Bwanji!

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Today is my second day in Livingstone and I think I am beginning to relax into Zambian life. It took about 24 hours and three flights to get here yesterday. When my plane was landing in Lusaka I saw the most beautiful burnt orange sunrise. It was just like you would see in a classic picture of Africa. It was funny walking off the BA plane (bearing in mind this is an International airport) straight across the runway, no tunnel or pick up bus – I knew I was in Africa! Flying from Lusaka to Livingstone was beautiful – There were a lot of circular crop patterns in the fields and a few fires where people were burning maize after the rainy season. As we approached Livingstone I could see the mist from the falls rising high into the air. The Zambezi river was a stunning sight. The plane was tiny so there was so much turbulence that I was lifted off my seat on a couple of occasions- good job I don’t get travel sick!

I am staying with Indeco Community School’s head teacher Kay Litebele and her family in a compound called Dambwa North not far from the school. They have been extremely welcoming and are going out of their way to make sure that my stay is comfortable. Kay is an amazing woman who has set up Indeco community school and now is head teacher. She also works in Indeco Divine Hands sewing bags and uniforms and funds herself through Victoria Falls University where she is studying a degree in Education. She said to me that she wants to continue studying for all of her life. She strikes me as an extremely driven women with a passion for educating children from deprived backgrounds who works tirelessly to improve Indeco.

I am working with The School Club Zambia which is run by Lois Cochrane and supports community schools in Livingstone (Indeco) and by Lake Kariba (Siansowa) through financial management, networking and securing donors. Lois hopes that in the near future they will be able to role out the model of these two schools to other community schools in the area.

Indeco is based in an old abattoir and still bears the name on the wall. There is a small office where I will be based, one large classroom, one small classroom and some housing for a teacher. The classroom is very basic with wooden desks and a chalk board and not many pictures or posters on the walls. Students either come in in the morning or the afternoon depending on their grade because there aren’t enough teachers or room to teach them all at once. The books are quite scarce and Kay was saying that sometimes 5 children share one exercise book.

As well as Indeco school there is Indeco Divine Hands which is a sewing workshop just off the larger classroom.  Three ladies (Conceptor, Damalass and Chimuneya) work here to make the handbags and uniforms which are sold for profit. At the moment this profit is being re-invested in the business but it is hoped in the future that it will be used to keep Indeco school self – sufficient. The school struggles to maintain teachers who are not paid so their aim is to take a small wage from some of the upcoming income generation projects. Chimuneya and Kay have been working today to make new curtains to make Divine hands truly divine! It’s amazing how some colourful material has really transformed the sewing room and it displays the handbags beautifully.

My first full day at Indeco has been very productive. Lois and I sat down to talk through the organisation and its finances. We have worked out that there are several areas that I can help with, particularly transferring Indeco accounts to excel, creating a fixed asset register and counting stock, costing items so that an accurate budget can be created and planning workshops with the LIWOMADI (Livingstone women make a difference) women. We began the process of drawing up organisational charts both to help my understanding and so that they can include these in the reports that they will soon have to produce for their donors.

I feel like there is a tremendous amount of work to be done in the next two weeks that I am in Livingstone, I just hope that there is time for me to help Lois and Kay with everything they need me for!

African anticipation

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Next week I am leaving my life in Edinburgh for an adventure to Africa.

Over the next three months I am going to be spending time in Zambia, Kenya and Uganda working with small NGOs and charities helping them to improve their financial self-sufficiency. I am going to break up my volunteering projects with a few safaris, beautiful beaches and mountain treks!

I have wanted to travel and volunteer in Africa for a few years now and finally decided on going through Accounting for International Development (AfID). In Zambia I am going to be working with a charity which supports community schools in Zambia. Community schools provide free education and meals for the poorest children by being financially self-sufficient. In Uganda I will be spending time with a foundation whose projects include: caring for people living with HIV/AIDS, orphans and other vulnerable children (whose parents have dies of Aids); providing increased access to safe water and sanitation (wells); and educating people on basic sanitation and hygiene.

I am expecting a huge challenge and culture shock but am so looking forward to working with some inspiring people and seeing some fantastic sights.

Nervous excitement is running high at the moment. I finish up at work tomorrow and then have a week of frantic organising and packing before flying next Sunday. I hope with this blog that I can keep everyone who is interested back at home informed of what I up to – subject to sporadic electricity and internet connection!

Love to all, see you in August!