I was recently invited on a trip to Jabulani Village, situated a mere 12 miles outside of Victoria Falls to tag along with a group of guests and see what good Children in the Wilderness are doing for the village and school.

Upon arrival and whilst we waited for the guests to arrive from the nearby airport, I saw a small posse of children, all well dressed in uniform, gathered around the bore hole pumping water. As I approached I was greeted with big smiles and introduced to the children; LoveJesus was the first little girl to proudly tell me her name!

jabulani-1The children were pumping water to take to their garden some 100 feet away where they grow vegetables from which they make healthy school meals. Their ages ranged from 8 years old to 10 years old and so I decided to help them pump water and carry the buckets to the garden.

What amazed me was when watching the children turn the manual bore hole pump, they did so as if it were a game. Laughing at each other and swapping buckets as they neared filling. They would walk the buckets to the garden, water their crops and return to do it again and again. I stepped up and asked if I could give it a try. Two and a half buckets later I was sweating, panting and couldn’t feel my forearms anymore! The oldest child, smiled and saved my humiliation by gesturing that he will take over whilst I rested. He was my best friend in the village….for a short while. As soon as he had seen my pink out of breath face had returned to its usual colour, he let go of the handles and gestured for me to take over. Everyone in the village helps he explained….and I was no exception! I decided this time to not go as fast as I could, but rather see it as a game and joined in the laughter; to my amazement I was able to fill three buckets this time without passing out and it made the whole ‘work’ a lot more fun! (Note to self: always do something with a smile on your face!)

The guests arrived soon after and it was time to tour the school. There are different classrooms for different grades and I noticed a few more classrooms erected since the last time I had visited briefly. We were escorted by some Grade 7’s and shown the premises as well as the vegetable garden. After our brief inspection of the school it was time for the guests to sit with some Grade 1 little ones and go over some basic reading and writing as well as a favourite of theirs, story telling! This was done in an open air, outside classroom under the shade of a beautiful tree where the cool breeze kept the October heat at bay.

jabulani-2After some very interactive story telling, reading and stickers it was time to unfortunately bid farewell to the children as it was nearly lunch time for them and we needed to stop by the village Headmen to pass on our greetings.

The village Headmen lives a short drive away from the school and he was gracious enough to explain the way the village runs as well as show us his homestead, where he lives, sleeps and stores his grain. Noticeably there was a thick bunch of thorns at one of the grain stores windows where he explained that the local troop of baboons try every day to sneak in and help themselves to hand fulls of his grain!

The whole visit to the school and village was an amazing immersion into a different culture as well as to understand the difficulties that children can face when attending school and how it has helped to have a sponsored school in the area. Children no longer have to walk 10 miles to school each day, arriving tired and hungry and then have to walk 10 miles back in the afternoon.

The one thing that stood out most to me was how happy and friendly everyone was at the school and village, greeting us and allowing us a brief insight into their lives.

Graham Simmonds