‘If you train a girl, you train a nation!’ Our GOLD trip to Zambia

In August 2015, I was one of six young women from around the UK to embark on a trip of a lifetime to Zambia - as part of Guiding Overseas Linked with Development (GOLD). We were all different ages and from different places, but we all had one thing in common…Girlguiding!

Liz Haigh
26 Nov 2015

As 2015 is the first year of the Zambia project, we did not know what to expect

After a 10 hour bus journey from where our flight landed in Lusaka - which involving a lot of people crammed onto a bus, elephant sightings, and Clare nearly losing her seat - we finally arrived in a rural town called Mongu.

Courtesy calls

Before training the girls, we were introduced to ‘Courtesy calls’ which involved meeting influential people in the area.

We visited the Permanent Secretary of the Western Province and his District Commissioner, the Provincial Education Secretary, the Town Mayor (who was hilarious!) and the District Education Board Secretary. It was the Permanent Secretary of the Western Province who told us ‘If you train a girl, you train a nation!’.

It was amazing to hear how supportive they were of our project.

Training sessions

The aims for our project were to improve the confidence of the girls and to teach them about gender equality, sexual health, careers and advocacy. We led training sessions based on these aims and the girls were really receptive.

For advocacy, we asked the girls to write letters to important people and explain issues which mattered to them. We had many girls write to the First Lady of Zambia, their teachers and even members of the GOLD team!

The girls also told us their dream careers and we ran a ‘stepping stone’ activity where they learnt the different stages on how to achieve their aspirations. They all recognised that whatever career they wanted, they needed to stay in school.

We also taught the girls about gender equality and how this has changed over the last century. The girls reacted so well to all the training sessions and we feel they all learnt a lot. We evaluated each session at the end of the week, the majority of girls loved them all and it was incredible to see their response.

Challenges we faced

One of the main challenges we faced was the language barrier. We had to quickly learn to adapt our training sessions by simplifying them as much as possible, as many of the Zambian girls spoke little or no English. This was a struggle at first as we had not expected it, but luckily the Zambian Guide Leaders were on hand to help translate.

Lessons learned

Every single member of the GOLD team learned something valuable that first week in Mongu. Whether it be self-confidence, public speaking, working as a team or adapting to new situations, we all learnt valuable life lessons and it was an experience we will never forget.

Go on your own international guiding adventure

GOLD is just one of the ways you can go abroad with guiding. Visit our pages on international adventures to see if there’s a trip or event to suit you.