2010 - Scouts’ and Guides’ Zambia Project

After a nerve-wracking selection weekend, 29 Scouts and Guides, including five RGS boys and a former teacher (Matt East, Guy Pearson, Ian Ratledge, Eric Foster, Duncan Hampshire and Mr Bustin), decided to accept the challenge of building a school in rural Zambia. In order to achieve our goal, we embarked on a number of training weekends, designed to help with team building, and some skill we would need while we where out there, such as First Aid. 

After many months of build-up, the team left the UK on the 22 July, everyone buzzing with anticipation. We arrived in Zambia and spent a few days getting used to our surroundings before we travelled to the school, named ‘katalumba’, meaning ‘We are thankful’. We arrived with a fantastic welcome from the locals, with traditional singing and dancing. The whole village came out to greet us, including many of the Zambian Scout Leaders. Then followed an official ceremony in which we met the committee that had been set up to run the school. It was a great moment to see the people that we have forged links with through the School’s construction. Many hours of celebration followed, lasting from 11.30 am to 9 pm - with a short break in the middle to allow us to put our tents up. The ground was rock hard, but we managed to get the pegs in with the help of some hammers (and many bent pegs). We fell into bed soon after dinner, which had been delayed from 4 pm to 9 pm, shattered after a marvellous day! 

Work started the day after arriving, and thankfully, five of the Zambian scouts had joined us at the project site and wanted to be very involved with site work. Most of the brickwork for the school had been completed by African bricklayers before our arrival ( but all paid for with the money we raised). Nevertheless, it still was a huge challenge to get the school finished in time. All the team worked amazingly hard during the time we were there, getting involved in digging out a trench to level off the ground ready for the playground, plastering walls, laying some paths, painting and fetching lots of water. We became very good at laying floor and paths out of slate while we were there, and despite the huge effort it needs to lay, set and then scrape off the excess cement, we all agreed that the results were well worth the effort – it looks really good. Over the next few weeks we busied ourselves with all these jobs as well as laying the cement slab for the teachers accommodation block, painting murals in the classrooms and making the playground. 

By the time we finally left the school site, we felt like we had really achieved something. The school building was almost complete and was looking amazing, as was the playground and all the paths. The committee members were ecstatic about the benefits that the school and its community facilities would bring to the village. We even arranged a lesson in one of the classrooms, which was taken one of the Zambian Scouts. It was also great to see a crowded schoolroom full of young Zambians all revelling in the opportunity for an education here. 

We left the school site in the knowledge that this village would flourish with their new education centre, and very sad to say goodbye to all the friends we had made. We then travelled on to Livingstone, and spent a few days visiting the Victoria Falls and doing some activities such as white-water rafting. We returned to the UK, most of us just pleased to see the basic amenities such as showers and a comfortable bed. The whole team agreed the trip was life changing, and we all could take home memories of the great times we shared.

 Thanks to all our supporters, including the RGSPA, for their part in making this trips such a success.

 Duncan Hampshire