Friday, 12 May 2017

Zambia For Tourists

Trying to get accurate and up to date figures on the various sectors of the Zambian economy is very difficult if not impossible. The Mining industry, mainly copper, has been Zambia’s biggest source of income for many years but due to various worldwide factors the money raised from this sector is decreasing. Tourism meanwhile is growing. As many of you may have seen there has been quite a lot of information in the European and US press regarding Zambia’s potential. At the moment Zambia mainly relies on just two main advertising routes, the Mighty Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and Safaris and wildlife.

Many people would combine both attractions visiting Victoria Falls first. These majestic Falls on the Zambezi River need little introduction. You can visit them all times of year and get a very different feel from an almost dry rock face and cliffs in the dry season to a raging torrent and dense spray all around in the wet season.

Victoria Falls in the dry season
Looking from above Victoria Falls over a very dry Zambezi River at sunset

The Falls with all the spray

Victoria Falls in full flow

Although Livingstone has a small wildlife park, the two major parks are some distance away. Kafue National Park is a huge wildlife area the size of Wales and South Luangwa National Park is smaller but is more suitable for tourists. Both are at least one and a half days drive away from Livingstone. Roads in Zambia are often of poor quality so many people will prefer to fly, but of course that means higher costs. Both parks have all of the “traditional” African animals such as Lion, Leopard and Elephant along with many other animals, birds and reptiles. 

Early morning mist on the Kafue River

Puku in the sunset beside a lake in Kafue

Spotted Hyena on the main road in Kafue

Lion cub drinking from a pool by Kafue River

Lion affection in Kafue

Young Elephant playing in a mud wallow

Lion fight in South Luangwa

A nocturnal hunter, the Leopard

Thorneycroft Giraffe in South Luangwa

The Lilac Breasted Roller, one of the most beautiful birds in Zambia

The Crowned Crane with Elephants watching

Wild Dogs play fighting

Friday, 5 May 2017

What’s the point of knowing what a balanced diet consists of if you can’t prepare one?

This was the message for a great lesson I happened to see when visiting Greater Joy School a few weeks ago. The grade 6 class had been looking at a healthy balanced diet in science and so the training teacher in the class decided to teach a hand on lesson to demonstrate what this looks like in ‘real life’. The lesson consisted of preparing a feast with as many different food types as possible.

Here the teacher is discussing potatoes – as she prepared the potatoes for a Beef stew she discussed the starch in them, the need for energy foods, she reminded the children to use the correct scientific language to describe these food groups ‘Carbohydrates’. As you can see from the photo there was a wide range of food available – not normally what we expect to see from our community schools. The feast was a result of careful planning and preparation– The teachers had divided the class into 3 groups – carbohydrates, fruit and vegetable and protein. Then within each group they had asked for different food items – discreetly asking more vulnerable families to bring the cheaper easily available food such as tomatoes grown in their own garden. Wealthier pupils were asked to contribute meat or fruit. A very clever way to ensure that all pupils were able to be ‘equal’ in their contribution to the lesson.

Challenging stereotypes...The teacher asks “who wants to fry the fish?” - Many of the boys were keen to try cooking as this is normally a ‘women’s job at home.

Preparing potatoes for the potato salad
Gutting fish ready for seasoning. Children learning about different types of protein but also how to prepare and season fish for cooking. 

Sifting for stones in the rice
I was completely distracted from my normal work and found myself joining in and asking children questions about food and cooking at home. Sadly I had to leave before the feast began but was very glad to have had a glimpse of some truly great and inspirational teaching.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Reflections From Cranleigh Students

As an introduction to Kawama Community School, we observed a Grade 5 class, taught by Barbara. The children were learning irregular verbs in English, and they were very enthusiastic. Every child participated and thoroughly engaged in the lesson. They showed great respect towards Barbara, and impressive determination. One girl achieved 10/10 on the verbs exercise, and it was inspiring to see her pride in this. We moved on to Grade 1 for their printing class, which is part of their national curriculum. Their energy was great, whilst also being rather chaotic! The teacher, Doreen, kept control of the situation, and remained a calm presence in the room. After lunch, we had the opportunity to interview the school director, Pastor Cephas, and two of the school cooks. We learnt more about them individually, in addition to Zambian life in general. Cephas explained that people’s approach towards education has been improving over the past few years and the Kawama community are beginning to appreciate the work the school is doing.

On Saturday, we went to “Mechanics for Africa”, an organisation that trains mechanics over a 2 year course, at the end of which they achieve a City & Guilds accredited Diploma. We met Jason, who runs the charity, and he helped us understand the aims and objectives of the project. After a short safety briefing we learnt the basic principles of how to service a car and the excellent tuition by MFA mechanics meant that everyone was confident on how to change a tyre, check and replace the oil, clean the air filter and check battery voltage. We found it interesting to speak with the mechanics as they all had aspirations of opening their own garage in the future. 

A statement from Jason stayed with many of us: “Africa doesn’t need help, it needs opportunities.” This really made us reflect on sustainability and how ‘charity’ is more about giving people the opportunity to earn their own source of reliable income.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Getting It...

After a trip to Zambia, I often get asked what was the highlight of the trip?

There were the obvious moments; being with friends and colleagues again after a few months away from them, meeting our newest addition to the team family (baby Charlie Isaiah Whitcombe!), seeing the teachers at our partner schools continuing to flourish in the classroom. And of course, there’s always the opportunity for bean sorting!

But often for me, when we have visiting teams, the highlight is always the same. And never was it more so than on this recent trip with Cranleigh School.

My highlight is journeying with people as they start to “get it”.

By that we mean…getting to grips with the big issues, the big questions that are part of the everyday when you are involved in development and not-for-profit life.

There is something so special to me about walking with people, especially young people, as they begin to grapple with the injustice in our world, the inequality, the pain and struggle and yet at the same time witness them be surprised and inspired by the hope, the faith, the development, the possibilities for the future.

To see them start to unpick what they had previously been told was true, what the media has shown them to be true and challenge it head on. To truly understand the land, its culture and its people.

To realise that we don’t have the answers, that we aren’t the ‘saviours’ coming to bestow all our knowledge and goodness on those who are less fortunate than ourselves. That in fact, historically ‘we’ have got it so wrong and caused more damage than good, creating dependency and not offering empowerment and sustainability at all.

It’s the main reason we do trips, we aren’t a tour company. If people want to go to a developing nation and feel good about ‘helping the poor’ then we’re not the organisation for them!

My heart for the students (and anyone) we have visit Zambia with us is that they might be challenged and changed. That they might take all that they taste, see, hear, smell and touch, and have it stay with them. So that, as people of influence and affluence they might make choices that impact others well.

That they might be part of the generation that truly makes a difference.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Forms And Fundraising!

Just a little summary of what has been happening in the Beyond Ourselves UK office this past 2 weeks.


As many of you know, we are changing our bank account – no mean feat! So all our dear supporters have been emailed asking them to cancel their standing order, and restart it with a different bank. I pressed the ‘send’ button with fear and trepidation. However, I need not have worried – our lovely friends have been very rapid in taking action. In life there are those who act straight away, and those who procrastinate (I fully admit to being in the latter camp with things that aren’t straightforward!). So we’ve had the first wave, and the procrastinators I am sure will follow shortly. But a big THANK YOU to you all for continuing to partner with us. It’s a journey we’re on together, whether you see the day to day running or not.


· This month one of my dear friends had a ‘significant’ birthday, and rather than have presents he very kindly asked for donations to Beyond Ourselves. I am delighted to report that, along with his generosity, we received £1000 which amounts to one teacher’s salary for the year. Thank you Dave!

· Jodie and Andy Kelman (from Big & Red Storage) went to speak about Beyond Ourselves at the Rotary Club in Edmonton. They generously donated a 2KG Easter Egg which I have raffled at Stephen James BMW today. We raised £283.00 which is a fantastic sum. Congratulations to Phoebe Clarke in our Enfield MINI Aftersales! And thank you to the Edmonton Rotary Club.

Congratulations to the winner Phoebe

· Yesterday, we had two runners in the Brighton Marathon! Philip Miles and Eve Makombera. Whilst I love the hot weather, I expect it was a bit hot for them! Well done and a big thank you to both.

Eve Makombera

Philip Miles

· And finally we have our annual Golf Day on Friday 16th June at Bush Hill Park Golf Club followed by a BBQ and Party. If you are interested in playing, do get in touch by email to Tickets for the evening party will also be on sale soon. A great day/evening not to be missed.

So thank you for your forms and your fundraising. If you think of any ways of raising funds this Spring, then please go ahead. We very much depend upon your generosity to keep the work in Zambia going.

By Karen

Friday, 31 March 2017

The Annual Beyond Ourselves BBQ & Party!

Our annual Beyond Ourselves BBQ/Party will take place on the evening of Friday 16th June (after the golf). Put the date in your diary – excellent evening either to bring friends to or come with your department from work. Tickets will be on sale next month. Good evening to support Beyond Ourselves – our Group charity.

BBQ/live music/raffle/auction/Kazza’s cocktails!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Transforming And Getting Stronger

This year I have set myself the goal of finishing the year physically stronger than I started it. (I failed last year so am even more determined this year!). Why am I doing this you may ask? Well, if I’m honest I faced the fact that I’m not getting any younger and if I want to continue to do all that I do, and more, in to the future then I need to make sure I am healthy enough and fit enough to do so. Who knows what the future brings, but whatever it does bring I want to be ready and strong enough to take it on…

And this is the very same reason we are making some administrative changes to the organisation of Beyond Ourselves this year as well. We started out life as a small family trust, but if we want to be ready for whatever the future holds, then we want to make sure we’re strong enough to handle it.

I am delighted that we are moving the governance of Beyond Ourselves to ‘Above + Beyond’, a new charitable trust housing several community transformation projects locally in the UK and overseas. This will enable us as a project to share and centralise some of the key ‘back office’ administrative and governance tasks required for running a growing charity. It also provides longevity to the project, no longer reliant on a few people but a wider board and group of people carrying the vision of Beyond Ourselves into the future.

We will continue to operate as ‘Beyond Ourselves’ and there won’t be any changes to the Beyond Ourselves team, who are just as passionate as they have ever been to see individuals empowered and communities transformed in Zambia. In fact, the changes enable the team to focus more on delivering the project and developing strategies for the future, rather than getting weighed down by admin. (Hooray!)

It is also my pleasure to be the Director of Above + Beyond as we develop the charity and transition Beyond Ourselves in to it.

Here is a letter from Ian Theodoreson - the Chair of Trustees at Above + Beyond:

Letter To Beyond Ourselves Supporters