Day 4: Visiting Schools with the Team

This morning, I woke to chicken clucking and roosters crowing. I wouldn’t feel at home here if it weren’t for those noisy birds. I think it beats an alarm clock, but I may be in the minority about this. It was sunny and breezy most of the day though we did get a downpour mid-morning, that dried up before we could wonder how to stay dry having forgotten raincoats.

 We met Olipa at the sewing guild, gathered our MoonCatcher kit packed suitcases and waited for our crew to arrive. Later than planned, but with plenty of time we loaded everything and everyone into a van outfitted with narrow wooden benches along each side. It makes for a bumpy ride, but you can fit lots of people and supplies this way.

 Our first school had about 120 girls crammed into a classroom two sizes too small, but everyone was in good spirits and happy to be there. Olipa and I had our first experience teaching together. I spoke, she translated. Ends up she knows a lot about the subject, so she added lots of useful information and held the girls in the palm of her hand. They loved her and felt free to ask questions and add to the conversation. Charlotte was our model. She really hammed it up and got the girls screaming with delight. They loved that part. We had our tailors hand out the kits to the girls.  Because they had made them, it seemed just right!

Ellie and Olipa teaching our menstrual and reproductive health curriculum

Ellie and Olipa teaching our menstrual and reproductive health curriculum

As Ellie and Olipa show the students the contents of a kit, Charlotte gets ready to be the perfect model!

As Ellie and Olipa show the students the contents of a kit, Charlotte gets ready to be the perfect model!

The next school was a ten-minute drive down the road and had even more students. We were able to expand on our class a little because we had more time. Olipa was fabulous, Charlotte delighted the girls and the tailors gave out another 150 MoonCatcher menstrual kits. Some girls stayed behind to ask private questions and eventually everyone met outside to have pictures taken

Our MoonCatcher tailors with Olipa and Charlotte

Our MoonCatcher tailors with Olipa and Charlotte

This is why I love coming here.

This is why I love coming here.

The deputy head teacher asked to show me around the school. He mostly wanted me to see where the girls live. The dormitory was dirty, crowded, messy and in need of mattresses and mosquito nets. The doors have large gaps and the windows are missing most of their panes. The bathroom was worse. There is no door, no place to set anything down and no privacy of any kind. Menstrual supplies are dropped into the hole used to urinate and when that fills up there is no money to clean it out.  It’s smelly, dark and unfriendly.  The kitchen was smoky and had chickens roosting on and under the counters. 

Yet I could tell this guy really wants the best for these girls and was trying his hardest to do right by them. He asked for mattresses and I said I’d see what I could do.

Once we dropped everyone off, three of us went into Kasungu to shop twin bed size foam. We found it but have to figure out a way to transport it to the school so haven’t purchased it yet. We’ll work on that tomorrow after teaching at another two schools.

I’m so tired. Time to sleep.