MPR: A Well Earned Break
by William Hunt
An enjoyable yet tiresome seven weeks after arrival in Zambia. Six of which were spent in Kitwe analysing our respective businesses, producing deliverables based on our findings and using these to formulate recommendations, ultimately to present to our enterprises, we finally reached our ‘Mid Programme Review’. Commonly known as MPR amongst the volunteers, the Mid Programme Review is used to refocus the mind before implementing our recommendations, to share ideas, but most importantly to relax and unwind. This was much needed after living and working at such a fast pace for half of the programme.
The MPR committee, with no help at all from the Team Building Committee, organised a long weekend away at Nsobe Game Camp, home to a vast array of activities as well as a variety of animals, as the name would suggest.
Meeting Place: Mukuba Mall (where the no.1 Shoprite is located).
Time of Departure: 9am. (10am Zambian time).
Surprisingly we didn’t leave particularly late despite the overall trend of doing so for other similar activities. Perhaps this showed the eagerness of the group who admittedly all seemed very excited in anticipation. All that was left was to pick up our food/supplies and most importantly speakers whilst driving through Ndola en route.
Arriving at the game camp, we were greeted by a small herd of what I would describe as large, fluffy, grey deer. However, I’m convinced that they must have a slightly more specific name. We travelled further through the bush where we were to find a thatched lodge overlooking a picturesque reed-banked lake.
Our new home
Relaxation was underway. Deck chairs, sun, chilled drinks and music resonating from our ever important speakers were all required and gratefully received. The girls joined us for dinner along with a game of “Mr & Mrs”. Instead of marriage, a common host home decided who would pair with who. Our champions with 5/5 points were our very own team leaders, Rachel and Ethel. Congratulations yet again.
The volunteers had no ties for the weekend, able to do whatever they pleased during the day apart from swimming in the lake. The reasons for this became apparent after a 4ft giant lizard looking monster creature thing, for lack of a better Zambian term, was sighted swimming close to our back door.
On Saturday, our programme coordinators Mikey and Mapenzi joined Frankie and I on a biking safari. A relaxing ride started off fantastically. Sightings of three giraffes and a herd of zebra accompanied by a rather disorientated looking donkey made the experience an unforgettable one. It became even more unforgettable after my bike managed to obtain a flat tyre with several hours of safari track still to cover. As you may have guessed it took us slightly longer than it should’ve done!
When we returned to the lodge, fatigued and dehydrated, we could think of nothing better than relaxing in the pool. Overlooking another lake, the pool was just as pleasant as the rest of the park. Monkeys swinging in the trees overhead took a particular dislike to a Jess which lead to a brutal display of fruit tossing in her general direction.
Challenges United FC were challenged to a football match for the second day running after our hasty exit of the swimming facility. A slick, skilful passage of play consisting of several nutmegs reached its conclusion at the opposition’s goalmouth to wrap up the game 4-2, maintaining our unbeaten streak.
The talent show was now the only thing standing between us and Sunday. A fabulous K-Pop dance routine performed expertly by Jack and Joel clinched victory after surpassing other talented acts. Mikey was on course for unrivalled glory until his juggling act ended sourly, leaving an eggy mess on the floor. A cracking performance nevertheless.
The following day, Jack, Joel, Franky and I decided to try our luck at fishing. Handcrafted bamboo rods coupled with a lack of fishing knowledge made our chances look fairly bleak. Optimistic, however, we cast our lines into the shallow water. Plenty of bites came and went and after half an hour of trying to come to terms with the fact that we were terrible fishermen, our first fish took the bait. The fish was clearly a trendsetter as another seventeen of its friends were soon to follow it onshore to meet their oily, frying pan themed demise. Tasted good, though.
A quick visit to the ‘Snake Pit’ after fishing resulted in some of the more fearless volunteers getting to grips with a huge python, only after being reminded it could dislocate its jaw to swallow us whole. A horrifying thought to have, especially when that said serpent is currently residing on the back of your neck.
Before our time at Nsobe Camp came to an end, and after a delicious BBQ, an award ceremony was to take place. The prizes, ranging from a stick to a pack of biscuits were honourably received with grace, modesty and dignity which capped off an unbelievable weekend.
The team returned refreshed and keen to implement their recommendations.
Thanks to the MPR committee for making it all possible, especially Mapenzi who I hope is not too offended by his award!