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By perfectday, Jul 18 2017 10:51AM

The next adventure is now only one month away and I am so excited to be returning to Zambia to tackle 50 hours of sport over 5 days, with the hope of raising £50k. The money raised will go towards a number of projects: facility construction, food programmes and educational sponsorships.

It has been 11 years since I first touched down in Zambia. ELEVEN years. Trying to avoid a cliché here, but time really does fly! In 2006 I was a naive 20 year old, with boundless energy and an unrelenting passion for sport. What I didn't know at the time was the power that sport can have in shaping the future of young people - both English students and the local Zambians. I think the most powerful lesson I learnt on that first trip, was the reciprocity of sports coaching.

I landed in Zambia to blazing sunshine and a sea of vibrant colours. The women were dressed in traditional dresses called ‘chitenge’, children on their hips and shopping on their heads, their faces a-wash with smiles. The children were in abundance; galloping around the streets, playing with any items they could find that vaguely resembled a toy!

I will return next month as a 31year old, still with boundless energy, just with a slightly longer recovery time!! One magical factor that is accentuating my excitement, is that this time I go back with the luxury of having seen firsthand the power that sport has to change lives. When I first returned from Zambia eleven years ago, together with some great friends, we set up The Perfect Day Foundation with the ambition to provide sustainable funding to young Zambians in order to help them to make informed life choices, in some instances, to simply give them the luxury of choice – in practicality, this is school sponsorship, food programmes and facility creation. We endeavor to provide the tools and resources that will enable these amazing young people to achieve their dreams. Since we founded The Foundation we have seen over 60 children through school, built several facilities including multipurpose sports pitches and toilet and shower blocks, as well as creating a sustainable food programme for a local street kid drop in centre. We are desperate to continue our work and grow the programme to benefit the lives of more young people – both in Zambia and those travelling from the UK.

Next month, I will be part of a team of 14, including the sensational British swimming coach Mel Marshall and one of her incredible athletes, Adam Peaty, and together we will take on this massive challenge. We will have 10 hours of basketball, 10 hours on netball, 10 hours of volleyball, 10 hours of football and to finish we will have a 10-hour triathlon….all over the course of 5 days. We are fortunate enough to also be joined by a number of the CEOs that represent these sports in the UK, which will further enhance the learning and education on the ground in Zambia.

Over the coming weeks we will be publishing interviews with a number of the awesome team, so you can learn more about them, their motivations and their sporting prowess. As I say, we are hoping to raise £50k, so if you would like to donate, please give what you can here.

Live footage will be streamed throughout the week to show you just how hard we are working for the funds : )

Thanks for listening, Mollie (Founding partner) x

By perfectday, Jun 28 2017 08:31PM

Week 1 of the project!! The first weekend was free for the students to arrive, settle in, sort out their Zambian phones and visit the Lilayi Elephant Sanctuary.

The start of the week saw us going to Sport in Action to watch the Zambian under 20s play, it’s amazing how much they value even their U20s team, compared to in England where nobody really bothers. After lunch we had the in country induction, which gave the students the opportunity to learn about their placements and meet their peer leaders, who they’ll be working closely with for the next 6 weeks and also learn about the differences between the British and the Zambian culture.

Truck tour – one of the best days of my experience in Zambia!! Going round all the placement sites on the back of a flat-bed truck. The smiles and excitement of the kids was overwhelming and infectious! Everyone thoroughly enjoyed being able to see all the placements and the kids reaction just goes to show the level of appreciation they have for us being here.

The first day of placement I attended Chipata. It was a great first day! Getting stuck in to PE sessions straight away with the SEN class and grade 4, both a challenge in different ways, but was great to start to build the confidence of the students in leading the songs and movement games. The afternoon saw the students lead basketball and football sessions. The language barrier was the one main challenge, but the students soon came up with alternative communication methods or made use of the peer leaders to translate.

The group have very quickly settled in to their placements with just one or two minor issues, but all were quickly sorted! I cannot wait to see what the next 5 weeks will hold!

By perfectday, Sep 25 2016 07:33PM

Last year I was lucky enough to be introduced to the Zambia IDEALS project by a friend. This has meant that for the last two years I have been fortunate enough to spend 6 weeks in June and July working and volunteering in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. It is hard to put into words what I have gained from this experience. Having been back now for well over a month I still often miss the country and people which I have been so blessed to have visited.

A normal day on placement in Lusaka is characterised by its distinct lack of normality by our expectations. Just travelling to placement is an experience in itself. Buses in Zambia are very much a love it or hate it experience. You are crammed into a tiny, often broken down bus, with four or five people on a row of seats designed for three. You then get to barter with the conductor in order to secure the best price. It is a process which should be embraced. Travelling on the us is also very different because of the interactions you have with the people on them. Zambians are in the main incredibly outgoing and friendly people and they will always attempt to engage you in conversation.

The thing that makes the whole experience so special is the people. The volunteers and staff at Sport in Action are so hardworking, friendly and inspiring. It is almost impossible not to become incredibly close with the peer leaders at the placement sites you work at and visit who are all friendly and welcoming. But above all else it is the children you teach and coach who have the most profound impact. Despite often having very little they turn up to PE or sport sessions everyday with a sense of happiness and excitement which is hard to describe. Whilst lessons can often be chaotic given the number of children, often topping a hundred, taking part they are also immensely rewarding given the enjoyment on the faces of those taking part.

Perhaps the most important thing I have learnt as a result of the project is to rethink sport development and third world development projects on the whole. So often they get painted as ‘Us’ going over ‘there’ to help ‘them’. In actual fact I have learnt so much more from the people I have met in Zambia than I could ever teach them. For me development projects such as this a are two way process whereby the people who travel to Zambia in the project get as much out of the programme as the local children and coaches. I would strongly encourage anyone who has the chance to take part in the project, you will get more out of it than you could imagine!

By perfectday, Sep 25 2016 07:26PM

As I reflect on my 3 weeks in Lusaka, Zambia, it is with only fondness that I look back. We were received so warmly by our Zambian hosts at Sport in Action, and were made to feel very much valued and part of the SIA family. Special thanks go out to Stacy from Durham University whose in-country organisation, links, and local knowledge proved invaluable in helping us settle into our new surroundings, prepare ourselves for what was to come, and to ensure that the programme ran as smoothly as possible. Thanks are also due to the team of students I had the privilege of working with in Group 3 who are to be commended for their conduct – the way they embraced the Zambian culture, got stuck in at their respective placements, and seized the opportunities that came their way.

It may sound clichéd but it was an honour for me to work alongside some very dedicated, talented, and inspirational individuals at SIA (and EduSport) during my time in Zambia – right through from the management to the peer leaders. I was impacted by the commitment of the peer leaders, by the pride they took in their roles, and the knowledge they possessed. Participants clearly enjoyed taking part in the sporting activities while equally taking their training seriously. Players had a strong competitive edge and produced a standard of play that defied their humble surroundings. It was a pleasure seeing the different age ranges mix in together happily, and a highlight for me (which demonstrates one of the strengths of the programme) was how some of the young people were thriving in the additional responsibility being given to them through officiating, coaching, and looking after equipment. The development of peer leaders plays such an important role in the success of the programme, so seeing the potential “peer leaders of the future” starting to emerge was great to see.

I have gained a better understanding of the relationship between the various branches that make up the sporting infrastructure of Zambia and how the IDEALS project has been impacting on them – the way sporting facilities are being developed alongside investment in the human resource of peer leaders and site coordinators; the way that this links to developmental goals through the provision of educational opportunities, supply of food, female empowerment, and the focus on instilling values through sport; and the way these are all tied together through a strong strategic and operational approach spearheaded by NGO’s Sport In Action and EduSport.

Finally, I will take away fond memories of the people I have met along the way – the peer leaders and site coordinators, the house security guard and cleaner, all at SIA / EduSport, the students and staff, the children, and the Zambian people whose infectious friendliness and warmth have helped make the experience so enjoyable.

By perfectday, Sep 9 2016 08:29AM

On the 31st of August we arrived in Lusaka after a really intense but rewarding time in Livingstone. During our time in Livingstone we continued our relationships with Palm Grove School, the Reformed Church, Lubasi Orphanage, Marramba Old People's home and continued being involved in discussions about cultural differences and similarity, tradition and modernity, race and human rights with the film activist Musola (who last year co-ordinated the Livingstone arts festival).

We also fostered new relationships with a youth centre, SEPO, and the Divine Fire Cathedral Church. At the end of our time in Livingstone we went on a rural placement to Nampongo village for 2 nights which was different to anything we knew, and such an eye opener to the traditional life Zambians live which we hadn't experienced in the cities.

As a group we found some of these placements challenging, but all were enlightening and incredibly rewarding. We made lifelong friendships with Sport in Action Co-ordinator Staffison Pirri, and Aggrey Chompa, as well as with the people we worked with in our placements. I personally found the work with the youth group, SEPO, to be particularly rewarding as we learnt so much about what young people like us think about their country, culture, and the way we can work together to increase development in Zambia socio-economically by using the medium of drama to foster confidence, life skills and opportunities and keep young people off the streets. This encourages personal development, education and empowerment, which then can be seen on a national scale.

We also really enjoyed our time at Palm Grove School where we put on a Shakespeare showcase with the children we had been working with. We incorporated traditional songs and dances the children had taught us to foster cultural exchange and share cultures.

In Lusaka we hope to continue the sort of work we did in Livingstone - today Rhiannon, Annie and myself went to Lubala School where we will be working for the next 2 weeks teaching drama and music. We will start working with the children tomorrow to work up to a final showcase at the end of next week. This showcase will also include the work Claire, Stine and Elizabeth have been doing at the Fountain of Hope.

We also hope to join Barefeet Theatre at their yearly camp where peer leaders will be teaching 'Uncle John' workshops. These focus on the story of a boy who travels from a rural village to Lusaka. Through the medium of drama issues that affect young people in Zambia are faced, such as HIV and Aids, anxiety, sexual and personal health, gender based violence and female empowerment. As these are the sorts of issues we are all very interested in we would love to work with them in any way possible, and are looking forward to learning as much as we can, as well as using our own skills to help them. We can't wait to continue- the time has just flown by so far. We can't believe we only have 2 weeks left!!

Tizaonana manje manje (see you soon),