African Village School, Ekudzeni, Swaziland, South Africa

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A Personal background to the African Village School Project - YOU CAN make a difference

 Our family consists of dad Robert, mum Lynn and children Daniel, Chloe and Callum. Back in 2000 Rob picked up a flyer, in a local swimming baths, saying Channel 4 were looking for a family to live in an African village for 3 months. Lynn had very recently been moaning about how boring life was so, when challenged by Rob to apply, jumped at the chance! To cut a long process short we were chosen to take part and in January 2001 found ourselves living on the Shongwe homestead (village) in rural Swaziland.

At the time Callum was 4, Chloe 8 and Daniel 13 years old. We became part of the Shongwe extended family and the idea was ( loosely speaking) to see how a family from South London adapted to living in a remote village where, to get anywhere, involved walking for miles up and down mountains in 30+ degrees of heat. Home was a round hut with no electricity or running water and a toilet that was just a hole (all be it a deep one!!!) in the ground.
 This one toilet served the whole village and in the African heat this open, festering toilet truely ressembled the gateway to Hell!!! Meals were cooked outside on open fires and baths taken in the river.

On top of the basic lack of luxeries Lynn also had to learn to live as a Swazi wife - waiting on the men hand and foot - something she found quite hard to say the least! Meanwhile Rob had to find a job ( no mean feat in a country with 75% unemployment), Daniel had to walk miles to school where daily beatings were the norm for minor misdemeanours, Chloe was ill for a month and Callum was banned from going to the toilet by himself for fear he'd fall in!

Sounds awful doesn't it - to be honest Lynn spent the first 5 weeks wishing she could go home she missed her family, her friends, wearing shorts in the boiling sun (a strict dress code for the women meant covering up at all times) , hot water, a kitchen - the list went on and on! After all the shocks, however, we began to settle in and it started to become what it remains today - the most amazing, life changing experience that has bought us a loving, close extended family who have become a huge part of our everyday lives. On our return we couldn't change the world but we could make a difference to this tiny, isolated, poverty stricken community who welcomed us with open arms and shared the little they had so willingly. It began with an idea and a tractor..............please explore our website to find out what happened next...........

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