Friday, 9 September 2016

Mfuwe Project, Zambia. Week 2 - Going on a Lion Hunt

Book Bus George at Uyoba School.
But where are all the children?

This has been a slightly different Book Bus experience, in that usually the Mfuwe bus travels to multiple schools, and works with different age groups for a relatively short time. This time, we’ve been based at Uyoba Primary School, taking advantage of their fantastic library facility, and working with a core of the same children over the two weeks, as well as some who have come for a few days, but couldn’t come every day. The dedication of some of these children is amazing. There are a small group of girls who’ve been coming late every day. We found out that they’re coming later because they’re walking three miles from home to Uyoba, then the same distance home again at the end. This, remember, during their school holiday, to come to a holiday project.

The outdoor classroom,
storytelling under the tree in Mfuwe

We started the week with a Bear Hunt, using Michael Rosen’s text. Although there aren’t any bears in Zambia, the library has plenty of bear-based books, and the children took to the rhyming repeating text with gusto, finishing with a bear hunt around the playground, with the bear being found in George’s driver seat. We followed this up with a lion hunt. We changed the text slightly so that the children could be lions hunting, rather than be hunting a lion, and this gave us the excuse to make lion masks, using glitter glue, googly eyes, and other staples of the Book Bus arts program. Once everything had dried, we
took off around the playground as a lion hunt before discovering a

Book Bus George's driver and reading
mentor Raggie assessing children's
reading skills in Mfuwe

person(!), running away, and ending up under the covers. This was so  successful that the preschool group wanted to do it too, so we repeated it (with less glitter!) with them the next day. A good time was had by all.

Over the last week, we've developed - almost accidentally - a theme of looking at books which are about being an individual. Giraffes Can’t Dance led to some brilliant pictures of giraffes proving they CAN dance, as long as they have the right music, The Lion Inside by Rachel Bright, with its great Jim Field illustrations, showed the children that “we all have a mouse and a lion inside”, and Elmer, of course, is an elephant who’s different, and comes to accept his differences. Our grand finale is planned to be two giant Elmers (filled from drawing of animals inspired by the Elmer parade, and the colourful animals in ‘Greedy Zebra’), and a drawing of George the bus, filled with pictures of the children (drawn by them), and possibly us too!

Overall, Mfuwe offers a great Book Bus experience. Because of the

Lion masks in Mfuwe

length of time the project has been running, and the impact it has had, everyone recognises George (not to mention the yellow shirts!), and you immediately become part of the community, rather than just another tourist. Children wave as the bus goes past, shouts of “Book Bus!” accompany any journey by George on the road, and the children suddenly appear at school once George is parked. Not to mention, of course, that you’re surrounded by everything which people think of as Africa - daily elephant visits, monkeys, a national park on the doorstep, and a great base at Croc Valley (note: there aren’t any crocodiles in the actual campsite!)

Adrian Thompson