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June 25, 2010

A big school for a little village

By Cynara Vetch

Mombe is a little village on a big trucker route through Zambia. We arrived at collection of thatched huts only to be ushered up the hill to a gleaming new secondary school. It is still in the process of being constructed and everywhere we looked there were Zambian builders with hard hats and Chinese foreman barking out instructions. The Zambian government has been funded by the Chinese to build 8 schools in this Eastern province.

The builders opened wrought iron gates and showed us into a vast school hall where we set up the screening, high on the ceiling I counted 24 electric fans. There’s no electricity in the area but the board hopes that a big secondary school will put Kacholola on the map and persuade the government to stretch the grid to the village. The school will provide employment for 20 teachers and has boarding facilities, which will allow pupils across the province to access secondary education.

Temboka Linda, the headteacher explained why he was supportive of the Chinese involvement in his school “With the previous policy the money was given to the community. Some of it was lost and there were a lot of strings attached with procurement, it took a long time to build the schools. With Chinese assistance these problems have been solved and the whole process is much faster”.

The education HIV activities were run by the District AIDS coordinator in the area. She used our Africa Wins: Every Time You Prevent HIV t-shirts to broadcast the message that it was every individual’ responsibility to help prevent the spread of the virus and eliminate it on the continent. Our audience ranged from granparents sitting on exam style desks at the back to little toddlers cross legged at the front. Sadly the game was not the most thrilling, Portugal and Brazil being too closely matched but every close encounter was met with wild enthusiasm and they were a great crowd.

We spent the night in an abandoned guesthouse, which was slightly reminiscent of ‘The Shining’ but we were very well looked after and treated to a campfire and the best roast goat we’ve ever tasted.

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