Monday, November 26, 2012

If at first you don't succeed

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.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Restless Development

I attended the Restless Development program from April 4th to July 20th, 2012.  After being taught as peer educators by Restless staff, I and three other people were sent to Mututu community of Chisombo district in Kabwe.  The aims of the program were to bring development in the community as well as to educate in-going school youth.  They were to be taught on such matters as entrepreneurship, sexual and reproductive health, and what steps were to be followed in the event of a civil rights violation. 

Facilitating to youths was very interesting, especially concerning sexual and reproductive health issues.  They were very open to ask and answer questions during sessions.  They understood very well.  When it came to events and workshops, the young people presented very well to others. 

We had meetings with men and women of the community.  We taught them entrepreneurship and financial fitness.  Some groups of people began to improve their ways of living after having been given our ideas. We also worked with community stakeholders such as the Member of Parliament (MP), Headmen, Community Development Fund (CDF) officers, teachers, Chief, counselor, women’s’ club, and clinic staff.  These were important as they helped us identify the needs of the community.  Some of these needs were taken to Parliament by the MP because they needed the government’s attention. We helped at the clinic with the recordings, weighing of under five children, packing of medicine, and giving lessons to pregnant women.

The program was great and I learned to be confident when presenting issues to a large number of people.  Listening to people’s views helped me cooperate and work hand in hand with various people.  At the moment I am working on my community service project.  I am helping Grade 12 students with mathematics and, when they complete their exams, I will cross over to the Grade 11’s.  Next year, I am hoping to go to college to study Environmental Health.