Our vision is of an Africa where children have access to education, opportunity, and choice.
Read how we have transfomed Koch Lila Primary School
Spring 2013 newsletter
We have recently held a workshop for our contractors and their foreman at our offices in Zambia. It was held over two days and there was a site visit to Lubombo School. The aim was to increase the skills of the contractors and their foreman, and already there has been an increase in the quality of our builds.
It was a great couple of days as it made everyone feel part of the African Revival team. Some of the contractors have worked with us for over six years now - since we started in Zambia!
We're delighted that we've been able to order new reading books from Happy Readers. They produce a series of readers specifically designed to increase the literacy rates in primary schools. The Happy Readers books help young children in Africa to learn to read in a way that enables them to develop fluency in reading English. They are very easy to use and have already increased literacy rates in the schools where they are being used within Zambia.
We are excited that Happy Readers will be holding a workshop, along with the District Education Board shortly, where Connor, from Happy Readers, who is a trained Zimbabwe teacher will go into great depth on how children learn to read which really boosts the teacher's morale.
Mooka School in Zambia currently has 534 pupils aged 3-19 and just 7 teachers. It is a remote school with an extreme shortage of books and materials. There are currently only 49 books on rotation for the teachers to use. As part of this project, we are purchasing over 300 core text books, art supplies amd teacher's aids.
Together we hope to get the children of Zambia reading.
Pupils at Mooka School
Thursday 14 February Paraa Lodge to Gulu
Our last day of cycling began with a drive through Murchison Falls National Park north of the Nile, where most of the game is to be seen. Elephant, giraffe, hartebeest, Ugandan cob and buffalo were all spotted. Once out of the park, we were driven to Anaka, where we first visited the local African Revival office, a hub for the team supporting a number of schools in the area, useful to reduce the travelling time from Gulu where the main office is located. Andrew, who runs the office welcomed us. He and Kennet, who heads the AR operations in Uganda and Zambia, explained that during the fighting the local people had been displaced from their villages into camps. The local schools were abandoned and some schools such as the school at Anaka had been expanded. Its roll was now reduced to "only" 1200 children. It is a primary school notionally taking the children from 6 to 13 but in practice some come earlier and some much later (this wide age range not making the task of teaching effectively any easier). The head teacher welcomed us and invited us to be led into the school in a dancing, drumming procession, our path lined by clapping children and petals were scattered beneath our feet as we walked.We were introduced to the teachers, the school management council, the PTA, the District Education Officer and members of the local council. The parish priest led a prayer and the children danced and sang for us. We saw some of the building projects African Revival had contributed to and the fruits of their other support, such as assisting in the development of teaching aids made from locally available materials. We were shown the school's development plan that demonstrated the scale of the problem but also the determination of the community to improve the education for their children. It was a moving experience and one that reinforced the importance of the work that African Revival is doing and how important they have become to the schools they assist. We are extremely grateful for the generous support of all our sponsors that will make a significant contribution to that effort.The school was generous with the time they devoted to entertaining us and we were behind schedule but eventually we were once more given our bikes and instructions for the ride to Koch Goma. Mandy's knee had recovered enough to allow her to get back on the bike, with a little help from the bungee. Here in Northern Uganda it was evident that the land and the people were,still recovering from the conflict and the difference compared to the south was marked. The people a little less openly welcoming, although happy to react to our waves and greetings, the agriculture less organised and the buildings run down. The road was fairly rough, with sandy stretches and in the heat of the day it was a testing session (morale not helped by the fact that the 20km we were promised turned out to be 30 km and steadily uphill).At Koch Goma, the children had waited patiently for our arrival (now some two hours late). A quick lunch followed by introductions and singing and a chance to see the new classroom block and classroom furniture funded by AR. We also joined a class to see the teaching in action, the children managing to concentrate well enough on their teacher's lesson in the local language, Acholli (or Luo). We were invited to take some water as a token of their hospitality and then back on the bikes. The road to Gulu was rougher and more uphill but our legs had the strength that comes from the knowledge that the end is in reach. On the outskirts of Gulu we gathered again, donned balloons and set off en mass into the town and to the Churchill Hotel. The townspeople snapped us on their phones and eventually we were there, dismounted and content, if a little weary. The slightly crumpled "something smart" clothes were donned (notable how different the girls and the men had interpreted this instruction) and a celebratory dinner enjoyed by all, including the speeches. Charles is a great spokesman for Uganda and Henk for Africa and adventure. Mandy and Glen did their bit for AR (Glen made three speeches today: all excellent, not least for their unexpected brevity). After dinner some hardy souls made to a local nightspot until the early hours (or so we are told).Total distance covered 56.5 km. Total ascent 420m. Maximum temperature 41 C
With thanks to Glen and Wiliam for the update
Wednesday, 13 February Masindi to the Murchison Falls and Paraa Lodge.
The daily routine is well established and we are raring to start our ride at 7.00 am on the dot. Today, we are going to ride into the Muchison National Park, ending the ride at the famous Murchison Falls, where the Nile drops through a narrow rocky cleft no more than 15 metres wide. All the riding is off road, except for the first 50 or so metres from the hotel back to the turning north onto our dirt track.Initially, the road is busy. A variety of vehicles (tractors, trucks and ubiquitous 20 year old four and two wheeled Hondas) pass us, ensuring that we are soon well coated in the reddish brown dust of Africa. But once we have left Masindi behind us, we are speeding along the Ugandan equivalent of a British country lane. Little dwellings, some of them just thatched mud huts, can be spotted through the elephant grass growing on either side of our track. Paths lead off the track up to these homes through small fields given over to livestock and maize, pineapple and banana palms.Down these little paths race young children, clutching satchels and packed lunches, all making their way to school along the track on which we are riding. They soon form into gaggles but are, for the most part, reduced to giggles at the sight we present as we ride past them with cheery waves and greetings. They are generally smartly turned out and we can tell that we have passed through the catchment for different schools as the uniforms change. They seem well, if not universally cheerful, at the prospect of a day at school. Some 20 or so kilometres after setting out, we stop for our first water rest at the gates to the Murchison National Park, conscious of Henk's words in his briefing the evening before: "Riding through a National Park on a bike? Man, it doesn't get any better than that". As we set off, we survive a near collision with a baboon and start to gather speed on a reasonably surfaced track that slopes gently, but continuously, downhill. At this stage we are riding through the Budongo Forest, home to 700 chimpanzees but little (no) prospect of seeing them.However, the joy of a long downhill section is soon dispersed as the undulations return and we sink deeper into the forest. Sharp pinpricks of discomfort are a sign that we are being attacked by tsetse flies. We discover the difficulty of controlling our bikes at speed, on a track growing progressively rougher, whilst feverishly swinging arms and hands at this scourge. The tsetse fly looks a bit like our horse fly, and its bite feels not dissimilar. Unlike horse flies, they hunt in squadrons and their bite is strong enough to strike home through our clothing.At the next water stop, we lose no time getting into the van with our day packs to retrieve our tsetse protection gear (in principle light coloured, loose fitting clothing) to be worn on top of our cycling gear. A daunting proposition now that the sun has risen high into the morning sky with an unresolved dilemma between the discomfort of long trousers and no bites on the legs or shorts and the risk of being bitten on the extremities that hands cannot reach while cycling. A variety of approaches were adopted, the most stylish (and effective) being a pyjama type suit lovingly made for Jeremy by his wife. The next section through the forest is about 22 kilometres, but the fact that Henk has arranged a rolling water stop for us at the end of kilometre 15, and admits that there is a bit of uphill, suggests to all of us that this is going to be tough. Our suspicions are soon confirmed. Every descent is followed by a climb of equal, if not greater, magnitude, and the dense vegetation affords little opportunity to see what is going on in the forest, even if we could afford - which we can't - to take our eyes off the increasingly difficult track surface with which we have to cope. Tsetse fly HQ have got off a message to the neighbouring squadrons down the track to expect the cycle stream coming their way. And the extra clothing we are wearing to protect us from their attacks is making the climbs an even greater hardship in the heat of the day.When we finally struggle into the River Lodge, close to the Nile, where we are having our lunch stop, it is simply impossible to resist diving into its swimming pool, a rare treat, before eating a plentiful buffet lunch. Thunder rolls close by and a gale is whipped up by the convectional air currents, but the storm passes us by and Henk is keen to get us all moving again. We need to cover the remaining 12 km to arrive at the Falls in time to board the boat that has been arranged to take us down the Nile to the Paraa Lodge Hotel on the north bank, where we are to stay this evening.We are momentarily halted in our progress over this last section of the ride by a herd of buffalo, which are notoriously dangerous if roused. Our attendant ranger is therefore pressed into service, and he skilfully sees off the threat by revving his motor cycle in front of the beasts. We carry on along the track, by now accustomed to a surface which feels as though we are continually riding over speed bumps.We all arrive safely at the Falls, despite the state of the track over this section. It is worth all the effort and suffering of the day to see such a magnificent sight. After a challenging hike down from the top of the Falls, we find our vessel, the African Queen, fortunately still waiting though we are an hour late. The subsequent trip down the Nile is equally stunning for the variety of bird and animal life that we see - fish eagles and kingfishers (grey-headed and pied) and African darters amongst the birds, and many hippos, crocodiles and one big elephant just below the hotel.It had been a challenging, but exciting day. Our energy levels are soon revived by a swim in the hotel pool, followed by a refreshing drink or two and a sustaining supper. From the hotel, there is a memorable view over the forest through which we have cycled on the south bank of the Nile. The best way to view the forest, if the more proximate examination of it that we have undertaken today is any guide.Day 5: total distance: 75 kilometres. Total ascent 700 metres. Maximum temperature: 40 C.
With thanks to William and Glen for the update
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