and, to add international flavour,  to our other Book Bus projects in Africa and India. The schools in Ecuador are especially keen to develop links with schools in Africa and you can see why. The children here live much of their lives on the beach; whales, dolphins and sharks are commonly sighted and their family income is made from the sea. Compare this to life at our South Luangwa project in land-locked Zambia, where elephants, hippos and crocodiles can be seen on the way to school and where many of the families live off subsistence farming.

It's gratifying to know that children from these two very different communities have excelled at school, progressed to further education college and won scholarships to universities in the USA and Canada. The Book Bus continues to improve child literacy rates by working with teachers and pupils alike so that more children can have the opportunity to boost their education and their prospects for the future.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

A New Term and A New School!

The first week of the second school term in Zambia is over and we have had a mixed week of previously visited schools and new schools, of large crowds of youngsters and small classes of big kids, of books that are old favourites and brand new ones. The volunteers have come from England, Scotland, Wales, USA and Germany and have ranged in age from mid 20’s to late 60’s! The one thing they have in common is a love of books and a desire to share this passion with the children of Zambia. 
The first week of term is always slightly chaotic, the teachers seem to need a few days to get going, the children have to sweep and clean the school (no caretakers here!) and school fees have to be paid or the requirements brought in. We began the week at some of our established schools and the pupils and teachers were very excited to see the Bookbus back in their communities.
On Thursday it was time for a brand new school, Simoonga Primary school is situated about 15km from Livingstone in the village of Simoonga, on the way to Sinde village where the Bookbus has been visiting for the past year.  The headteacher of the school approached me last year to ask for inclusion on our programme, so he was very happy when I arrived at school to ask if Bookbus could start visiting.
We have been driving through this village for months accompanied by the shouts of “one book, one book!” So now hopefully the “one book” village as it is known will be able to benefit from the resources of the Bookbus both in term time and with a holiday programme, featuring the Book in every hand scheme.

We worked with grades 5 and 6, each class having about 40 pupils. They were intrigued by the yellow shirted m’zungus and  our books and activities. We began every group with a globe and a few stories about the countries that all the different volunteers came from. The children were eager to see and it was great to witness them all crowding round the globes and the books. Hopefully over the next 5 months these kids will become more confident readers and will get used to being creative and imaginative. Both the class teachers were really happy with the sessions and loved looking at the books themselves. Another good partnership is underway.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Zambia 2013 - The BookBus is Back!!

The Bookbus is back on the road in Livingstone, Zambia for the 2013 season!

The first two weeks of project this year have been during the school holidays so we have been running holiday clubs which, as always, attract so many children, the number increasing steadily over the week.
The Bookbus is here!

The two weeks have been very different but with the same fun, enthusiasm and cries of “bookbussy” following wherever we have been.

Week one, we spent at Zweilopili community school in the Dambwa area of Livingstone. This is one of the more densely populated areas of town and many families will be living in one room, maybe the parents are selling at market to raise some money leaving the older children to take care of the younger ones. We were expecting maybe 50 or so on our first day but there were over 100 and by the Friday is was almost 300!! A lot of flexibility and preparation each night from the volunteers ensured that the week went smoothly and no child was left out, despite the huge numbers!

With the younger children we read Brown Bear, Brown Bear and made Bear headbands after being on a “Bear Hunt”. We made 280 sets of lions’ paws after reading “Cats cats and more cats.” Elephant heads and colourful birds appeared after the “Rumble in the Jungle.” The bigger kids read about bears, lions and snakes and attempted quizzes, anagrams and word searches, some even making up their own.

Every day we left accompanied by smiles, waves and shouts of see you tomorrow, but the week sped by and soon it was Friday and time to say bye for the last time during these holidays.

During the second week we were based out in the village of Sinde, only about 15km from town but a world away from town life. On the way to school we have to drive through the national park and we saw giraffe, zebra and wildebeest, not bad for the morning commute!  In the village the families live mostly in mud and thatched homes and there is no running water or electricity. In charge there is a headman, who the volunteers were lucky enough to meet during a village tour, which one of the preschool teachers took them on, so they could see firsthand how people life in these Zambian villages.

Every day we were greeted by kids all along the way, waving and smiling and then running along behind the Book Bus, eager for the activities to start. We parked up outside the village pre-school and soon more children emerged from the bush, we started with about 30and ended on Friday with 150! Word spreads fast when the Book Bus is around. We taught the children under the big trees, dividing the big and small ones and encouraging reading, creative skills and imagination!

On Friday we continued our “Book in Every Hand” program and gave each child their very own book to take home, we had to have some strategic lining up, organised by the big kids, to ensure the children got the right level of book and that chaos didn’t erupt. The children were very excited and it was great to see them all walking off into the elephant grass with their colourful crowns, proudly holding their new book. This is literacy in motion at it’s best!

Kelly - May 2013