I’m staying in Livingstone and work in a village called Mukuni. School starts at 7.10 so its a 5.30 start in the morning to get two local buses to get to the village on time. The school has over 1000 pupils and caters for grades 1-12, all of primary and secondary education. It’s very chaotic: there are a lot of times when teachers don’t show up so the children are left on their own. The class monitor will write a passage on the board for the others to copy. I am very much enjoying teaching maths (thanks Mum and Christian for the help), am doing a little bit of civics with them and am attempting to learn African history because they want me to teach that subject as well. They are not used to anything other than a “copy and paste” method of teaching so they were confused that I expected them to try the maths exercises themselves first before giving them any solutions!
The school has boarding houses because some pupils live very far away (one lives 55km away). In the girls’ boarding house, there are 28 girls sleeping two to a bed in one room with others sleeping in the corridor outside. They all cook for themselves. I will never complain about Wilson’s again!
The village itself complies with all African stereotypes: red sandy soil, goats and chickens wondering around everywhere, little straw topped huts, mango trees. Despite it bring relatively well-off (it is near the Victoria Falls and therefore benefits from the tourist trade), there are massive social problems such as alcoholism, early pregnancies and low life expectancy linked to the high level of HIV/AIDS. Thanks to Marion for the idea: I have had some skirts made from local fabrics by the village tailor: a nice little adventure. Here is a picture of his sewing machine.
At the weekends, we have been doing normal tourist things! We saw the Falls from Zambia and from Zimbabwe. We swam in the Devil’s Pool at the top of the Falls. We go to the posh hotels for a sundowner drink and watch elephants crossing the Zambezi. I went on a sunset cruise on the river and saw hippos, elephants, buffaloes, giraffes and a crocodile. We spent the day white-water rafting yesterday: very fun but scary when the boat flips and you get momentarily stuck underneath. With it being the dry season, the rapids are at a good level to raft on. There are some New Zealanders we are friends with who are here to work with the rafting company. They are in their kayaks by the raft in case anyone falls out too far from the raft and they need to rescue them. The rest of the time, they play tricks in the white water.
We also went to the local regatta here. Don’t think Henley: think dragon boat racing. Very chaotic, very hilarious. The deputy minister for sport turned up to present the prizes. I hope you can see the boats in the picture.
The best moment this week was visiting our friend in his extremely remote village and having a braai by the river into the night, listening to hippos in the water and watching monkeys then fireflies through the trees. The sunsets are beautiful here.