The Bushcamp Company has supported Chilongozi School in Malama Chiefdom for quite a few years, helping build teachers houses, sponsoring pupils and paying for additional teachers. But something we have never been able to do is take the kids into the park on a game drive. This year we decided to change that and after much planning and co-ordination we welcomed over 100 pupils and teachers across the River to Bilimungwe for lunch. Getting 100 kids across the Luangwa was our biggest hurdle, although, on the day it went incredibly smoothly - thanks to a very committed boat poler - who also took the opportunity to come and see the camps.
The kids came across in two "shifts", one first thing in the morning and the second lots in the afternoon, swapping over at lunch. Our staff proudly showed off their camps, offering the children guided tours before serving a hearty barbeque with traditional "relish & Nsima" and sodas - many of the kids rarely get to enjoy such a big lunch, being luck to have just one meal a day. The highlight though for the pupils was the game drive in the park. Four of our guides - James Chabuka, Gilbert Mjobvu, Misheck Milanzi and Byron Kakumbi - delighted in sharing their vast knowledge with the kids - enjoying being able to guide in the local language. Just before lunch one group came across a pride of lions; one radio call and all the guides brought the kids over to see them - for many it was the first time they had seen lions and for all the closest they ever hope to get!
All in all it was a huge success - with one of the kids even stated he didn't "want to change school, and move on to Hight school, because it will mean I could not come back and do a game drive next year"!
Indeed we are planning to to take all 200 pupils on a game drive next year - and we are sure we can find a way for him to do both!