After a fantastic send off from Pegasus House, #ZamFam18 set off on their 26 hour long journey to Bissell in Zambia.
The team made it to Heathrow in record time (for a Friday afternoon!) and couldn’t believe their luck when they got to check in and there was no queue either! After a speedy check in it was time to find a restaurant for a bite to eat, a good opportunity to also have a drink together to celebrate the team’s fundraising success, so a few bottles may have been drunk, after all, it was going to help aid sleep on the plane too!
After a six and half hour flight overnight from Heathrow to Dubai, then a seven hour flight from Dubai to Lusaka, the team were almost at their destination. By this time it was mid-afternoon on Saturday and although tired, there was a great sense of excitement in the air as the team hopped on the bus from the airport to head to their final destination – Bissell.
Iain Belson reflects on the welcome received as #ZamFam18 arrived at Bissell Community School: “Getting on that bus was a huge relief, we knew we were in the final stages of what had been a monster journey. We honestly didn’t know what to expect as the bus drew nearer to Bissell, but what awaited us was far beyond any of our expectations. As the bus drove up the road, we started to see all of the kids from the local area lining the road.
"The last thing I expected was a brass band, but that is exactly what turned up and played to us in the school. To say there were a few tears on that bus is an absolute understatement. Kids were waving flowers, singing and dancing, and as we left the bus the greeting from everyone gathered was absolutely unbelievable. I can’t put in words how welcomed we were made to feel. We met various local elders, church leaders and all of the teachers from the school, it was clear from them just how much this new school means to them, the feeling of pride thinking we have a part of making that happen is indescribable.
"I will leave the description of the toilets and showers for someone else, but needless to say they are interesting. After all the excitement it was 6pm and beginning to get dark so we quickly set up camp and enjoyed a nice meal and set about discussing the activities for our first day at Bissell school.”
Peter Thompson said: “Our first full day at Bissell Community School was Sunday and my goodness it was a tough one! Work started at 8.15am, straight after breakfast and a “bush shower”. We were equipped with spades, shovels, paintbrushes, sandpaper, filler and much more. The team were incredible but the amount we had to get through was daunting. Trying to dig metre square holes in rock hard earth was enough to send one of helpers to hospital!
"I was incredibly proud of the whole team but also blown away by the support that turned out to help us. From a delegation from the Boys and Girls Brigade, Teachers from the school and volunteers from the local community.
Who knew we had so many skills! Really backbreaking though (literally as far as Clive the helper was concerned, hope he’s ok) – we’re all a few blisters richer.
"Looking back on what we achieved on day one was so rewarding. I think we all felt justified in having a crack at football or netball when 5pm came.”
Aimee Bridle tells us more about the competitive netball game the girls took part: “Zambian netball consists of two things, prison rules and full contact. What we all thought was a non-contact sport certainly isn’t in Zambia, and a few of us are sporting lovely injuries to prove that we took part in the game including a young Zambian girl who sliced her foot open, because who needs shoes whilst playing netball in the bush! For anyone who is worried about our pride, we lost 4-1. To finish our first day we’re all sitting around a campfire waiting for Peter T to start Kumbaya.”
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