Taieri College pupils (from left) Sam Kirk and Christine
Cleave are led through the Okavango Delta in northeastern
Botswana by World Challenge expedition leader Glenn Dakers
and a local tribesman.Photo supplied.
Dealing with temperatures reaching 45degC, snakes and
scorpions in your bedding, and going to the toilet behind a
bush in the desert while watching for stalking lions was
definitely living on the wild side.
But for the 16 Taieri College pupils on a recent World
Challenge expedition to Botswana and Namibia, the most
sobering experience was seeing children with little more than
the clothes on their backs.
Christine Cleave (15) said visiting the Salmon Boois Junior
Primary School in Aranos, Namibia was "a real eye-opener".
"They have so little, but they don't know any different and
they're happy with the lives they have. It was sad."
She said it provided inspiration for the main purpose of
their trip: to paint four hostel buildings at the school and
replace more than 40 broken windows. The pupils also gave
each classroom a stationery pack and left 16 sports balls and
a set of netball bibs.
The time spent playing with the children and making a small
difference to their lives was the trip highlight, she said.
The month-long expedition aimed to teach the Taieri pupils
life skills and expand their minds outside the classroom.
They spent four days in the Kalahari Desert learning the
skills of the bushmen, before spending another four days
trekking from village to village, being hosted by families
who provided traditional food (mostly maize and beef curry),
and sleeping in traditional huts.
Sam Kirk (15) said life was much more "cautious" there.
"We had to put iodine in our water to make sure it was clean.
"We had to keep everything nice and closed so that bugs like
scorpions couldn't get [in].
"And going to the toilet in the desert - all we got was a
roll of toilet paper and we had to dig a hole to do it in.
"We had to take someone with us to make sure there were no
dangerous animals about."
The trip included a visit to the Okavango Delta in
northeastern Botswana, where they were taken in mokoros
(dugout canoes) to see zebras, giraffes, elephants, hippos
and many species of birds.
Kate Piper (16) said they spent the night on the Delta
listening to lions roaring, hippos growling, and a herd of
elephants walking past their campsite.
They also spent a day on safari at Etosha National Park,
where there were more wild animals, including lions and their
cubs, vultures, and rhinoceroses.
"It was cool. You don't get a feel for how big a lion is
until you see one in real life."
Christine said experiencing the cultures of Botswana and
Namibia, and seeing how other people live, was both humbling
and a major adventure.
"The amount of rubbish on the streets - it was everywhere.
And there were heaps of goats and cattle wandering the
"It wasn't anything like walking up George St in Dunedin."