27 May 2019

We have had a good day today.

We went to visit one of our orphans who attends the school for the deaf at Magwero. This is a residential school so Stephen ferries him between school and home in the village at the start and end of each term, and he also gets visits from the Zoe team on every visit and also from Stephen during term time. The Headteacher showed us round the school and it is like a community in its own right where people work together, live together and they also grow food in a garden which is cooked in the school kitchen. It is good to see how much progress our orphan has made since he joined the school in 2016, and he seems very happy there. The whole school seems to be well run. We visited each class with the headteacher and tried out the one or two words of sign language that we had learned. Zambia uses the American version of sign language which is different to that we use in the UK.

Offroading by bike with five bundles of charcoal

Driving around in Zambia we have seen a number of interesting things being transported by bicycle including a mattress, four car tyres, huge lengths of sugar cane, large amounts of charcoal, live goats and also a pig on his way to market covered with leaves to keep him cool. We understand that John calls this a “pig in the fridge”.

We have another orphan who attends Chizongwe Technical Secondary School which is the only such school in the Eastern Province and we understand it ranks the highest out of all the other such schools in Zambia. This is also a residential school so Stephen performs the same taxi service at the beginning and end of each term taking both these boys to and from their respective schools. Chizongwe is a selective school which is high performing (even for UK standards), and the school uniform is a black suit, white shirt and black bow tie – the pupils look very smart and are extremely well behaved. The motto of the school is “Knowledge and Integrity”. For our orphan to have come from the village primary school into this high performing establishment of national renown is entirely down to his own efforts, as he has had to achieve the high grades required to make him eligible to apply, and we are extremely proud of him. A big thank you also to his sponsors because we know that the fees for secondary school are higher than those for a primary school.

When we fly out here we bring all our clothes and personal possessions in our carry-on luggage but we each also take a suitcase filled with goodies for the orphans and the schools. Clothes for the children are always needed, and we travel around the chiefdom with the suitcases in the back of the truck. When we see one of the orphans in need of clothes, we rummage in the cases to find something suitable. Caroline has three children, and is particularly good at this. She has taken a great deal of satisfaction handing on the clothes that her own children used to wear to the orphans.

We were touched by how interested everyone is here in the political situation in the UK and the Brexit issue is being followed closely here by Zambians. There is interest here in the UK and in British things in general – we met a Headteacher today who supports Aston Villa!

The plan to buy a helicopter has really taken off. We have found an airstrip outside Chipata where we can park it, and Chris is already on Amazon choosing the one he wants – Stephen wants a blue one. If we have any money left on this trip, we will be making a down payment on a suitable machine.

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