Carrie Pavlik

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Description of Service


Ms. Pavlik arrived in Zambia in January 2007. After two months of training, she served for two years as a Rural Education Development (RED) volunteer in Mpelembe, Serenje District, Central Province. The RED project is a countrywide collaboration between Peace Corps and Zambia’s Ministry of Education and aims to improve Zambia’s educational system. Each RED volunteer is based at a Zone Center School, which is a school chosen to be a central point for schools in a particular area. It is the goal of the RED project to increase the capacity of this school so that all of the schools in the zone may benefit, particularly the “community schools,” which are headed by untrained community members and usually based in simple mud and thatch structures.

The first two months of Carrie’s time in Zambia was spent integrating into Zambian culture by living with a Zambian host family and receiving formal training in areas that would prepare her for her service. Training consisted of five components: Technical (86 hours): Ministry of Education structure and initiatives, facilitation skills, Interactive Radio Technology methodology, income generating activities, project implementation; Cross Cultural (14 hours): Zambian culture, cross-cultural communication, gender issues; Icibemba Language (116 hours); HIV/AIDS (20 hours); Medical and Safety (32 hours). During her service, she attended additional workshops, including an in-service training held by Peace Corps, an HIV workshop held by PEPFAR, and a library management training held by Changes2.


Mpelembe is a small rural village within Chief Chitambo’s chiefdom. The population consists of about 4000 people and the village covers an area of about 20 square kilometers. There is a school, clinic, ZAWA station, and many tuck shops, bars, and churches.

Mpelembe is about 140 kilometers from the boma of Serenje. There is no electricity or cell phone coverage, which made communication with Peace Corps and the Ministry of Education difficult. Ms. Pavlik’s main form of transportation was her bicycle. When traveling longer distances, she hitchhiked, chancing rides from trucks, busses, and private vehicles.

The villagers of Mpelembe live simply in mud and thatch huts without electricity, vehicles, phone coverage, or running water. Ms. Pavlik lived in the same manner, embracing the lifestyle by learning gardening, the cooking traditional foods, chicken and goat husbandry, beekeeping, and the building small structures of bamboo, grass, mud, and bark fiber.

Her house was located about four kilometers from the tarmac and a half kilometer away from the school and clinic. She lived next to the Mumba family and also received support from the headman, Mr. Mwelelwa.

Physical Environment

Mpelembe is located about forty kilometers after Kasanka National Park and about forty kilometers before the bridge to Luapula. It is flat with a lot of small trees and is considered part of the Bangweulu Wetlands, and though it receives a lot of rainfall, it is not a swampy area. Flooding only becomes an issue in the areas surrounding the nearby Lumbwa River.

The main path that leads from the tarmac past the school and clinic is vehicle accessible. Most housing compounds are reached by footpaths branching off this main road.

Access to drinking water isn’t much of a problem in the area. There are many wells and bore holes. Ms. Pavlik had two sources of water. One was a traditional well located on her compound. The water was not clean, however, so she used this water only for washing and watering her garden. She got her drinking water from a bore hole at the school and carried it home on her bicycle.

The environment didn’t pose any obstacles to education beyond those found in the rest of Zambia (e.g. rainy season, dirt paths, long distances for students to walk, etc). Mpelembe Zone covers a large area, however, the furthest schools being about 30 kilometers from the Zonal Center School. This made it difficult for the ZIC to monitor all of the schools in the zone.

Cultural Environment

The people of Mpelembe are of the Bemba and Lala tribes. Some people can speak a little bit of English, but most are not fluent.

Nearly all villagers are subsistence farmers and fishermen. Some earn income by selling crops or fish or by doing piece work.

Most people are of Christian faith and are very devout. There are a variety of denominations represented in Mpelembe.

Social life tends to revolve around the churches and bars. People often gather at the roadside in the evenings.

Description of Zone

Carrie’s cacthment area consisted of Mpelembe Zone, as defined by the Ministry of Education. There are 5 GRZ and 16 community schools in the zone, the farthest being about 30 kilometers from the Zonal Center School.

During her two years as a RED volunteer, Carrie focused on strengthening the Zonal Center School so that all of the schools in the zone would benefit. That means she worked extensively with Mpelembe Basic School, but also worked with teachers from all of the schools in the zone through teacher trainings and school monitoring. She also assisted Chenga, Fumba, and Mupundu Community Schools in grant writing and held a fish farming training at Fumba.

Most of the community schools and government schools are using Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) as part of their methodology. For some community schools, this is the main form of instruction.

The schools in Mpelembe Zone are as follows:

GRZ Schools

Chalilo Chipundu Gibson Misumba Mpelembe