Zambia 2017 – Housemistress’ Snapshot

By Debbie Whitehead, Newby Housemistress

The things which made our memorable trip to Zambia such a success were Sarah B’s fantastic organisational skills, her in-depth knowledge of Livingston and beyond and her wonderful contacts, all of which resulted in the most amazing African adventure for us all.

We took 10 girls, from LVI, UV and LV; they were fantastically supportive of each other (and us) and all worked together well as a team throughout.  The journey itself was a great experience for the girls, with them picking up plenty of good travelling tips and practice.  On the occasions when they were nudged outside their comfort zones they managed extremely well.

We spent several days at Lubasi Home, which enabled the girls to make enduring friendships with the children. The activities they enjoyed many and varied, from football and swing ball, to loom bands, knitting, colouring, reading, making, creating, singing, dancing…the list goes on. Our girls gained in confidence with each visit, and there were tears all round when it came time for us to leave.

We gave careful consideration to the best way to make use of the funds we took with us, and the girls on the trip were fully a part of the deliberations. Money donated from Rebecca’s parents was spent commissioning a local artist to repaint the Lubasi gates which now look wonderful. Many of the funds went on upgrading the kitchen, dining and laundry facilities at the home, including dining furniture to enable the children to eat as a family rather than at school desks in lines! Money also went to the Grace Centre, Tukongote Pre-School and the Sanitary Project.

The St Mary’s girls had many different experiences in Africa, these ranged from a dusty cycling tour of the poor townships of Livingston and riding on elephants to high tea at the Royal Livingstone Hotel.  We visited Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and returned to the same falls at night in Zambia to see the Lunar Rainbow where we were joined by some of the Lubasi children.  We spent time at an upmarket eco lodge but also roughed it on a 3-day camping safari in Botswana.  And the experience of going to school with the Lubasi children (permission for this is rare in Zambia) was as unique as the pre-school visit where the kids enthusiastically shouted their welcome song! I could go on…

On safari, the girls developed the resilience necessary for the camping adventure; a tall order considering that 6 of them were ill with a vomiting bug at the time! I was certainly outside my comfort zone sitting outside a girl’s tent at 2 am with the lions’ roaring getting ever closer! Fr Andrew, Caro and Cressie led a truly spiritual liturgy of the word with those lions roaring. Wonder and awe are what we took away from Safari, it was amazing.

The girls were uncomplaining, kind, helpful, organised, supportive, resilient, stoic, giving, enquiring, funny…and developed great haggling skills. It was a real pleasure to take them, and my thanks also go to my adult companions, Sarah and Richard, Fr Andrew and Rebecca.