How Nayamba School, Zambia, enriches a UK village

Nayamba Auction 2016 8622

March 17, 2017

From its beginnings as a small school on Nagwaza Farm, built to educate the children of local farm workers, Nayamba is now a flourishing school attended by over 290 children. Thanks to the incredible commitment and amazing fundraising achievements of the residents of Exminster and beyond, last year saw the completion of an ambitious building programme. Nayamba School now consists of nine classrooms, a pre-school, kitchen, staff room and a library space. On site teachers’ accommodation has also been built (which is essential due to the school’s rural location). A caretaker maintains the grounds and buildings, and a cook provides a meal of hot enriched porridge for every pupil each day. We have also built a playground, football pitch and netball court for the children to enjoy. All this has been achieved through the 100% donation model, which means that every penny raised goes directly towards making a difference at the school, rather than being swallowed up in administration costs.

The vision behind Nayamba School is that education can transform whole communities. But it isn’t just the community around Nayamba School which has been enriched – the Exminster community has also gained a great deal from its connection with the school. Lots of us enjoyed coming together to support the charity through social events like the Nayamba Auction Night, the Call My Wine Bluff evening and the New Year’s Eve Party in the Victory Hall. Children and teenagers also joined together to raise funds through events like the Rugby Fun Run and the ‘100 heroes’ campaign.

We often hear UK news stories about the increase in mental health problems among young people, and growing levels of stress in the workplace. But evidence shows that helping others is actually beneficial for your own mental health and wellbeing. It can help reduce stress, improve your emotional wellbeing and even benefit your physical health. Maybe this is one of the reasons why so many Exminster residents have found that helping the Nayamba School has also enriched their own lives. As Sarah Collins explained, after visiting the school in June, “Everyone I met at Nayamba made me realise that you cannot underestimate the effect and buzz of our visits, and what this means to all those connected with Nayamba School. On a personal note, meeting my sponsored child, Costa, was very emotional, and an experience I will never forget. Spending time reading and chatting with Costa really put into context the opportunity that this support creates for him and his future.”

Sarah Whalley, headteacher of Exminster School, also recognised the links between our two communities. “Driving into the school felt like arriving at a very familiar place. The ‘goosebump’ moment was the realisation of what one community has done for another. One community has provided, and is sustaining, an improving school for 290 children; providing a free education; providing a daily food programme and funding the enthusiastic and engaging teachers.

“I had an overwhelming feeling of where compassion and kindness takes over all the chaos that is currently happening in the world. The similarities between Exminster Community Primary School and Nayamba School are huge: children are children and learning is learning wherever we are in the world. The motivation and engagement of children in both settings is evident. It is the community that speaks loud and clear – the community within the schools and what one community provides for another.  It’s huge and it is overwhelming. I was expecting our trip to be an amazing experience. It was, but it was more than that. It’s not something that you walk away from, it’s something that gets under your skin and makes you re-evaluate. It made me ask the question: ‘What’s next?’”

But it’s not just those who have visited Nayamba that have enjoyed the connection with this rural Zambian community. Evie Hitt, aged 11, cycled 50 kilometres to raise sponsorship money to help build a classroom. “I wanted to help the children at Nayamba School because I don’t think it’s fair that they don’t have as many things as we do. They didn’t even have enough classrooms or books. I didn’t just want to feel sorry for them, I wanted to actually do something to help, so I decided to do a 50 kilometre bike ride and ask people to sponsor me. I managed to raise £240! I used to feel like I couldn’t make a difference to people in the world but now I know that I can - and it makes me feel good. I helped buy some bricks to build the new classroom and so I’m connected to the Nayamba School.”

If you want to be part of this amazing project, don’t worry, it’s not too late. From sponsoring one of our new teachers, to setting yourself a personal challenge or telling others about the charity – there’s loads of ways to get involved (and increase your own happiness at the same time!) Why not contact us?