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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 

Volunteers' Stories

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CHRISTINE RABBETTS
British

Teaching Underprivileged Children in a School on a voluntary placement in Livingstone, Zambia

         

I think Zambia is an amazing country and that Livingstone is a very safe, friendly place. The locals were very good to us and appreciated what we were doing as volunteers.

The school was beautiful and I loved working there. The children and staff were inspirational, surviving on what they had and by funding the school entirely through donations. The staff and children were so welcoming and they were very accommodating to us. Lameck, the Zambia Organiser, was very good. He was a lovely man who did his utmost to help us all out in any way he could. He was always on call and visited us regularly and provided support when our group experienced a few problems, such as someone becoming ill.

The experiences I gained from volunteering in Livingstone are priceless and I hope to one day revisit the school and town as we made so many friends and memories.

I think most people would love the placement, especially if you like children and working in challenging environments which lack valuable resources. But, most of all, for people who would like to see a very welcoming country in Africa and help make a bit of difference in an amazing setting, only a few minutes from the stunning Victoria Falls.

Can you describe a typical day?

We would generally be picked up at 7.15am by our driver Watson. Watson drove us the 17km out of Livingstone to the school, which involved driving through the local game park, so giraffe sightings were a regular occurrence. The school was next to Tongabezi Lodge and the Zambezi River.

The children had to be in school at 7.30am, although teachers didn't arrive until 8am as the children would read with the assistants till 8am. If we arrived in time I would go to the classroom and help with the reading.

The duties varied between the different grades but were mainly assisting the teacher. I was asked to take a lot of the English lessons for grade 6, as well as marking and working with the slower learners.

All of the lessons were planned and used text books so we didn't have to do any planning. Lessons would sometimes take place outside in the morning as it was too cold in the classrooms. We would have break at 10.30am for 30 minutes where we sat in the library/staffroom with the teachers and had bread and tea. Lessons would then continue until 1pm.

Every day grade 6 would have English and Maths, then a mixture of French, Tonga, Science, Religious Studies and PE.

At 1pm we had lunch for 1 hour in the lodge canteen. At 2pm the children were meant to come back to school for afternoon activities, although not all of them did! The activities ranged from sport, although this was mainly clearing the field and marking out a track, art, poetry and performing arts.

We set up an art club and a music club where we taught recorders and keyboard. It was great teaching the kids something new and seeing them develop from your teaching. We also did cricket and football with the older kids, and games with the younger children. Afternoon activities ended at 3.30pm.

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