Novicell and Eventure – Zambia 2019
As you may or may not know, recently six of our colleagues from England, Spain and Denmark embarked on a journey to Zambia to work with a school set up by a foundation Novicell supports.
Why did we go to Zambia?
Novicell helps to fund a foundation that looks to provide education and opportunities to young people in developing areas.
What organisation did we work with?
Eventure and Northern Star Academy.
Who did we work with at the school?
The volunteer teachers and organisers from Denmark, the local staff who form the Development Team, and the students. The students range from 17 to 22 years old and are mostly from villages in the local area, though some students will travel up to nine hours to get back to their village when they go home.
What were the objectives of the trip?
To set up a marketing course for the students of the school, as well as an intense course for people who have just graduated high school and are looking to carry on with their education. To create a ‘Marketing Station’ where they are able to complete the course.
The higher level objective, though, was to give students the knowledge to earn a living from their marketing abilities. Not only that, but Glenn from Eventure sees this as an opportunity for the whole region to develop and benefit from this work.
Where can you see highlights from our time in Zambia?
At the end of this post is a link to the Novicell Instagram stories and video that shows some of the many highlights from the trip.
What we got up to in Zambia
Our visit to Zambia was pretty intense, with roughly three-and-a-half days of travelling by taxi, four-by-four, boat and many planes, however the experience was, without a doubt, worth every second crammed into a back seat with someone’s rucksack on top of us.
We set off Friday morning from our respective cities and met up in Istanbul with Glenn (the Eventure organisation leader) and made our way to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. A few hours of sleep there, a small tour and then back to the airport to fly to Mbeya, followed by a taxi to the Zambian border… I’m not saying it was a long trip, but the border guard actually told me I looked a mess… three times (I felt like the last two were probably unnecessary).
After driving into Zambia for many hours we spent the night by a small reservoir before heading to Mpulungu, the closest town to the school. There is now a new road from there to the village next to the school where it abruptly ends. This lead to what will probably remain a true highlight for the rest of my life.
In the Landcruiser, we set out driving through the village… but not how you might envisage, following a road… more picking our way between huts and going over what would probably be considered a few front gardens in Europe! Rather than be confused by this four-by-four bursting into the village life, the locals, who all recognised Glenn, came out to welcome us and follow us as we forged a new path through their homes.
I had, until that point, never experienced such a friendly welcome by strangers. Repeated questions of ‘What is your name?’ and ‘How old are you?’ followed us, echoed by the village children with their positive curiosity and infectious smiles. As a welcome to the area where the school is based, it couldn’t have been better.
On Monday morning, we introduced ourselves to the staff and pupils, spent some time with each of the volunteers to find out what had brought them to Zambia and what they were getting from the experience. The pupils, who are aged between 17 and 22, then performed a play of two families which portrayed the two options available to them in their village.
The first family featured people of their age drinking, smoking and accepting that there weren’t really any opportunities for them both now or in the future. The second family featured people who wanted to take advantage of the opportunity they were offered by the school to keep learning and accepting that they weren’t so old yet. It was a touching performance which made me realise the importance of the pupils own responsibility in accepting the challenge and opportunity of the school and choosing to embrace that challenge.
Over the next two days, we ran classes with the students where we discussed the general principles of marketing while trying to apply them to the local environment. There are many challenges in taking what are seen as standard marketing approaches in Europe to a developing region, however using examples such as ‘Leandro’s Pizzeria’ we were able to have a conversation with the class and get the ideas flowing.
The volunteers had previously introduced the pupils to some of the marketing principles and the enthusiasm with which the class applied them to the pizzeria was impressive. Whatever challenges there may be in implementing a marketing course within the school, a desire to learn was not one of them.
After the classes and quite a few meetings, we started to put together the foundations for the course. IT skills are fairly basic for many of the pupils who don’t have easy access to computers, so the course needed to touch on some more rudimentary IT areas as well as photo and video editing.
The course is still being defined, however the plan is to have the students use the marketing station computers while learning the principles of marketing, allowing them to become much more comfortable on computers as well as practising what they are learning. The ‘Marketing Station’ will give them access to the resources they need to do this.
As well as the classes, we also spent time with the students in their weekly activities. This included a choir night where we tried to contribute towards ‘With a little help from my friends’ (luckily the video and audio from this is not available to the general public!) and a football match in which only one of the Novicell team really came out unscathed. We visited another neighbouring village for sunrise and got to see a little of what daily life there involves.
We also spent Zambia’s Independence day Kayaking to a local village where one of the pupils is from, where the children all came out to greet us. Again the ‘What is your name?’ and ‘How old are you?’ questions ensued, along with the incredible welcome and friendliness that we had received earlier in the week.
For me, this was without a doubt a major highlight of the trip. It is truly inspirational to see the positivity they have and I really hope that the work the school is doing, with Novicell’s support, will open up many more opportunities for both the individuals and the community.
It's hard to summarise such an intense trip, and even harder to understand all of the challenges faced by the Zambian people who live around the school, however it was an incredible experience and I am grateful to Eventure and Novicell for the opportunity to participate in this project.
I have no doubt that, in the future, there will be much more we can do – and if you are interested in being part of that, please don’t hesitate to contact us. There are so many things that can be contributed.
If you would like to see some snapshots of what we did, check out the Novicell Zambia Instagram stories here.