Airport chaos forces ACS Egham students to chart new course in Zambia
Following a busy year of fundraising for their planned visit to Nepal – contributing to the building work of a new elementary school in Pachkal – unexpected flight cancellations set ACS students and staff on a new path to the Itala Foundation School, a Welsh NGO in Zambia.
Although a deviation from their initial project in Nepal, students readied themselves for the opportunity to engage with and support two diverse community groups who would benefit from their donations of materials, time and labour. Project Nepal funds raised from the students’ fifth year of the programme were still delivered to their intended recipients to pay for the new school building, but the revised expedition allowed ACS Egham to also build a new connection with a school community in Zambia, where over 1,000 local orphans are educated.
Achieving all their initial goals – to serve the global community, develop commitment to social justice, and engaging the wider ACS Egham school body with awareness of their projects – students experienced a memorable journey of discovery through both work and leisure. The team supported local builders, manually completing the construction of five brick accommodation chalets for vulnerable people, enduring high temperatures and with little shade as they worked. And as the local community experiences on a regular basis, the students were required to pump, transfer, boil and filter all the water that was needed, from drinking and showering, to mixing cement.
"Our students came away from their labours with a deeper understanding of the challenges that poorer communities face not only with the funding for developments such as the Itala Foundation School, but also the practical limitations due to underdeveloped local infrastructure, commented Bill Roach, Upper School Physical Health teacher and Project Nepal assistant director.
Our community service work exceeded all of our expectations. I am extremely proud of all of our students, who worked diligently and positively throughout all of their activities.
The Zambia expedition also promoted interaction and engagement between ACS students and local children through conversation and play, in lessons, sport, gaming and music. Students gained further insight into local life with shopping excursions to the local market, cookery lessons on staple Zambian food, practical tasks including painting and cleaning, a visit to a local children’s hospital, and an ACS Egham student presentation on the local radio station.
In addition to the practical service ACS Egham delivered via labour and teaching, the school was also proud to donate 360kg of clothing and learning materials from the ACS community back in the UK, alongside investing in tools and wheelbarrows to expedite the build timeline and for local community artisans to use in future. “We had a phenomenal time at Itala Foundation School”, said student participant, Mercedes Pascual.
We are happy, healthy and reminiscing about our life-changing experience and the contribution we made to the sustainable future of Itala Foundation School. We are all looking forward to sharing our tales with the rest of the student body. We proudly changed lives and had our lives changed in return.