18 November 2012

Went to church for the 8am service at St Pauls, the Anglican church in Chipata. This is the church where John’s mum used to bring him along as a kid leading him by the ear. John was a bit more compliant this morning, and went of his own accord – and he didn’t misbehave at all, well not much anyway.

Sunday service at St Paul’s

We were personally welcomed by Absolom the churchwarden, and had to say a few words about who we were and why we were there. There was a mix of music including African worship songs and traditional hymns like “Guide me now Thou Great Jehovah” sung with wonderful harmonies. It was also interesting to see bibles printed in Chinyanja.

We sat with Naomi and her team after the service to discuss the St Pauls orphans project. They are supporting an orphan house in a different tribal area, and a number of individuals (total about 40) through school etc. They are also providing training and support for vulnerable women. They would like us to help them – a lack of resources is preventing them from doing more. There is so much need everywhere.

After lunch we gathered up Stephen and our bicycles and headed back into the Mnukwa tribal area. We got big hugs from Agnes when she saw we had brought her a bike. It was really good to be doing something tangible that will make a big difference to her life.

It is good to be able to join up the work of our fundraisers with the outcomes of the project, for example, Tracey, the money you raised last month for the Zambia project selling christmas cards paid for Agnes’s bicycle. Thanks to everyone who is supporting the project by giving and prayers.

The other bike was for the Chief’s Headman or Nduna and we drove off the dirt road out into the bush along a dirt track which soon became impassable to anything except a 4 wheel drive truck. Thankfully our vehicle and driver were up to the challenge and John picked his way along the track taking the right line into/over/around the obstacles and deep crevasses.

The Nduna was pleased to see us when we got to his village and he introduced us to his family. We often get surrounded by inquisitive children in the villages and John gives them a smoke and mirrors show using his magic lantern (Ipad).

Village children in Chief Mnukwas chiefdom.

The Nduna wanted to show us a school that needed support so we drove back to the dirt road then a further 10k into the bush in the opposite direction.

The Chambawa Basic School has 384 pupils between grades 1-7. There are only 4 teachers. There used to be more but they left due to poor accommodation – living in grass huts. There are only 2 classrooms so they use the church and an open grass hut as temporary classrooms. They have no electricity or running water and are working with very few books and resources, and the pupil/staff ratio means the children attend school in 3 shifts, providing less than 3 hours teaching per pupil per day.

Even so they are managing to deliver the national curriculum subjects which include English, Maths, Science, Chinyanga, Social Development Studies and Creative Technical Studies.

We were very impressed with the two young teachers we met, Macfallen and Mkhata. These were newly qualified teachers who had given up the life of the big city in Lusaka to come and teach in a village school. They are salaried by the Ministry of Education but their accommodation and amenities are very basic. The whole village is inaccessible during the rains so teachers have to live in the village.

We broke our own rule about not driving in the dark because we had stayed so long in the villages. It was also raining with thunder and lightning which was spectacular, including orange lightning and small whirlwinds, but we got back safely.

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