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News from David Selby - G-House 2009

The Gordonstoun Association was very pleased to hear from David Selby (G-House 2009), who has sent us his account of his volunteering work in Zambia over the summer holidays.

by David Selby

Over the summer I headed out with a group of Scouts and Girls Brigade from the North-East of England to Zambia. The purpose of our trip was to build a new classroom block for Kapishya Middle Basic School in Chinsali, the Northern District of Zambia. This project was not run by Gordonstoun but nonetheless followed the general ethos of Gordonstoun’s international service projects.

David Selby and his fellow Scout volunteers

We had planned this trip for over a year, spending every available opportunity raising the money needed for our own expenses as well as the materials to build the classrooms. Overall we needed to raise £1800 each for accommodation, food, flights and insurance, in addition to £35,000 for the main group fund, which comprised building materials and services essential to the project.

Back in England, the Scouts and Girls Brigade raised money through supermarket bag packs, coffee mornings, sponsored events and donations. However, for a Gordonstoun student in term-time, free time between lessons, services, activities, STUDYING etc. was a very scarce commodity, so I did my own fundraising efforts from school. I sold notecards and prints of my landscape photographs around the school grounds and raised over £1000 towards the trip, and made up the rest through grants from the Youth Opportunity Fund.

On arriving at the site in Zambia, we immediately noticed how keen the children were to get their education, and yet how scarce the facilities were that the school had to offer. The classroom we were building was for the older Grade Nine students, who had to walk up to 35km to another campus because Kapishya had no space for them.


Building the classroom Silhouette of bricklayers

We had been trained in bricklaying and construction skills over several training weekends back in the UK, and it was hot and tiring work, but we slogged on for 3 weeks and managed to build the classroom up to roof level. At times when we were asked to dance and sing with the whole school, however, we had to improvise, and though many pupils spoke no English, the Hokey-Kokey became very popular.

Overall the project was extremely rewarding and enlightening, and we found ourselves not wanting to leave. I would recommend everybody who gets the chance to go on any sort of International Service project – with Gordonstoun, Round Square, or outside of school – to seize the opportunity as it is a life-changing experience.

September 2009


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