In the morning the 8 of us visited a traditional Zambian village. A number of the staff come from a village 10 min upstream. Waterberry does a lot to support the children and school through donations. Currently they are paying for 12 teachers to go to school to receive some teacher training. They also pay school fees for some of the orphaned children. (One in three Zambian children are orphaned primarily due to HIV or TB).
Webby, a staff member who lives in the village, took us around, explained many things about their way of life and brought us to the school. It seems like a very hard, subsistence, monotonous life to me, but I wonder what it is like for the people who have been there for generations. But there is also a strong sense of community and interconnection. The men try to get jobs in town, mostly in tourism. They are hard to get and don't pay very well. The women mostly stay home with the children. Most young women have a baby tied to their backs while they perform their chores. A family’s cattle are their bank account. When a child goes to secondary school, they sell a cow. When a son gets married his family pays a bride price in cows.The children go to school until 7th grade. Those luck enough to have parents who can afford it are able to go to secondary school in Livingstone. The school is very basic, with few supplies but the kids are attentive and very happy to be there. The very young children were cautious of us and shy. The school age children loved having their picture taken and seeing themselves. We came upon a group of school girls walking home and Webby asked them to pose for a shot. I hung back from the group to talk with them and they asked to each have an individual picture taken. They would strike a pose, then all would gather around to see the girls picture, squealing and nodding. Then the next. Then the next. It was great fun.
In the afternoon we went to Victoria Falls. It was nothing like what I imagined. The falls is so huge that you cannot see more than a part of it at one time. The only way to see the whole thing is from the air. Fortunately we flew over it on the way in and got to see it. One of the walks takes you down to the bottom. It is a very strenuous, very hot walk. But the best thing about it is that it is a home to baboons. At first I was intimidated to see a large baboon sitting in the path but our driver had prepared us and said if we kept walking they would just move to the side. That did!! There were mothers grooming babies and a pair sitting on a bench looking like tourists.
You take another path to walk up across from the falls to see it. A couple who had gone the day before had told us that we would get very wet even with the ponchos they give you. Well, there is wet, snd there is wet. The spray from the falls is so powerful that when you get anywhere near it it is like being caught in a thunderstorm for 20 minutes. There is so much spray and mist that at most of the viewpoints you can't see the falls, only grey mist. By the time you are done you have walked through 6 inch puddles and are drenched! What an experience. We got a better view from a bridge a bit away and saw a rainbow over the falls.
We met a couple at the lodge from the UK who work with a school in Swaziland. Talking with them and seeing the school at the village gave life and context to a lot of the problems that REAP faces. It made understand even more how vast and complicated the problems are and how important it is for rural children to have an education. It is the only path to changing their lives