Part of our “Camp Hormone goes on Safari” trip involved a visit to a local school situated close to the park. Some preparation was involved in this visit including making an assembly, planning activities to do with the kids and a collection of items to take with us that we could leave behind for the needy. It is a very complicated experience to take 40 wealthy, privileged teens into an environment of 1000 rural, poor as can be children. Despite having many the same age as our group it was startlingly obvious that this was a meeting of two totally different worlds. Did the visit benefit the local school? I would say, in all honestly, not all all. Did the visit benefit our kids? Yes it did, in that it put a mirror up before them and showed them the contrast between their lives and those less fortunate. What is complicated is the deeper question of whether or not this actually changes or affects them.
These children live barefoot, they have tea and only tea for breakfast. They all have over worn and torn clothes and once school is over will collect water, wood and charcoal and help the family with tough and messy chores. They learn at school by rote and are taught with very little imagination or inspiration, those being luxuries they cannot afford. There is little hope of any of them going onto high education, the objective is to educate them to read, write, count and know their history and geography. There are older students with sticks ( prefects, I assume) who hit the younger ones to keep them in tow. Corporal punishment is widely used. They have few interesting supplies at school, only using their mathematical sets, pens and notebooks. When some of our craft supplies, including enticing coloured pens toppled to the ground there was a mini stampede to grab the goods, knocking over a few of our students in the process. The rules are different here: this is a different world.
Here are some photos of the kids that we met that day.