The Trip Out
We set off from Manchester Airport in the late evening and after a layover in Frankfurt and 12 hours of flying, we made it to Johannesburg in the early hours of Friday morning. Then there was a 5 hour journey up to Mliwane Wildlife reserve. This consisted of a stop at a service station, surrounded by rhinos, zebras and wilder-beast. After our first night in Eswatini, we went on a walk through the wildlife reserve. There was lots of excitement about seeing monkeys in the trees and being within a few metres of a heard of zebras.
Early Sunday morning, we embarked on another long journey on very bumpy tracks up to the project site- Mlindzini High School. Once we had arrived, we were greeted by a warm welcome from the community and began setting up our tents for the next 6 nights. This proved to be a slight struggle in the strong winds at the top of the mountain. We worked well together to identify our responsibilities while immersing ourselves in the local community, and helping out where needed.
Our main goal was to help with the construction of accommodation for the teachers who currently have to sleep in the classrooms. Many of us helped with mixing the cement, moving bricks and landscaping. Many also helped in the classrooms and taught lessons, played games with the students and got to know lots of locals. Half of the group visited a nearby primary school and also taught lessons there.
Later in the week we were invited to participate in the school sports day. So, training began. Sports day started with a netball match, very competitive to say the least. Abbey Gate lost 9-1 which was rather embarrassing. Then there was athletics, where we didn’t stand a chance in the long distance races, but we won majority of our sprints. The boys football was a very suspenseful game resulting in 1-1 so then there were penalties. Unfortunately, Abbey Gate lost 4-3 on the penalties, leaving the team feeling very frustrated.
Due to Friday being a national holiday, there were no students in school. So, we relaxed and prepared for the next phase of our long journey on the Saturday morning. Many enjoyed reading and stargazing in the evening. We are all looking forward to the next part of our expedition and have learnt so much from the community in and around Mlindzini High School.