We caught an early flight to Livingstone, Zambia. When we touched down in Livingstone, we took a short journey to see the GRS SKILLZ Plus programme showcase. This has probably been the highlight of the trip so far as we were actually involved in the workshop educating young people who are HIV positive. This interactive and evidence-supported curriculum consists of 12 practices that address different aspects of living that these young people may face. Through participation in the SKILLZ Plus intervention, youth are provided with the knowledge, skills, and encouragement to live happy and healthy lives and become leaders within their communities.
We then met David Kapata who runs the programme, as someone that went through the SKILLZ Plus program himself who then went on to become coordinator of the programme here in Zambia. David took us through a typical practice that he runs on a daily basis. The session was really inspiring and had a great energy about it. The showcase talked about the how they work to build a mutual trust with the participant, in order to support and educate them to live a normal life, despite their illness. I also had a chance to speak with Benjamin, 18, who is a graduate of the skillz plus programme and now works for GRS as a skillz plus coach. As someone who lives with the illness, it was interesting to hear his experiences, the reaction of his family and friends and how he became a positive role model in his community.
After a really inspiring morning, we went on to have lunch with the SKILLZ Plus coaches at a local restaurant. The topic of conversation during the bus journey was entirely about the programme we had witnessed this morning and how inspiring and brave all the participants are. It has truly been an eye opener for me to meet everyone at the SKILLZ programs, as they are such strong willed people who are determined to play sport despite their illness.
The day was capped off by visiting Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The width, in conjunction with the height, of Victoria Falls forms the largest sheet of falling water in the world. The spray from the falls often rises more than 1,300 feet. The spray can be seen from miles away as the waterfall separates Zimbabwe and Zambia. It is hard to describe the experience as any words don’t really seem to do it justice! It is just incredible! On arrival we were given poncho’s and these turned out to be essential as we made our way around the route. The sheer amount of water gushing down stream and over the edge was phenomenal. As we passed over the footbridge directly in front of the ledge in which the water drops, we got soaked head to toe.
We learned about geographic changes to the falls in the past, as well as some forthcoming. Each time an island or piece of land falls down with the force of the falls, it changes the landscape and flow patterns of the water. It can take many lifetimes for this to occur, but as our guide described the developments, it was easy to look out at the falls and clearly see what he was describing.
After getting sufficiently soaked from the spray of the falls, we turned to head back and on our way out we came across a large troop of wild monkeys further along our walk we then came across a herd of Zebra’s! The whole day was just fantastic and is definitely one of the best days and experiences I will ever have.
To sum up it – inspirational!