Alex writing here, and for Steven and I the last few days have been quite something. Anna and Max’s departure last Thursday was always inevitable, but it was with heavy hearts that we said goodbye to them. We’ve become a close group over this intense, relatively short period of time.
However, our spirits have not dried up – far from it! An opportunity to promote the Academy in a performance arose, and we had just two days to prepare for it. Taking place at an art exhibition (at the Zambia National Farmers’ Union of all places), we provided musical entertainment for three hours, raising money and awareness for and about the Academy as we did so. I should explain who ‘we’ refers to – Steven and I have been joined in Lusaka by William Ham, who represents the Estelle Trust (which has provided a substantial part of the funding for our programme here). We’ve had a great time with Will, and his experience playing piano on cruise ships and the like was invaluable on an occasion such as this! The three of us were very keen that teachers should also be involved in this performance, and Obrien, Lulu and Catherine joined us to play violin and sing. It was great fun to form duets and ensembles with the teachers for this, and I know they got a lot out of it too. The variety was fantastic: personally, my evening ranged from playing entire Bach and Vivaldi suites with Obrien to playing Jeff Buckley’s ‘Hallelujah’ for everyone to sing along to. So, the evening was a great experience, but it was also a resounding success: we raised over 1400 kwacha (almost £150) for the Academy – not bad going for a few hours at someone else’s event!
I’m writing this on Sunday evening, and Steven and I have just returned from a lovely ‘braai’ (barbecue) at Paul’s house (the director of the Academy). As well as some truly exceptional steak and wine, we discussed future ways to capitalise on the Academy’s outreach potential, and it seems there are some very worthwhile and exciting ways in which the Academy may be able to extend its programme and scope in this way. Building on the unforgettable experience we had last week at the incredibly remote school, Steven, Will and I are about to spend two days working at a community school in Lusaka. We have two 8-hour teaching days ahead of us, and we’re currently diligently planning! I feel really propelled by our experiences last week, and certainly it was an immense confidence-boost. If we can engage primary-age children living more than 40 minutes’ drive from the nearest tarmac road, many of whom don’t speak any English, then we should be able to do something really meaningful with more time in this next school.
It’s not even 9pm (or 21 hours, as we’ve been getting used to referring to it here) yet, but by this time the long Zambian nights have well and truly drawn in, and we’re finding ourselves once again remarkably ready for sleep. I think we’re going to need it…!