The skiffs pull up on the banks of the river and the children from the village run down to greet us. We are greeted by the village elder and invited to follow for a tour. We see wooden posts on the trees, inscribed with their common and scientific names. We are told that the village school is encouraging children to learn about their surroundings and to learnt to appreciate nature.
A young couple invites us into their home. It is a very basic structure, made of wood. There is an open living room and one small bedroom where they sleep on the floor, under a mosquito net. Both are still in their teens and already have one child and another one on the way. They have a small kitchen area outside, where they can cook food on a fire and an area to hang their washing out.
We thank the couple for showing us around their home and make our way towards the village school. A young boy accompanies us. He speaks English very well and he says that he wants to be naturalist guide when he is older. We are told that he is the ‘top boy’ at the village school.
When we arrive at the school we are shown into the one large, circular shaped classroom and the children sing a song for us. We each introduce ourselves and they do the same. We have brought clothes, books, pens and pencils for them and we begin to hand them out. Straight away the children put their new t-shirts on, on top of their clothes. Most of the t-shirts are far too big for them, but they are beaming as they show us which one they each got.
The villagers have prepared a traditional dance for us and they invite members of our group to join them and learn the moves. We spend a while enjoying the music before returning to the shore. On our way back we see that the villagers have set up a small market, selling hand-crafted jewellery and souvenirs that are made from their natural surroundings. We buy a few things to take home with us and thank the village elder for her time. It has been a truly humbling experience.