We followed the charities’ progress via email updates with great interest, but in March 2014, a dozen of us from ATD travelled to Zambia and visited the schools for ourselves in order to better understand the impact our donation was making.
On our first full day in Zambia, we travelled over three and a half hours off-road to the extremely remote Kauwe Basic School. Until recently, the children and teachers’ only option for water was from a stream a few km away. It was a contaminated water source that they shared with the local wildlife and inevitably put them at risk of disease. Thankfully a new borehole has now dramatically improved the quality of life for everyone. Clean water is now available from a pump in the centre of the school grounds and means that the children can now enjoy clean drinking water without the risk of falling ill.
For us, clean water is an everyday commodity that we all take for granted, but for the children of Kauwe School, they are taught that ‘water is life’. It was a phrase that we heard many times as the children sang and danced for us – quite beautifully – to show their appreciation.
Decent conditions at school are particularly important since many of the children have to walk up to 25km to reach it. Further small improvements would make an immense difference to schools such as this, both in terms of education as well as the quality of life. In particular they need better latrines, more classrooms and IT equipment. At the moment they teach ICT but they don’t have computers, only pictures of them.
Also on our itinerary were schools that have not yet received aid. Here the children do not have easy access to clean water. The latrines are quite inadequate – for example just two shared between 400 pupils. Classrooms and learning facilities are very poor. An example of such is the Nampuyami Community School.
We were the first outsiders to ever visit and we quickly realised that the children, and indeed most of the adults, had never seen a white face in the flesh before. In May 2014 a borehole funded by Attraction Tickets Direct will be in place, which will transform the life of the school. During our visit we had a great game of football with the kids. We amazed them with a map of the world and helped them understand where Zambia was and how far we had travelled to visit them. And we heard a deeply moving speech from the headmaster. This school was in desperate need of support and we were happy to make a commitment to provide funds for latrines and new classrooms over the next 3 years.
During our week in Zambia we visited four schools altogether. They all had a high percentage of orphans due to the aids epidemic. They all had similar problems: a lack of adequate facilities, a lack of qualified teachers and a lack of good food. But the children welcomed us with laughter, song and dance. They read us poetry. They enjoyed some of the 10,000 Haribo sweets that we brought with us. And they played some quite brilliant football with the new footballs that we gave them. For their next stars, Arsene Wenger and Simon Cowell should look no further than Zambia!
We intend to go back to these schools in a couple of years and we’re hopeful that with our renewed donations and the continuing work of charities such as Just a Drop and The Butterfly Tree, we’ll see further improvements.
It was an incredibly humbling experience for all of us and we would not be in a position to help these communities, if it wasn’t for our loyal Attraction Tickets Direct customers. We continue to be grateful for your custom, as are the children of the schools we visited.
Founder, Attraction Tickets Direct