RIPPLE Africa Volunteer Blog – No. 81

This blog is the second one written by Tara Strange, a volunteer teacher

I cannot believe how quickly the days are flying by – this is already my seventh week at Mwaya which means I’m over halfway through my time at RIPPLE; I want time to slow down! I’ve decided to split my timetable between two pre-schools and three primary schools, as well as teaching computer lessons for the primary and pre-school teachers, plus running art clubs and assisting with adult literacy classes (plus a bit of tutoring English on the side); it’s been a busy time!

The adult literacy class at Mwaya have been translating some children’s books (such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar) into the local language, Chitonga, and making craft pieces like drawings of characters and puppets. These will be put together in ‘story sacks’ and used at the library on Saturdays for story-telling sessions for the children. This project has been set up by returning volunteer Phoebe, and everyone at Mwaya seems to be really enjoying preparing the stories. Phoebe has also enlisted Caitlin to start up an adult numeracy group at Mwaya on Thursdays, but I’m sure Caitlin will write more about the progress of this class in her next blog. I have been putting together a book entitled ‘Life in Town’, filled with short stories written by the adult literacy group, of their memories of visiting a city.

Previous volunteers had set up art clubs at Mwaya and Mazembe primary schools so I’ve decided to start these up again. So far we have made and decorated origami planes and boats, and made Mother’s Day pop up cards ready for Mother’s Day (this is celebrated on October 15 here). Soon we will be making masks, collages and friendship bracelets. The children are very keen and eager to participate – to the point where we have an audience of students craning to look in through the classroom windows at us!

Last week Geoff and Liz arrived with Geoff’s son Neil and his girlfriend Jenny. We had a special treat arranged to coincide with ‘moon rise’, the time of the month when a full red moon rises across the lake. A local choir of girls came to the beach and serenaded us with a medley of reggae and gospel songs, and even a song about the previous President, Joyce Banda. They danced as well as sang, and some of the songs were so energetic we were amazed that they had the stamina to keep going!

A few weeks ago Caitlin, Linda and I arranged a trip to climb up Mount Kuwirwi – unfortunately we didn’t quite make it to the top, but we still had some absolutely incredible views. We also took a trip to go horse riding in Kande. It had been over five years since I’d last ridden a horse, and even then I’d only been three times, so needless to say my leg muscles were a little bit worse for wear the following week! It was totally worth it though, the experience of riding a horse bareback into Lake Malawi is one I won’t forget easily.

We have an exciting few weeks planned ahead – this weekend we are going to Nkhata Bay for my birthday, and the following weekend we are going to Nyika Plateau and Vwaza Marsh, all of which I’m really looking forward to!

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