Friday, March 18, 2016

A Partnership that Spans the Sea

The highlight of our first clinical week here in Mongu wasn't actually a clinical experience. It was our visit to Kaande Basic School, about a half hour drive from Liseli Lodge.

This might seem like an odd excursion because it was out of the way and not directly linked to a clinical experience. But this particular trip was a continuation of our leadership project from last semester, where we taught students in grades 3 and 6 at Aberdeen Hall Preparatory School in Kelowna about global health. We covered topics such as water and sanitation, education, malaria, and world festivals. Our goal was to create global awareness and to challenge students to become acrive members in their communities and the world.

As part of the project we asked the kids at Aberdeen to collect school supplies to send to schools in Zambia and Ghana (the other option for an international nursing practicum through UBCO). This activity was part of helping them to be aware of the lack of basic school supplies in many countries around the world, and the challenges faced in places where school isn't easily accessible.

We chose Kaande Basic School because our nursing instructor, Jessica, connected us with Rachael, who runs an organization near Kaande. Through Rachael, we got into contact with the headmaster at Kaande, who enthusiastically agreed to a partnership with Aberdeen.

Rural area surrounding the school. 

Throughout this project, we wanted to make sure that a partnership would be fostered between the two schools. We wanted to avoid a situation where foreigners simply donate resources and leave. With this in mind, the students at Aberdeen created brochures which briefly described themselves and their lives. Our hope was to create a more personal connection to the students who would be receiving the donations from Canada. It was important to us that the students at Aberdeen realize that they can learn from students in different countries and continents, and that one way of life isn't better than another.

We were a little nervous upon going to Kaande. We didn't know quite what to expect or what our plan would be. Upon meeting the headmaster and several teachers, however, our fears were quickly relieved. We were warmly greeted and welcomed to Kaande. We were able to find out a little more about Kaande - it was established in the 1900s, and there are about 400 students. They do not have electricity or computers, and limited classroom space. Despite this, the teachers are passionate and the students eager to learn. We feared that the school supplies we had would not be enough, but the teachers assured us that they would be very helpful. We decided to give the supplies to the school rather than to individual students to ensure their use at school and for school.

Although plain, the school was beautiful and clean. Anywhere from 60-90 student would learn together in a small classroom, and teaching materials consisted of a chalkboard and hand-drawn posters with some shared textbooks. But it was such a joyful experience for us to meet teachers who clearly loved and were proud of their work, and finally getting to see the school that we had anticipated visiting for so long.

This trip was a wonderful experience, and we are so excited to go back to Kaande and give the school the supplies as well as teach the students about hand hygiene. We'd like to thank the many people who have helped us get here, especially our other two group members, Gurpreet and Noella, without whom we'd never have gotten this far.

Main schoolyard at Kaande

- Cass, Laura, and Julianne

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