School holidays can be boring. However, this april the tuition students from FCTrelief in Zambia experienced an exciting as well as helpful holiday workshops. Project manager Tabea Kusongwa reports.

During the first semester break this year, we offered two weeks of holiday workshops for all our students. The students from George Compound also attended the event and received a transport allowance each morning for the one-hour trip to Linda Compound and back home in the evening. All holiday fun days were a great success. We offered courses on various practical skills, lectures and health care.

Mend your own pants

The teachers talked about different subjects. To motivate the students, they performed some scientific experiments and played different quizzes with the students. We played various games and organized a food contest that was fun for everyone - both the participants and the spectators. Daily various sports activities were on the program. Above all, the girls liked to play netball and the boys, of course, played football. Even a teacher who claimed that he could not play football finally took pleasure in it.

The boys are ready for an exciting football match

A great highlight was the sewing course with a professional seamstress. Every year this seamstress sews most of our students' uniforms and school bags. On the first day she taught everyone how to sew on a button with needle and threat. On the second day, each student sewed a small bag with a zip by hand (all the material came in a container from Switzerland). It was great to see the results and the happy faces! Each student can now mend torn trousers or a torn shirt on their own. The participants were very happy with their new skill.

Even young gentlemen enjoy sewing.

Another highlight was the presentation by a pilot who worked for the Zambian flying mission. He told us what it means to be a pilot, what the career of a pilot is like and what advantages and disadvantages the profession has. That too was very interesting for everyone.

The participants of the holiday chat listen excitedly to the pilot.

Glasses, tampons and hearing aids

We took 13 students who had problems with their eyes to an eye clinic where they were examined and treated with medication. Five of them need glasses for which we have received a quotation.
One day, we grouped the boys and girls separatly for an hour and talked to them about specific problems they are facing in terms of hygiene and puberty. For the girls, we did a lesson on sanitary pads and tampons: they heard about the existence of a tampon for the first time and really appreciate that we give them sanitary pads whenever they need it.

Girls question traditional health care concepts.

The girls also asked us about some traditional beliefs as to whether or not they would really affect their health. For example, the girls are taught not to add salt to food when they have their period. The adolescent girls are also taught that they should not take any medication during their period, as the blood in the uterus can clot and they may then have problems getting pregnant in the future. Another conviction is that girls or women should not eat directly from the pot or lick the wooden spoon after cooking, as this could otherwise lead to anæmia.

The hearing test provides information on whether further support is needed.

On the last day of our workshop week, the Starkey Hearing Foundation visited us to examine everyone's ears. They performed proper ear cleaning and listening tests. Among the 74 examined are seven, who will need further examinations and probably hearing aids in the future. We are pleased that the Starkey Hearing Foundation can help and support us. About thirty students said they heard better after their ears were well cleaned and the wax removed. The audiologist Dr. Mwamba taught the children how to clean their ears without using cotton swabs.

"I am glad that I can hear better"

In the afternoon of the same day we saw some concluding contributions from our students with songs, dances and speeches. It was touching to hear some of the statements:

  • "Many thanks to all the teachers and leaders who have set up this program for us and taught us important life skills and knowledge."
  • "We liked what we did here so much, the food was good, the games were fun and I really enjoyed playing netball!"
  • "Many thanks to the management, which has allowed us to be here, to feel at home and just have fun."
  • "I am so glad that I can hear better now."
  • "We value your care for us very much and find that we are so important to the people who make it possible."
  • "I'll miss you all and this special time when I have to go back to school next week."
  • "Please pass on our thanks to all the people in Switzerland and we appreciate what they are doing for us."

The students are happy to show their hand-sewn bags.

A 12th-grade student, sponsored by us for three years, thanked us for everything we have done so far in his life, his educational support and the eye and ear examination. He went home with a big smile.