It’s Monday 30th July 2012 and Project Luangwa

I was at a Project Luangwa meeting the other day, which is something new for me!  Fuelled by the enthusiasm of it all, I realized that it has been ages since we have had any type of news on the project and schools, so I thought that it would be great to give you an update.

As I said, I am new to this whole thing and even though I’ve been living here in South Luangwa for a long time, I’m embarrassed to admit that my knowledge of the intricacies of what needs to be done in the community is minimal.  I couldn’t believe it when Karen casually mentioned that once girls reach puberty they have to miss school for 1 week each month as there are inadequate washing facilities for them.

So before I bore you with what I learnt I thought it would be nice to have a brief word from Karen. She and her husband Dave, work ‘all hours’ running Project Luangwa and for them, just as for all of us here in South Luangwa, there is no such thing as an average day.  Over to Karen . . .

“Thanks Emily and you’re right, there is no such thing as an average day, however we do try to plan our days. Unfortunately, these plans usually last only until about half an hour after breakfast.  We split most of the work between us, usually with Dave taking care of the accounts and infrastructure whilst I deal with the social and community issues such as sponsorship, schools, textbooks and the like. Nearly every day will throw up the unexpected!

Girls  getting ready for classThe  boys

Basically at Project Luangwa we look at what stops a child going to school and getting an education. The reasons are many, from the parents being unable to afford uniform or school fees to a lack of classrooms or even a school.    But we don’t want to just get ‘bums on the classroom benches’ (if the school is lucky enough to have any that is), we want kids to have a good standard of education.  So we provide extra teachers, text books and desks, science blocks and libraries, better toilet facilities and clean drinking water.  And this means there’s a wide variety of jobs to do each day.

Learning timeAll  smiles

But talking of “bums on seats”, currently just 25% of girls make it as far as grade 10 and high school and the number drops to less than 8% by the time they reach grade 12.  So why do fewer girls go to school and why do they often attain poorer marks than the boys?  Well, Emily has pointed out one reason already and there are plenty more delicate issues that need to be dealt with in a way that doesn’t confront local traditions and culture.

Hard  at workWorking hard

It isn’t all about girls either. Boys too have their problems – one has recently asked me if I will arrange for him to change schools.  He goes to a boarding school with good facilities so why is he desperate to change? No, he is not being bullied, and yes, he gets on with the teachers and has friends there.  It’s down to girls.  He attends a mixed school and is a bit too popular (he says). Girls stop him thinking about school work and he is worried about his exam results – hence the request for an all-boys school.

A  student with his readerReading time

So yes, there is no such thing as an average day for either Dave or myself.  We must expect the unexpected and be prepared to work out the cost of a toilet block in the morning (about $6900 for a special girls’ toilet block with washing facilities, by the way) and act as Agony Aunt in the afternoon.  But we do have the best jobs in the world. “

Well there we go, so if anyone fancies learning more on this subject have a look at the Project Luangwa website.

On the wildlife front (very quickly), Nkwali has spent the last week or so absolutely surrounded by elephants.  The ebony trees are fruiting and for these guys it is like the ultimate chocolate truffle is to Emily!  I got a rather significant fright as I leapt off the office step towards the kitchen only to leap into an elephant – pirouetting in mid air I launched myself back into the office with everyone wandering what all the noise was about.  Warning everyone (loudly, but obviously not loudly enough), Kiki then had a similar experience but reacted with significantly more “cool” than I. He stood up to the guy and definitely showed him who was boss!

EliesReaching up to get to fruit

So on that note, cheerio and have a great week.  Catch up same time same place next week!

Emily

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