Just under 9 miles outside of bustling town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, lies a dusty, rural village that could not be more different from its city neighbor. With residents subsisting by cattle raising and limited farming, the small village of Ntabayengwe is dotted with thatch-roofed huts with little food inside. Before 2013, children would roam the village all day, in fear of the predatory animals that surround the town. Eighty percent of the villagers were unemployed and none of the children were in school.
Today, gathered under a tree with backpacks in tow ,100 schoolchildren start to sing.
As the participants of African Safari: A Close-up on Wildlife approach the Lesedi School, they are greeted by a cheery headmaster surrounded by dancing children in bright colored uniforms. With gap-toothed smiles, the students eagerly show the adults their school buildings and vocabulary posters on their classroom walls.
“They were so proud of the facilities and the girls who showed me around were bursting to speak English,” says Lucy McClelland, Road Scholar Class of 2002.“…Their excitement and pride in what they’ve learned was obvious and their enthusiasm blew me away.”
While walking through the buildings, the headmaster points out what looks like a cinderblock shed. He stops and looks down before raising his dark eyes back at the participants. Solemnly, he describes how this little building was the first classroom at Lesedi—a preschool—and that donations from Road Scholar have paid for its roof.
Road Scholar has partnered with the Lesedi School since our instructor Benson Siyawareva founded the facility in 2013. Since its conception, the school has blossomed from a one-room building into six classrooms, an ablution block, a playground, a teachers’ cottage and a kitchen. With limited food in the village, the school provides a breakfast and lunch to every student – often being the only substantial food they have all day. Before departing on this learning adventure, participants are given a list of supplies that they could bring if they wanted to contribute to Lesedi. With open arms, the headmaster accepts the generous gifts of notebooks, pencils and other supplies and explains how this school would have never existed without the generous contributions and support of the Road Scholars who come to the school.
As the children sit at their desks, confidence explodes from the tips of their pencils. “Educating the children to ensure they have choices in life was inspiring and something that I take for granted in the U.S.” explains Ms. McClelland. “I talked to two girls about what they wanted to do: one wanted to teach and another wanted to be a scientist.” With the gifts from the Road Scholar donors and the unparalleled dedication of the community, the dreams of the children are no longer just that – a dream – but finally something within their reach.
A find memory from my vist. Loved hearing them sing "Who sold the "co-o-o-kie from the co-o-o-kie jar?".
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