This morning I had the privilege of taking two Assemblies about Zambia,at Sandy Lane Primary School, Bracknell, where I work part time.Over the last year, the children, parents, staff and whole school community have been building links with Kankoso Basic School in Serenje, Zambia. We've written letters and sent photos, pictures and writing about our school. We've sent them some disposable cameras so we can see what their school life looks like too. One of the extraordinary things that our school did was to raise £800 for Kankoso school. I'm so proud of the school community here, for rising to the challenge so creatively and quickly.
On my recent trip I had the opportunity to see how the money's been spent in developing the school garden. The garden is being developed so that the pupils can be given a meal at school, before their long walk back home to the villages. The school has purchased lots of gardening tools, seeds and fertilizers. They've made good progress with this - they have already grown some peanuts and sweet potato and they are expecting to harvest 70 (50kg) bags of maize. We saw cabbage, onion and tomato seedlings growing in the nursery which, by now,will be planted out into the garden. The harvested crops will be fed to the children; and also sold to the local High School so that the Basic school can purchase some school supplies. The exciting thing is that the garden will be sustainable; as they then sow the seed they've harvested. It's another example of strengthening the Serenje community.
As well as telling the children a few Bemba words (although probably in a terrible accent!) I told them about our next opportunity to get involved - the coats and shoes that we'll be collecting and sending out later this month. Serenje is surprisingly cold in the winter (now) and so the children don't go to school, as it's so hard to walk the long, rural walk to school. I'm looking forward to some turning out and rummaging in cupboards to find shoes and coats my children have outgrown. It's great to provide such a "peachy" opportunity for the whole of the Bracknell community to be involved in connecting with Serenje. Last year's coat will have such an impact in Serenje - enabling a child to continue their education, which is so fundamental to their future prospects being positive.
By the way, DO you know where peanuts come from? I guess the clue's in the name (they're called Groundnuts in Zambia) and a few children knew in the assembly today, but before this last visit, I certainly didn't!Well, they don't grow on trees, despite being also known as monkey nuts - no, they grow under ground, hanging off the roots of low, dark green plants.