Children in the Wilderness (CITW) Zambezi recently hosted two enthusiastic volunteers from the UK who were on a three-week trip to Zimbabwe during their summer vacation. Keen to get involved and see what we do, they had a jam-packed schedule. Reflecting on their trip, they had the following to say:
Our time with CITW far surpassed our expectations and we are beyond grateful for the opportunity that we were given to volunteer for this wonderful organisation. We were able to see and get involved with so much, from helping children with English literacy at Jabulani Primary School, to seeing the women’s income generation projects in action in Hwange. For the first three weeks we were based in Victoria Falls working closely with the Zambezi office, visiting schools around Victoria Falls itself, and also schools in Livingstone, across the border in Zambia. We also helped with the distribution of solar lights to Grade 6 students at various schools in Zimbabwe. Due to a lack of electricity in rural areas, solar lights give children the opportunity to study in the evening. As many have to walk long distances to and from school and have chores to complete once they are home, it is often dark by the time they get the opportunity to do their homework. Being able to visit both rural and urban schools gave us an idea of just how wide CITW extend their outreach. The urban schools tended to have a larger enrolment compared with the rural schools, with one rural school having an enrolment of just 22. However, CITW can make such a noticeable difference no matter the number.
We were able to get involved with the literacy training for teachers that CITW facilitates, where teachers are provided with a better understanding of how to teach literacy to students using a variety of methods. These differ quite substantially from what they are used to, utilising more practical and fun techniques such as games, books, and memory activities to help children learn and comprehend more effectively. We were able to see how beneficial this will be to both students and teachers, with the teachers showing much enthusiasm and excitement about the material given to them.
An outstanding moment for both of us was helping teach English literacy at Jabulani Primary School two days a week. Working so closely with the students was not only extremely rewarding, but also eye-opening as we worked with Grade 6 students, many of whom had little to no understanding of English literacy. We loved getting to know the students, and they made our job much easier due to their incredible enthusiasm to learn. It was so interesting to see first-hand how CITW help the school, particularly with regard to teaching literacy.
In our last week, we were fortunate to be able to travel to the Wilderness camps in Hwange National Park and visit the communities. We visited several villages in which CITW work, including the primary and secondary schools in each. We spent time in some of the eco-gardens that are looked after by Eco-Club members and were able to take part in some of the Eco-Club lessons. We had the most incredible experience over our three weeks, and it was amazing to see the joy that is evident within these communities despite how difficult life can be. Zimbabwe and Children in the Wilderness has stolen a part of our heart and we would love to come back in the future.