Meeting Mrs. Mwanza: Zambia Educator
It’s a topsy-turvy world: Board a South African Airlines jet at JFK on a fine April day when New York kids are toting book-filled bags to school, and after a 17 hour flight to Johannesburg to change planes, I recall a kaleidoscope of overlapping images – tea plantations in Malawi, an old mission there; an overnight at elegant Mkulumadzi Lodge set in a virgin forest, then Zambia, and the news. “Schools are on holiday.”
What about my village school story? A village school visit is on our itinerary. I ask Manda Chisanga, guide to our group of four journalists Lee from California, Steven and Ilona from Canada and me – each with different missions. Manda greeted us at the rustic-chic Mfuwe Lodge. We’re to spend the night here and go on game drives in acclaimed South Luangwa Park.
“We’ve made special plans for your school story,” Manda says.
For a number of years Bushcamp Company which operates Mfuwe Lodge and four bush camps in South Luangwa Park has supported Chiwawatala Basic School in nearby Mambwe Village by providing assistance with the purchasing of supplies and uniforms, and with guests’ help, sends 80 children to school. The Company has helped renovate the school, and improved its electricity.
The next day, in the village, I have my school interview. Taking a break from her holiday, Misozi Mwanza, deputy to Chiwawatala’s head teacher, Charles Zulu, met with me in a tiny cluttered office. The school’s children’s choir practiced next door as we spoke, and my colleagues took photos of them and recorded their songs
“We are a basic school, serving around 600 students in grades 1-9,” Mrs. Mwanza said. “School is free only to grade 7, and many drop out after that. We teach in the English language. Subjects include literary, numerals and math, social and development studies; creative, technology, and community study.”
I looked in nearby at the Carly Finder Library, a program funded by Bushcamp Company and many other prestigious charities. There I found a lone young boy was spending his holiday reading in a spacious silent book-lined room.#