Photo by Brenda Veldtman, NGO Photography, Photojournalism

A new school

A story I did with an NGO called "Learn As One" (founded by Steve Heyes) a few years ago in Zambia. This school was in desperate need of well... a school! The building they were in at that time was borrowed and the parents already started making bricks for a new school but didn't have nearly enough. Some of the children were walking up to 14km's a day to get to school.

We were a team of four from all over (South Africa, England and Whales...) who documented one little girl in particular and shared images, video footage and articles/stories on-line in order to save funds for a new school building. The information was shared as we went along and we could see funds accumulating in real-time.

Saviour was a 10-year-old orphan from Simakakata - a rural town in Zambia. She and a few of the other children had to walk extremely far (starting before sunrise) every day. Sometimes crossing dangers like elephants and other wild animals just to get to school. With no electricity, the afternoons were spent getting water from a nearby river (not always clean), cooking, cleaning, sweeping around the huts (so that snakes could be detected) and taking care of the other smaller children and sick elders. After sunset, all the children basically went to bed (no electricity or tv or light for homework).

As a photographer, this was a real eye-opener for me. We went out to help the people of Simakakata to build a new school and enough funds were eventually raised to build a few classrooms, but I took home so much more than I could ever give...

Firstly, the teachers at the school were amazing and teaching with little or no remuneration. George - the headmaster with a passion for his work was also such an inspiration having to cycle 7km's to school as well. The children were all so sweet and content (even with so little).

My husband and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary while I was there and all the learners gave me hand made cards. It was extremely special.

Even with so little the people we met were living full and meaningful lives and utilised everything they had. They were content even in between all the hardship. Saviour was always smiling and she and her friends were constantly singing or making jokes on their way to school. At school, the kids worked hard and respected and listened to their teachers. Although their current school at the time was in an awful state it did not stop them from wanting to learn and dreaming of a better future.

One day we asked all the children to write down what they wanted to become when they were older. Some of them dreamt of becoming teachers, others wanted to become doctors, engineers or join the police force.

One of my favourite photos I took during that whole trip was one of a little girl who wanted to become president one day. Her enthusiasm was contagious. I hope she follows her dream.

Photo by Brenda Veldtman, NGO Photography, Photojournalism
Photo by Brenda Veldtman, NGO Photography, Photojournalism
Photo by Brenda Veldtman, NGO Photography, Photojournalism
Photo by Brenda Veldtman, NGO Photography, Photojournalism
Photo by Brenda Veldtman, NGO Photography, Photojournalism
Photo by Brenda Veldtman, NGO Photography, Photojournalism
Photo by Brenda Veldtman, NGO Photography, Photojournalism
Photo by Brenda Veldtman, NGO Photography, Photojournalism
Photo by Brenda Veldtman, NGO Photography, Photojournalism
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