Facebook Pinterest YouTube  Email us     


contact us | request a call back | brochure | reviews | login




Volunteers' Stories





Teaching Orphans on a voluntary placement in Livingstone, Zambia


It has now been a full week of volunteering at the Community School. If we said we have loved every minute of it so far, that would be a big, fat, hot and sweaty lie! It has been pretty tough. Both physically and emotionally.

The only thing that we would change would be the heat though. It is getting to about 45 degrees Celsius. The school doesn't have any cooling system in place including fans.

We got to the school on Monday we glad we had worn our walking shoes. The first thing we did was go for a walk to see how some of the children lived.

One child lives an hour walk from the school and sleeps in a tiny little mud and straw hut that he has to share with his brother. The hut would be about half the size of a disabled toilet cubicle you would find in a shopping center. His three sisters share a slightly bigger hut that is also the kitchen.

There is no electricity and the closest source of water is about a kilometre and a half away at the communal pump. This pump also occasionally breaks, so the village has no real access to water when that happens. The pump was not working for a couple of days this week. When that is the case the school attendance drops dramatically until people are able to access water again.

The school is lucky that it has its own water pump so the children have access to water all day. This pump also provides half of the community with water too.

A lot of the children at the school are orphans who are being cared for by relatives. One child is being cared for by his uncle who is only 21 himself. Not only has he cared for this boy by himself since we was 15 he also has a small farm that is his only source of income.

The children only go to school for half a day so that they can work for the other half and help their parents or relatives if they need to. The kids might be put to work on the small farms, collecting firewood to sell or even crushing rock in extreme heat that is sold by the wheelbarrow full for the equivalent of $1.

It sounds as if these kids live a pretty bleak existence but they all come to school with bright smiles and are ready to learn.

When asking the kids what they want to be when they grow up their answers are the same as kids in Australia. They want to be pilots, soldiers, teachers, nurses and farmers when they grow up.

For the next couple of weeks the school is a couple of teachers short for various reasons. There are no substitute teachers so we have been given the grade six class to teach. The highlight of the day for both them and us would have to be the sport. This week they learned how to kick an Australian Rules footy.

There are some kids there that I imagine talent scouts would take a keen interest in. They seem to be naturals. Today they played T-Ball... Well a very modified rules version. It must have been quite a sight as we gathered a pretty strong crowd of kids and adults from the community. It was great fun. The Wombat Team beat the Platypus Team.....


We learned so much this past week while volunteering at the school.

We helped them with maths, science, social studies, English and of course more sport. We helped the kids write letters to students in Australian schools.

We were also able to put the money that everyone donated back at home to good use by going shopping with the principal of the school. We were able to buy much needed items such as teachers guides, work books, dusters for the black board, poster paper, reams of A4 paper, story books, cleaning supplies for the toilets, dictionaries, bags for all the balls that we took over and other bits and pieces.

We were still unable to spend all the money so we gave the principal the rest to spend on more books and to go towards supplies for the new vegetable garden.

The money will even go towards one boy who doesn't have any shoes as his family are unable to afford to buy him any, that is if an old pair of Corrine's runners that she has given to the principal don't fit him.

We are in two minds about the shoes that we have left. We hope that they fit him because they are still in good condition, and at the same time we are hoping that they don't fit him because boys of that age should not have to wear second hand ladies shoes and will get a new pair from the money. Either way it will be an improvement on his current shoes that have been hand stitched back together.

We were able to see how some of the items we purchased make a direct impact on the school. The cleaning products for the toilets were put to immediate use as the toilets were in such a bad shape. After a hard work, and a few buckets of water along with the new disinfectant the toilets were now available for use by the students, the first time in months.

For our last day we gave the kids a special treat. We took in oranges, watermelon and fairy bread for them to enjoy but not before one of the kids (the one with out shoes) lead the rest of the class in a prayer to say thanks for us visiting the school and providing the food.

It was amazing how much a couple of pieces of oranges and watermelon meant to the kids. Fruit such as oranges should not be seen as a treat for children, it should be something that any kid has the opportunity to enjoy. Some children even put the second piece of orange into their pockets for later on in the day but made sure it was out of sight from others so that they would be able to enjoy it on their own later on.

This simple act of providing some fruit really highlighted to us the dire situation these kids face and some of the basics we accept as normal is not the norm for other places in the world. It was a huge reality check even after we thought we understood the situations the children faced.

We are absolutely amazed by the children and their ability to survive some heart wrenching conditions in their home environments and still turn up to class with a smile on their face and want to learn.

We give a huge praise to Catherine, the head teacher at the school and the work she does, not only from an academic sense but also from a social welfare perspective.

Although we have been out of the schooling system in Australia for a few years, the lengths that Catherine has had to go to encourage the children to attend school and be involved, would surpass any community involvement that a principal would be required to complete in Australia.

The experience and time we spent with Linda Community School and the children is difficult to put into words, but one thing for sure is there will be a fund raiser held next year to raise funds for this school and to hopefully allow the teachers at the school to provide a more enriching learning environment for the children.

We now pack our bags for the last time on this journey, where we will then head to Johannesburg, a stop over for less than 24 hours, where we will catch up with some friends, before heading home.

More Information about your Trip with Travellers

List of ALL PROJECTS in Zambia