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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),


By perfectday, Sep 9 2016 08:28AM

We have been so busy over the past few days that I have not had the time to write, I do apologise.

Over the past few days, we have visited many different placements, which have been fun, very rewarding, very tiring, and at times challenging.

Each morning we go to Palm Grove school, and we have a group of about 35 children, when they all turn up, which we have subdivided into 3 smaller groups. We start the morning by working outside when it is cooler to do some movement exercises to warm them up and energise them. Often in the morning after 2 hours of lessons the children are tired and can't be bothered so it takes a lot of effort to get them all moving and excited. We then play a concentration game to focus them. We decide what group games we are doing before the workshop with one or two of us leading each one. We are keen to tell them why they are playing silly games, i.e. what purpose they have.

Then we take our individual groups to the indoor classrooms. These groups have remained the same since day one so we can build a better relationship with them. For this week we have been focusing on drama theory, exercises, and technique in body, movement, and voice. Whereas on Monday we will start to use these skills to create a mini performance. The challenges we face are mostly due to poor attendance, as often the children won't turn up. We will work closely with Sam the drama teacher (who incidentally could not understand why none of us were married) to improve attendance. However despite these problems we have loved working with them as the kids are so enthusiastic and friendly.

We have visited Lubasi orphanage twice now with mixed successes. Whilst we have loved talking to the children and think the Orphanage is well run and organised, there has been some confusion as to why our group are there. For example because we can only have 45 minutes - 1 hour with the children we were advised to just play with the kids, talk to them, and make their day with some singing and story books. We brought children's books, colouring books, chess, Frisbees, and bouncy balls with us but when we got there the Mother told us we were to either teach them to read, talk to the older children about Orwell's Animal Farm or devise a piece of drama. We felt that not only were we not prepared or qualified to teach but that also that's not why we were there, and also that the children quickly became disengaged once we started to 'teach' them. They were more than happy to talk to us, and thrilled to play with the games we brought, but became shy and bored when the Mother asked us to read something educational. I think we need to communicate with the Mothers more clearly to explain to them why we are there.

We also visited Marimba Old People's Home which was a thoroughly rewarding experience. We sang for them and gave them each an orange and some biscuits and they were very friendly and grateful. I think we were under the impression that the Lubasi Orphanage would be more like the Old Age Home where we entertained them with singing and games rather than being strictly educational.

Yesterday we went to the SEPO youth group following a meeting with them earlier in the week. However after meeting the group on Tuesday it became clear that they were looking for something that we couldn't provide. They wanted to know more about the music industry and wanted us to meet and advise up and coming musicians - we are not qualified to do this. They suggested that we participate in their communities project such as the condom distribution programme or the night Street watch programme which we were all very keen to do but could not do for health and safety reasons and bad timetabling. Staffy, from Sport in Action, will continue to work them. Perhaps in years to come we could too. We realised this programme would not work now so we shortened the programme so they taught us traditional dances for an hour yesterday whilst we will teach them something on Monday.

Yesterday evening we went to an evangelical church to perform with the praise team - or choir- in their three and a half hour service. We were very taken aback by the service which consisted of a lot of frenzied shouting and screaming and chanting. We loved singing with the choir which made beautiful music and they were very friendly, but the service was quite intimidating and so far removed from what we are used to. We have been invited back and have to decide whether we go back again.

Finally we met Docas, Aggrey's wife, who took us to the fabric market and measured us for clothes. We are very excited and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.


Many thanks,


By perfectday, Sep 9 2016 08:27AM

Today Aggrey picked us up at about 7.45 and we headed to the Zambezi Sun Hotel where we met Etta and a photographer from the hotel (whose name we've awkwardly forgotten). He was photographing our trip to Palm Grove. After introductions, Aggrey drove the group to the school. On the way we spoke to the photographer more thoroughly and we discovered that before he worked at the hotel he was a graphic designer for a film production company. Chantelle jokingly asked if we could star in a movie, however after some discussion the photographer said he would be able to organise a trip to the studio when we visit Lusaka in 2 weeks time. He suggested that we could even go on air to talk about our programme. He will email Chantelle with the contact details and also the photographs that he took this morning.

We arrived at Palm Grove School and we were all greeted by the headmistress and the language teacher who expressed the wish to work with us on the programme. They then took us into a class room to meet the pupils at the school. There was probably only 15-20 pupils at the school today due to elections. They were very shy but nevertheless we introduced ourselves and asked each pupil to tell us their names and whether they enjoyed drama. The girls were particularly quiet and I immediately noticed that a lot of work might be needed to get them to open up and come out of their shells and be more relaxed and confident. We were determined to get more information out of them so we asked them what they enjoyed: singing, dancing, music, physical theatre etc.

They are more interested in naturalistic drama, which is not what the Durham Drama group had actually prepared for however it is what we as individuals do in Durham Student Theatre. We aim to slightly change our programme to appeal more to what the students want to do. We then went outside and played some fun games with them. The games were very simple and we were able to engage the pupils and hopefully excite them so that they'll be keen to come back tomorrow and bring their friends. We played I Get Loose and taught them the Penguin Song which are two silly exercises that energise and encourage movement and vocal warm techniques. They seemed to really enjoy it though they were a bit apprehensive at first.

The pupils were then dismissed and we went to meet Brian the drama teacher and he told us how the pupils were keen to do more serious drama following their win at a drama competition. With this in mind we left and Aggrey took us to Lubasi Children's Orphanage. We really enjoyed our visit. Everyone was friendly and the buildings and resources were clean and tidy. It was really encouraging to see their garden of fruits and vegetables and after the tour the group talked at length about the possibility of sponsoring a child or donating a small sum of money to the Orphanage. We realised that if each us donated £1- £2 a month we could make a small difference considering that for one child it costs $10 or k100 a month in primary school tuition fees. They don't get government grants so donations are important however we shall discuss this further.

After we left Aggrey dropped us off at Shoprite where we got food. As we were walking back to the Livingstone Backpackers the election results were being announced. By the time we got back the winner had been announced- Lungu won. There is a lot of noise and horns outside and Staffy rang Chantelle to advise us to stay inside for the rest of the day. We shall see what is happening tomorrow.

Best wishes,