Date of release: Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Deborah Sims ZambiaLecturer Deborah Sims experienced a different type of learning environment during a spell working with an education charity in Zambia.

An engineering specialist at the University of Greenwich, Deborah spent a fortnight not only teaching but also learning how to plaster and paint classrooms, mix and lay concrete, and plant trees.

She worked as a volunteer for Baraka Community Partnerships, a charity which provides schools, teachers and learning materials for some of the most deprived children in Zambia, who would otherwise miss out on an education.

"This was an incredible opportunity to see at first hand the work that Baraka undertakes, and also give some practical help to these projects," Deborah says. "The physical work was exhausting but very important, and transforming a newly built classroom into a proper learning space was really rewarding.

"The best bits, though, were the interactions with the children, most of whom live in rural areas with limited access to water, electricity and food. They were all welcoming and were committed to their education. It was such a positive experience."

Gender-based violence is a major problem in Zambia, with many girls and young women facing huge barriers to continuing their education. Baraka supports a safe house in Maamba, Zambia, for girls who would not otherwise be able to continue their studies.

Deborah, a member of the university's Faculty of Engineering & Science, adds: "These young women are such an inspiration. They all have stories of hardship, but are now living together in a place where they can support each other and be looked after, allowing them to complete their secondary education and go on to college or university. The girls are really bright and aspire to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, journalists and teachers. With Baraka's help, these dreams are now achievable."

To find out more about the work of Baraka:

For more on studying engineering at Greenwich:

Story by Public Relations

Picture: Deborah Sims with pupils in Zambia.