In Tandem with Africa and Asia

A teacher's journey over three continents on a tandem bicycle
3 minutes reading time (656 words)

A 'rest' from cycling: Beyond the Bike goes Beyond Cranleigh


Having said goodbye to the majority of the cyclists following the successful group ride, a core of

the group remained to enjoy 24 hours of peace & quiet before greeting 17 students from Cranleigh

School where I teach. They had flown out with fellow teacher Rob Lane for a two week building project

at Kawama Community School in Kitwe...

Distance: 150 kms
4 classrooms & an office j31 semi-completed at Kawama community School, Kitwe


"Beyond Cranleigh" is an iniative that I've been working on for the last 2 years with the school and

in particular my colleague Richard Humes. As the most recent video shows (soon to be on the front

page of the website) it is a partnership with the charity Beyond Ourselves aiming to give Cranleigh

students an opportunity to do services in communities 'beyond' Cranleigh, both in the UK & overseas.

The Zambia project that I've been focusing on is the first practical outcome of the iniative.


Over the last 12 months, we've been busy planning two trips to Kawama School, to help the community

build its first classrooms. Like many countries in Africa the Zambian government can't afford to

educate all of its children in government schools and relies on community schools to make up the

difference. They are often poorly equipped and rely on volunteer teachers, giving many children a

chance to get a basic education that they wouldn't otherwise have received.

The recent trip's aim were to complete the walls of the four classrooms up to the concrete ringbeam

just above head height as well as running extra-curricular activities for Kawama students. Local

builders will then finish the structure before another Cranleigh group arrive in October to help

local voluteers  complete the rendering and painting.

 

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For a bunch of unskilled 17 & 18 year old Cranleighans working with local voluteers, this first stage

of the project was always going to be ambitious. However, with the help of some skilled Zambian

builders as well as Duncan Collins (who led the first Beyond Ourselves build in 2008) and my father

Tim, the team coped admirably. When L6th former Ellie Stonell teamed up on her 18th birthday with

Pastor Cephas to lay the final j31 on the last day of the project (see photo below), everyone was able to stand back

and feel pround of what they had acheived. Not only had walls been built but solid foundations had

been layed for a relationship between the two communities that we hope will last indefinitely.



The trip was divided into a cultural weekend, visiting the local market and returning to Kawama for

the Sunday Church service (a wonderfully colourful community event that I know I'll remember for a

long time, and not just for the excellent African music). It seems that there are two well trodden

escape routes from the harsh reality of life out here: Religion & Shake-Shake (the local brew).

Irrespective of one's belief, it is clear to me that the former does help to bring the community

together in a positive way.

We returned to Ndola for a final weekend to celebrate Ellie's and Alex's 18th birthdays before the

group flew back to the UK, leaving me to look forward to the next leg into Malawi and the more

'free-style' part of the cycle. No support truck, more hills and heat. A local looked relived when I

explained that I wouldn't be cycling in Zambia in October (the hottest month here). Although her

concern increased when I mentioned that I would be heading towards the equator. At least I could

leave my fleece and leg warmers in Zambia.

Thanks to everyone for their support so far, especially Mark Jenkins and Richard Humes for making it

a memorable start to the project. It was sad to say goodbye to them after such an eventful first six

weeks of the trip but then I guess someone had to go back to work...

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