|Mercy at work with her students at Chibelo Basic School|
I started my gap year in January at Mother Theresa, a teaching project where I taught young children between the ages of 2 and 6. They had a personal teacher and I was required to do a bit of work which, unfortunately, I felt was not helping much. This caused me to look for another opportunity to give back at Cheshire Home, where I moved to in February. This is a place where people with disabilities are taken care of. Some of them live there and others stay at their various homes. I taught one Grade 9 and four Grade 7 pupils there, but even they already had teachers and so I felt a bit redundant. After my two experiences at Mother Theresa and Cheshire Home, I still felt that I was not making as big an impact as I wanted to so I decided to move on to Chibelo Basic school.
I began at Chibelo in March where I started by coaching netball. It was quite successful and our team was able to compete against two other schools. In these games, Chibelo lost one game and tied in the other. Unfortunately, I could not continue coaching netball due to the fact that the netball court was not in good shape (it had only one ring and was not demarcated). Furthermore, the team had no jerseys and equipment to use, such as netballs. Because of the lack of resources, I decided to start teaching a group of Grade 9 students and a handful of Grade 8’s at Chibelo. This experience was quite impressive because most pupils were interested in my extra lessons and were willing to learn.
Over the course of my gap year I faced a few challenges. One was finding a place to carry out my community service. I had to move from location to location and, once I found a stable place, they did not have the necessary facilities. Beyond this, organizing the pupils was the most challenging part of gap year. This was because most of the pupils lived far from the school and were not motivated to return after lunch for extra tutoring.
Above all, gap year was a good experience because I learned a lot about myself. I now know some of my weaknesses and strengths.