After an emotional and fond farewell at school, our intrepid World Challenge explorers set off by train for Heathrow from where they flew to Livingstone in Zambia. Having acclimatised themselves to their new surroundings, the adventure really began with an elephant back safari.
The students were amazed to be so close to these magnificent animals that previously, most of them had only ever seen at the zoo or Safari park.
They were stunned by just how huge elephants are and yet how gentle they could be; our students were able to feed them peanuts while sitting on the animals legs! The group encountered many wild animals on their trip; the only creature they didn’t see was a lion but there were plenty of others. On the way to the Victoria Falls the bus had to stop and wait for a huge giraffe to get off the road; he obviously thought he had right of way and you don’t want to argue with a giraffe! The bus would pass zebras by the side of the road and they could see wild elephants in the Zambesi River near the road. The group were stunned by the beauty of the falls; David Livingstone, the explorer gave the falls the name 'Victoria Falls' in honour of Queen Victoria, but the local name is 'Mosi-oa-Tunya' — literally meaning the 'Cloud that Thunders' and our FHS students could understand why!
From Livingstone the group travelled to Mwandi, a small village where they set up camp and had a traditional meal cooked for them by the locals. The students trekked to Sooka which was an even more rural community where they had to chop trees for firewood and caught fish with local fishermen. Apart from when local communities cooked for them, the students had to sort out all their own cooking and camping arrangements. Mr Carr, Miss Matthews and World Challenge leader, Adrian Hall were always there to support and advise but really the students were responsible for all the day to day living arrangements and shared the chores between them.
There was time for fun too and a few very lively football matches took place. Our students took a load of sweets with them to distribute to local children and at one point Jake was seen racing around clutching a bag of sweet with about 50 small children in hot pursuit!
One of the toughest challenges faced by the group was a five day trek when the students walked 12 miles a day over very rough and wild terrain. They had to negotiate waterfalls; struggle though brush and follow hill trails that hadn’t been used for years. One night they camped by a beautiful waterfall and woke at 5 am to watch the sun rise from the top of the falls. Although they never saw any lions on their trek, the group had armed guards with them at all times for protection against wild animals; happily they were not needed!
Another highlight was a jeep safari when the group saw l lot of gazelle, zebras, hippos, elephants and crocodiles. They camped with hippos close; giraffes strolled though the camp and monkeys sneaked into tents to rifle through possessions!
The busiest 5 days were probably at Lake Malawi where the group began their project work at a local orphanage with the Cool Runnings Charity and their organiser, Samantha. Work included building walls for a toilet and for security; fixing fences; digging holes for construction work; clearing and cleaning and painting a wonderful mural on a wall. Mr Carr and Miss Matthews were so impressed at the attitude and work ethic of our Fazakerely students.
Mr Carr said they so worked hard and were so cheerful throughout. When they weren’t working the students particularly enjoyed spending time with the children and became very attached to them. At the end of their stay there was a final football match between Fazakerley High School and the under-10s team from the orphanage; despite what Mr Carr described as his stunning penalty, Fazakerley were well and truly thrashed 5-1! Our students’ time eventually came to an end and they returned home exhausted but exhilarated by the whole experience. Before they set off for Africa, many people believed the World Challenge trip would be a life-changing experience; for Jake, Ria, Janice, Jess, Luke, Danny, Robbie, Chelsea, Ben, Miss Matthews, Mr Hall and Mr Carr, it was exactly that.