It was great to meet the new head teacher Mrs Misozi Phiri at Chiwawatala this September. It was their first day of term and it was fantastic to see a well resourced school running efficiently. We even saw the books and resources that we provide them with each term stacked up in the library ready to be given out. The contrast is huge compared to our first visit in 2003 at which time there were only 4 teachers teaching 600 pupils in 7 grades. There are currently 817 pupils being taught in 10 classrooms by 18 teachers (2 of whose salaries are paid by Sausage Tree), a ratio of 45 pupils to 1 teacher. Due to such high pupil numbers they still need to teach on a rotational basis. One session starts at 7am with children finishing at midday. The second session starts at 1pm and finishes at 5pm.
Conservation Science Africa (CSA) still farm 2 vegetable plots at the school and continue to educate the community in sustainable vegetable growing and a percentage of the profit made from selling the vegetables to local safari lodges is given to the school. Lisa who runs our projects out there also continues to hold tree planting competitions as firewood is becoming a huge problem. Many people are now having to travel great distances to get it as there is none left close to the villages, this can be a very dangerous job as the areas they tend to go to support a large elephant population.
During our visit in September we also learnt that the World Food Organisation (WFO) who provided a meal a day to all the children at Chiwawatala has sadly stopped funding this project. Thankfully the Luangwa Conservation and Community Fund (LCCF), of which our team on the ground are members of, now provide each child with a meal of Sampo each day. This is basically refined maize meal with oil, sugar and salt added to it. Without this some of the pupils would not be guaranteed a regular meal each day which is crucial but not always possible at home.