Looking at my recent post “Open our schools!” you might think I was dancing with joy when the president last Friday announced that schools can reopen. But I wasn’t. I do think it is the only way forward as children in government schools have missed out on six month of learning, but as for me and my youngest boys we were just getting the hang of it. I was even planning how to set up our new “classroom”. You could say I received the news with mixed emotions. And so did the boys. Six months away from what was routine meant it was like first day at school all over again on Tuesday, it didn’t make it any easier that we weren’t allowed to escort them to hostel or class, just drop off and go to avoid crowding. (I know it was all smiles by the end of the day but it was still hard!) My youngest only goes back next week and will hopefully get the excitement up, at least he made sure to load up on snacks today when we went grocery shopping. Thanks to technology and hard working teachers the children at Martin house have been able to keep up with work. Unfortunately, that can’t be said about many other schools that are now looking at catching up on all the lost time. 2020 is really a year for the history books for all the wrong reasons but I hope we can see a silver lining which for me has been all the time spent with my children (though I can’t lie, it’s been challenging too!) Now the question is how do we expect our kids to adhere to social distancing and wearing masks at school when most adults have failed so badly at it!?
This passed week it was my turn to take over the Discover Zambia Instagram feed. Discover Zambia (Go follow> @discoverzambia) is a page sharing photos of Zambia’s most beautiful and interesting locations as well as of luxury lodges in and around our national parks (and more). During the take-over a variety of photographers, both local and international, get to share their best photos from all over the country. It was a very diverse group this year, both in terms of background and style which resulted in an interesting few weeks (it’s still ongoing). If I was going for the likes I would have shared my photos from our trips to Kafue national park, Samfya beach and the bat migration in Kasanka national park for example. But I decided to go my own way and share a more messy and less pristine side of Zambia, showing the hustle and bustle on the streets of Kabwe. It was fun to have the opportunity to show my photos to a larger audience, I hope people appreciated seeing a less polished but just as authentic side of this amazing country!
Besides “lockdown” and “social distancing” one word we will strongly associate with the year 2020 is: “staycation”. I think many have discovered places that were around the corner all along. One such place for us is Mulungushi boat club, though we’ve known this place long before it was a thing not to travel far. It’s a place we used to visit frequently before life got hectic. We used to spend the days on the water, fishing on the good spots, unfortunately the water levels have been far below normal for the last few years and the fish has been netted heavily. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a relaxing weekend here. I started our first day with a run, as I’m used to flat ground the change of scenery also serves up a good challenge a long the dam. The boys climbed down the dam wall, a workout in itself, to fish. As it was my daughters birthday we made time for cake, and managed to visit a friend (though that was a long drive…!). Day two we all hiked down the dam wall and the fishing was a lot more successful than the previous day. I love the rocky terrain in this area, you can if you’re lucky spot baboons in the rocky hills as well as the rather shy rock dassy.
The road has recently been graded, and it now takes about an hour from the great north road to the club. Many club members have built beautiful chalets that are available to rent, you can also pitch a tent as there are ablution blocks. This year’s Mountain bike challenge was cancelled thanks to good old Corona, but that is otherwise a great event for the adventurous that takes place every August. If you’re on a budget or looking for a simple effortless getaway then put Mulungushi boat club on your list.
In Zambia all schools had to close in March following instructions from the president. It was announced just before the first cases of Covid-19 in the country were reported. We have now completed a full term from home (with only exam classes back at schools from 1 of June). For my children that’s in a well organised private school. The majority of children in Zambia that attend public/ government run schools have had no access to any form of education from home, and have instead been left unsupervised as parents go out to look for work. In the poor areas the children are left looking after young siblings or playing in the streets. I’ve noticed an increase of children begging for money at the traffic lights and children going around selling snacks. The purpose of closing schools was obviously to try and stop the spread of Covid-19 but when parents still have no choice but to jump on packed buses and go into crowded markets to make a living what is the gain by keeping the children out of school? Especially as the children are not sitting at home. Many countries have noted an increase in domestic abuse, this does not exclude children. Teenage pregnancies will most likely go up as well as drug abuse amongst teenagers with nothing better to do. WHO is now urging African countries to safely open schools as the dangers by staying out of schools may outweigh the risks of getting Covid-19. In two weeks time schools are du to start term 3, at this point the silence from our government is loud. Schools need to plan ahead, either for a safe reopening or a continuation of online/home learning (which is a challenge even for the most organised school with some schools seeing a sharp decrease in engagement from pupils) as of now nobody knows which direction we are heading. Covid-19 is going to be around for a long time, we can’t sit and wait for it to magically disappear. We can’t afford to write 2020 off, life needs to go on even under the circumstances of “the new normal”. Open our schools!
Read the article from WHO here: https://www.afro.who.int/news/who-unicef-urge-safe-school-reopening-africa