VOLUNTEER BLOG: Exploring Swaziland and taking on 6 new schools!

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Today we went very far indeed… like really far! It was me, Michael and Wilson so I was the driver for the day.  I was happy about this as I love to drive the car but not as happy as there is definitely someone wrong with it – it pulls to the left a lot!
I got up very early and, as the car had been packed the night before, we were able to just get up and go!  We were out the door and on the road by 7:30.  Swaziland is split into 3 levels, the high feld, middle feld and low feld.  Malkerns is on the middle feld.  Today we were travelling down the low feld and to some of the most rural areas in all of Swaziland.  The low felt is where all the most dangerous things are in the country.  Michael explained to me that this is where all the Malaria is and the most dangerous animals.  This is where all the poisonous snakes are, which I was not so happy to hear about. One of the most dangerous being the Black Mamba.  Michael says depending how big the snake and where it bites you, you could only have minutes to live.
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As we were driving, Wilson noticed a really big machine standing the middle of some cane fields.  I saw it was well and was curious to know what it was.  Apparently it is a cane cutting device that is 1000 times more efficient than humans and cuts it a lot faster.  Yes,  this does sound good, however, thousands of jobs would be lost and the Swazi people are definitely not keen to have the machine in the country but Big Bend has brought one.
Once we arrived in the Big Bend area ,we started planning on what schools we were going to visit.  The first couple of schools we went to were very easy to find.  However, the 3rdschool  that we tried to find was not so easy; in fact we didn’t even make it to the school at all!  The road to the school was so ruff and bumpy and I just kept thinking “the poor car”.  We drove for what seemed like an eternity until we got to a dead end and the entrance to a dam. The most frustrating thing about this was from where we were we could actually see the school! After Michael checking his good map and confirming that the road we were on there was no way of getting to the school!  Another funny thing was straight after getting annoyed about not being able to get to the school, Wilson realised that it was a school SKRUM had visited before!
To get to the next set of schools we had to drive very far and it took so long as I could not drive fast because the roads were horrific!  At one of the schools there was a lovely head mistress and she came out to talk to Michael.   Michael told me afterwards that she had forgot he was in a wheel chair and had opened the door for him to get out!
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The last school we went to visit was again in the middle of nowhere. Michael and Naomi had attempted to find this school before and couldn’t find it so this was going to be a challenge. Before going to the school Michael showed me and Wilson this grave deep in the bush in the middle of nowhere. The grave read that the child was only 5 when it died and Michael explained when the Africans were coming through here that the child might have been bitten by a snake or something like that.  The grave was put there about 80 years ago!
After going to the grave and taking some good pictures for Michael we headed off to find the final school for the day.  When we finally arrived after doing some serious 4by4ing and trying not to run over cows in the road we made it to the school.  The first teacher we spoke to was teaching a class and pointed us in the direction of the head teacher’s office.
Beth 'The Bridge'
Once we had gone to all the schools we planned to go to and it was starting to get to school closing time, we decided to head home. While we were out in the bush, I saw the Swaziland national bird the gwala gwala. Looking at the map there was one more school that we decided we would try and get to before going home. The road was a lot better than the previous one and it was weird not to be bouncing around and going so slowly.  After a whole lot of driving,  we didn’t manage to find the school so carried on in town.  To get to town there is a big river to cross and you have to drive across just a long concrete slab to get to the other side. I was very nervous and Wilson was willing to get out and take a picture of me driving over it! (well I had to buy him a bag of crisps for the favour!).
The total number of new schools visited today was 6! All of the schools were so positive and really were up for rugby being introduced into the school. One of the head teachers was so scary to begin with though, he called me and Wilson in and it was like we were naughty school kids. When we sat down he didn’t say anything and moved stuff around his office until finally sitting down and talking to us.  In the end he was very friendly and nice and really up for rugby!
The car is now VERY bad and is going to be taken to the garage tomorrow to be sorted out. It was so bad that I could  do left corners without touching the steering wheel and it was just shaking loads.

We finally arrived home after stopping at the shopping mall for airtime and I had to help Wilson pick out a present for his sister. The evening consisted of drinking a lot of Amerula and laughing a lot it was just such a funny evening!

Bethany Neave
(If you would like to volunteer for this charity in Swaziland which involves rugby coaching, AIDS education, painting the charity’s logos on the outside of schools, and generally getting involved in all aspects of running the charity, then check out http://www.volunteervacations.co.uk, email us on info@volunteervacations.co.uk or phone us on 01483 331551 or 07833 208 158)
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About www.volunteervacations.co.uk

We send gap year students, university students, families, people on Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award and people on career breaks to coach sports, teach and work in orphanages, work in marine conservation, primates conservation, land conservation, looking after rescued jungle animals, animal welfare, women's empowerment programs (sewing/fashions), men's empowerment programs (carpentry, plumbling, electrics, DIY), medical shadowing (doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists), after schools clubs, reaching out to underprivileged children and adults in South Africa, Kenya, Swaziland, Mozambique, Ghana, Ecuador and The Galapagos, Thailand and India. In Swaziland we offer bespoke rugby coaching placements with the charity Skrum where volunteers (18 ) can take their Level 1 rugby coaching certificate and then travel on to other placements and coach rugby. In India, the placements are suitable for families and undeer 18's are accepted providing they are accompanied by an adult. India is also suitable for Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. We also offer building renovation and reconstruction in India in July. India placements can be from 2 to 12 weeks.
This entry was posted in AIDS in Swaziland, Gap Year, Gap Year in Swaziland, rugby charities in Africa, rugby coaching in Africa, SKrum, Volunteer rugby coaching abroad, volunteer rugby coaching in Swaziland and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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