If your tush is ready for the bumps...
We thought that we had gotten into a daily groove—wake up, breakfast, walk three miles to the Amos Youth Centre, Scott disappears into the back classroom to teach physics, Ben and Kevin teach youngerstudents of all ages anything from drawing and coloring to English and Algebra, and Marie-Odile, Karen and Julie-Anne work with Director Agness to keep the scholarship interview and other administrative tasks in progress—but the end of the week proved to be far different.
Thursday morning we piled into the bed of a white truck. Destination: Chanyanya. This is the fisherman village where half of our boarding house students are from, not to mention Fred, the Project Manager. In Chanyanya there is no high school so once eighth grade is completed the girls are eligible for marriage and the boys wait around hoping to find work. With the hope of reversing an extremely despairing situation, AYC started the boarding program, offering Chanyanya’s top students the chance to complete high school.
Even in the dry season, the dirt road ride to Chanyanya is scenic. Gigantic termite hills, Baobab trees and rolling “mountains” covered in trees right out of the Lion King make for a beautiful ride…if your tush is ready for the bumps and jumps along the way. Scott explains in Physics terms why those riding near the back of the bed are having an ever bumpier ride. Thanks!
In Chanyanya, we walk through different communities on our way to the harbor. The housing ranges from cement block structure, to one room mud huts with thatched roofs. We quickly realize that the conditions our students in Kafue live in are luxurious compared to some in Chanyanya.
We soon have a crowd of young children following us, eyes wide open, amazed at this pack of “bazungu” in their village. We also visit the MCZ Vocation Training Centre which is run by good friends of ours, Joe Hamweene and Nate Crossley (also an AEP volunteer). Students are busy typing away on computers in IT class, cutting fabric in tailoring class, carving wood sculptures in the traditional crafts class and just hanging out playing pool in the rec room.
Once we reach the harbor, we see a hustling little market with women selling tomatoes, fish and more. Due to major flooding four years ago, this part of Chanyanya is still being rebuilt. The government has run electrical lines as an incentive, but everyone seems to still question what will happen when the next flood will inevitably arrive.
Friday was a whole other experience all together. We witnessed the entire spectrum of social classes in Zambia. First, the bus ride to Livingstone, home to the Victoria Falls (one of the world’s natural wonders). We usually pay the extra three dollars to be on the “luxury” bus, but miscommunication resulted with us on the regular bus. Squished like sardines, the aisles full of bags, children, TVs, you name it, we traveled the road to Livingstone in true Zambian style. Our entertainment selection went like this… traditional and Christian music videos by Zambian artists, a Nigerian film with a loose plotbased on Cinderella (the ladies on the trip enjoyed this chick flick), Broken Arrow with a young John Travolta and Christian Slater, and then ended with an Oscar-winning performance by WWE wrestlers, this was easily the highlight of the bus ride (the men on the trip enjoyed this show!!!).
Seven hours later we reached Livingstone hot, dehydrated, and tired. We walked a couple blocks to our lodge called Olga’s. Olga’s is a great initiative that links to a vocational training centre in Livingstone where vulnerable youth are training in catering and hospitality. They then are given the opportunity to work at Olga’s to master their skills and have a first job experience. Run by an Italian NGO, Olga’s is also one of the best meals in Zambia with pasta and pizza that rivalsItaly’s.
We then made our way to the Royal Livingstone for a sunset cocktail. The Royal is the luxury hotel in Livingstone with the best sunset view. Orange, pinks and violets you can’t even imagine shine through a light cloud cover. Elephants are crossing the river in the distance.
From the real Zambia to the luxury afforded by the wealthiest, we have seen it all today.
The AEP Volunteer Team.