By Naomi Crisp
After tucking my bug net into the mattress I was out for the night until the sound of the rooster woke me. It was still dark outside so I went back to sleep. At 6am I heard people in the main room so I joined them. To my relief there was already tea on the table, one cup later and I was social. The women had made some delicious doughnuts along with fruit for breakfast. A while later Themba gave us a short language lesson (Chichawe) and a detailed tour of the village. Everyone in Makupo is family and it seems like a wonderful system of ownership alongside community collaboration (a value to consider in curriculum development). After the tour we had time to ourselves in which I went and took some pictures because I know Mum would want to see everything from a mango tree to the toilet.
We had some lunch and the Themba took us on a tour of the surrounding villages. I found this interesting as the villages are all so different yet the same. Some were bigger, spread out, smaller houses, more banana trees or fewer people, each village was their own. We learned a lot along the way about lifestyle and culture, which made it very clear how important these few days of discovery are in order to create a school that is appropriate for the area.
We did a loop which took us to the schools which gave us a great idea of what they look like here. The system felt very British in nature but the class sizes were about 70 per grade (called standards here). At the primary school there are about 31 teachers and 2000 students, a lot bigger class sizes than we are used to. Students don’t start school until the age of six as play is an important role in a child’s growing up process. Close to the secondary and primary school was the Chilanga School for the Blind where we found the children singing, an absolute pleasure to watch.
The tour was incredibly informative from how bananas grow to the procedure of burial services. Longjezo was great at answering every question I came up with in that nature. When we got back from the walk I went straight outside to meet Gift. He taught me all kinds of general knowledge information, such as, the wind stops in the hot season, they play netball and soccer, mangos grow in the wet season, popcorn is popular, soy is used a lot, there are 3 months off of school but spread out throughout the year, as the students age their subjects go from general to specific, and the rain feels neutral but the wind is HOT.
After a few hours and the sun was fading, I went to have a shower, and by shower I mean a bucket. I thought it would be a negative experience but I was so happy just to be clean! Just before dinner I suddenly felt really sick and had to run outside to throw up. I was worried that this was the start of a long train of foreign sicknesses but in all honesty it was just the adjustment to the heat, I was fine from then on. We sat on the couches for the remainder of the evening discussing topics that naturally lead to education being a room full of teachers. I found today that the heat and new environment must be respected and my body needs its rest.