Saturday, 30 July 2016


Teacher Abi, there are too many!!
Too many!!

This was the cry from several of the children as about 50 visitors, Americans and Zambians, descended on Taonga School on the morning of the 18th July. In a way my heart joined their cry but I knew great things were to come!
The 'Arise Africa Bible Week' team had arrived!

During the week that followed the children quickly realised that all of these visitors were a good thing!

The children were split into groups of 6 or 7 and each group had an American visitor and Zambian staff member. The adults all took time to teach the children about God, play with their groups and learn about the children.

Everywhere you looked there was a group of children
Keen listening in the big groups sessions
Through the week there was a real buzz in school. The children arrived early, were very well behaved and even the little ones who are quite shy were responsive and able to recite their memory verses into a megaphone for the rest of the children.

Photo booth fun

 On Friday they had a party. “The best party ever!” There were sports, face painting, a photo booth, a bouncy castle and hotdogs for lunch!

This week I have been gifted the interns (6 of them) to do jobs at school. They almost burnt the school down cleared rubbish, listened to children read, painted and tidied. 

Thank you Arise Africa, Alissa, Megan, Faith and the team for coming in, taking over, loving and teaching!

Almost setting fire to the school

Every child has a hand print


Faith, Me and Megan

Chatting to visitors

Who knew a balloon could be a hat, and sword, and dog... 

Visitors... part 2!

"So, you have visitors, what will you do with them?"


Eat (nsima, the local food)

Eat... cake
Eat... nsima
Teach Marcus to catch
Listen to some music
Go on a safari drive
Play with cheaters
Play with lions

Have a sword fight
Watch movies
Turn the car into a van to collect donations

Paint the school

Test their health and safety awareness...

Read with children

Share work books
Help in lessons

Attend a pretend wedding

Thank you Jo, Suzie, Annabelle, Daniel and Gemma for giving up your time, helping me eat a lot, having fun and for all the jobs you have done. We hope you enjoyed your time at school and look forward to seeing you all again soon! 

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Progress and Visitors

Origami Flowers, made by grade 3.

Two weeks ago we opened school knowing we had one week before three friends arrived to help at school for a few weeks. Between now and when I travel in August we have a constant flow of visitors.  

Just before the girls arrived I taught Grade 3 for a day. It was nice to get back into the classroom for a while. We had a fun day doing some 'off curriculum' lessons. A study done in Zambia a couple of years ago showed that of primary school leavers only 10% could write 100 words about themselves in English - I took this as a challenge.  Grade 7 is the end of primary so these children are 4 school years below the children that were tested. They amazed me with their work! Most of the children wrote between 200-300 words. There was varying levels of spelling but most of it was readable. 

It is always very exciting to get visitors (especially when they bring presents!) and to be able to share whats happening at school with them. Jo and Suzie have been before and it is even more special when they can see how much the school and the children have grown.  For Annabelle it is her first time away from the UK and watching her see things for the first time is fun! 

So far the girls have helped in all the classes and heard some reading. By the time my children reach Grade 2 I like to have them reading and taking books home every week. In a lot of schools here children cant read until Grade 5 or 6. Even then it is very patchy. Talking to some friends the other night they were saying in their school they had 1 copy of a book to share between 50+ pupils. The parents of most of my children can't speak English, let alone read, so reading to people in school is vital. For the class teachers it is very hard to find time to regularly listen to them read.

Recently we had a delivery of 4 boxes FULL of books and padded out with warm clothes. Sam organised for us to be able to share some of those books with another school who have no reading books at all. I try to teach the children that although we dont have lots we have much more than many other places and it is important we share what we cant use straight away with other people.  I don't think storing lots of things for the damp or termites to spoil is the right use of things we are given. 

This term I have only taken 1 new child. Christine is the first Albino child to join Taonga. The first week she was here she refused to talk to me saying she didn't know me. I think we have cracked the friendship barrier! In Zambia people with albinism can be treated very badly or with suspicion. I have been very proud of my children who, after having a little 'look' when she arrived, have treated her exactly as they would treat any other new, young child. They help her when she needs help, tell her what to do and let her get on with school life.

Finally... Marcus seems to be growing every time I look at him.  After supper he sidles up to Grandma or Grandad rubbing his hands together asking for 'chocolate'....

 ...normally he shares things nicely, but there is a limit to his kindness!

Natalia and I