Zambian kids get a head start

4 July, 2018

Turner volunteers have now built nine school buildings in Africa in the flagship event in the company’s volunteering calendar.  All staff have paid volunteering time and ten years ago the first group of volunteers from around EMEA fundraised and went to Mali to build a three classroom school to replace a dilapadated grass hut. Around 200 volunteers have now fundraised and helped build in Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and two in Zambia. Each school is designed to last at least 25 years and on average educates 100 children a year which means that over 22,000 children will benefit from our projects.

In June this year a team of 23 went to Zambia with ActionAid to build a pre-school in a village just a few miles from one that another Turner team had built two years ago. They found it an amazing experience to sit in the classroom which is now a central part of the children’s and village life. Without pre-schools three to six year old children wouldn’t learn to read and write before starting primary at seven and so they provide a great boost to their education and also means that both parents can work.

The trip started with a night at a relaxing hotel and a visit to the Victoria Falls before the group set off in an overland safari bus to the village, five hours drive away in the heart of the country. ActionAid’s tour company had prepared everything and there was a circle of tents around a camp fire and an excellent dinner was served. They had also provided hot showers and proper toilets so everyone relaxed and got comfortable.

The following day the team walked over to the school where all the children greeted them with traditional songs, poems and dances. The teachers and local dignitaries made speeches and the team all introduced themselves before meeting the builders.

Everything is done by hand and some volunteers made the bricks in a press which then bake hard in the sun before being used to make the walls. Others created a large vegetable garden and dug a trench around its perimeter for a stick fence and the local children were pleased to help and got involved with everything as much as they could. The money fundraised pays for completion of the project are the volunteers are there to lend a hand.

The village is very near the school and volunteers were invited to visit and some were even included in a traditional ceremony. On another day ActionAid took the group to visit a women’s project where the charity provides funds for women to set up enterprises and they were shown an impressive goat farm which is starting to make money.

On the last day the team gave footballs, stationary and many other items that they had bought to the school so that they could distribute it fairly. They also left building boots, goggles and gloves for the builders which again were distributed equally.

The team left the site after five days with the walls up to about seven feet and the builders will complete it within a couple of months so that it can open in September so look out for pictures and updates.