Sunday, May 30, 2010
We sat transfixed, once again, listening to the wonderful sounds of African life.
We had to take our leave and so, headed directly to Victoria Falls upon reaching Livingstone; they being only a couple of km’s out of town. As soon as we parked, we noticed an abundance of baboons around and were told to keep everything close, as the varmints were tricky and would swipe things out of your hands, or through openings in car windows. I was startled by one, that popped out of a garbage receptacle as I passed! We paid our fees and entered the park with the roar of the falls deafening us. We passed a queue renting rain capes and I considered renting one, but then thought, ‘how wet can it be?’
After a stop at the first look-out, we headed down a set of stairs, each stair taking us lower and into a fine mist from the falls. Patricia & Brea went ahead for a few minutes, then came running back, soaked to the skin.
“Ah well” thought I, ever the pessimist, “I’ll just tuck my camera under my shirt, and step around the worst of it”. Two minutes later, I realized what a foolish thought that was; there was no stepping around the mist, the lower we went the harder it came down! As we made our way to the Knife edge bridge that spanned the chiasm between our side of the falls and Livingstone island, I was soaked, finding myself almost blinded by the force of the spray. We all began to fear for the items in our backpack’s, (mine in particular was my passport) but as there was nothing for it now, we continued onto the island to the special vantage point where visitors have the finest view of the Eastern Cataract and the Main Falls as well as the Boiling Pot where the river turns and heads down the Batoka Gorge, where we were able to view some crazed souls bungee jumping off the 111m high Victoria Falls Bridge that joins Zamia with Zimbabwe. Once on, there were a few areas that were drier and even some where no mist reached, ah, blessed sun beating down to dry me out a wee bit. Just as I was starting to warm and feel like I was not walking in wet diapers, it was decided that we should head back. Crossing the Knife edge bridge this time was even more harrowing, as the breeze had picked up and between slipping on the algae clinging to the walkway, and the even stronger force of the blinding spray, I clung to Utant for dear life, fearing I was going to go over the side. As we reached the main lookout our worst fears about the contents of our backpacks looked like they might be coming true. Colin lent over and water poured out. Christy was beside herself with worry, as their expensive camera and computer were within. Much to our relief, most articles were fine, although I still have a small spot of Zambezi water dried within my LED screen, and most everyone’s passports were water logged to some degree. Infact as we left Zambia the following week, the passport officer took one look and commented ‘ Visiting the Falls were you?‘ After everyone checked their backpacks at the main lookout and the required ‘group shot’ with the spectacular Falls in the background, we headed back towards the parking area.
At one point we noticed a large group of very excited people, surrounding an older gentleman, taking pictures with him and shaking hands. Eustance spotted who it was an became excited himself; as it was the first president after colonization, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, who had been visiting Livingstone to work with his AIDS organization and was taking a supposed break for the day. Eustance and Maria managed to have their pictures taken with him and there is one of myself, shaking hands as I passed. This was a very great honour to anyone in Zambia, let alone to foreigners, such as ourselves. One of the last things Eustance mentioned as we left Zambia later the next week, was to make sure he received a copy of the picture of himself with the president.
Did you know:
The Victoria Falls are just over 1 mile wide (1.7 km) and 355 feet (108 m) high. During the wet season over 500 million liters (19 million cubic feet) of water plummets over the edge into the Zambezi River. This incredible amount of water generates a huge amount of spray which shoots 1000 feet into the sky and can be seen 30 miles away, hence the name Mosi-oa-Tunya (Smoke that thunders).
After leaving the park Charmaine and I made a quick dash to the truck and did a quick change of our pants, so we at least felt somewhat more comfortable. We went across the street to the Mukuni Victoria Falls Craft Village. The vendors can be really pushy however, yelling for your attention from all sides, which after a short time, and a few purchases, was too overwhelming for me. The first purchase I made, was I’m sure the best of the vendors day, my not enjoying bartering, so I think they made out like bandits. The rest of my purchases I made sure to have Utant, Eustance, Helen or Lydia with me to wage the battles and was able to get much better deals. We had a quick lunch at the pizza joint and Subway at the Falls Park Shopping Centre, and stocked up on food stuffs at Spar, for the following week. Needing some extra Kawacha I decided to try the bank machine up the mall, much to my chagrin. It all seemed to be going well, my card popped out, but no money or receipt. Put me in a bit of a tizzy, I can tell you, especially as I was unable to reach MasterCard to report it, with the hotel not being able to call outside of Zambia, and both Maria and Utant’s phones failing. I managed to Skype Tom with the info and asked him to report it for me. Then were off to another street of craft vendors, who were as pushy and loud as the bunch at the Falls. Without our great Zambian friends along, we would never have got the deals we did. Next we were off to the Crossroads Lodge for the evening. Most of us rushed around trying desperately to get internet connections, and for most of us it was working, but so slow it was hard to get anything done. I felt I spent more time waiting for things to work properly, than I managed to upload. It was a frustrating evening, in what we had hoped would be an easy time of getting blogs updated and being able to get a hold of friends and family. I found that when I had put Shaw web mail on Ang’s laptop it hadn’t downloaded any of my email addresses which was also very frustrating, but we all got done what we could. It was a great night in other regards, with clean big rooms, hot water and great showers The Sunday morning was a rush, as ¼ of the crew went on Safari, another few slept in and I went on my ‘wild side’. There was another quick stop at the street craft market, for those last, “I wish I had bought that” items, then we were off back to Kalomo.
Also - be patient. If you are anything like me and wait with probably almost as much anticipation as the children, to receive your news back from them, be patient. If there is something I have learned this past week, it’s how difficult it is to get to and from some of the spots where these children live. Gathering and delivering letters and parcels over these expanded areas is beyond belief in some cases. We had a hard time visiting with just 6 families in one day in the Munkolo district, and there are hundreds of such families in hundreds of such areas and villages and countries that will be visited by World Vision ADP staff members, and I can tell you from experience, they are working long hard hours to get the job done. The wait is worth it though, as I can attest, just having received 2 letters, along with pictures and an annual report card, within the last 3 days.
Breakfast is ordered to be ready at 7 and having it served in dribs and drabs and finally sitting to eat at around 8; this is after all still Africa and it looks like all countries in Africa run on “Africa time”. If you were to take a good look around, you would notice that maybe 1 out of 50 might wear a watch. Calmness, relaxation and a sense of Hankuna Matata are the norm, things we now lack in our hectic schedules, with phoning, and texting constantly. Although cell phones are a lifeline to most here, you‘d be in big trouble broken down in the wilderness without a way to call for help. I noticed when I returned after my trip last year, that things didn’t seem nearly as important, the rush to get here or there or get things done on time was not of major importance anymore. Of course I didn’t lose the need to be on time for most things, but a minute or two late was not going to send me into major stress attack. Perhaps this year will also add to my more easy going feeling. But I think perhaps I may just need to go back every year, just to top up the tank, so to speak! Please pass on to WV that Donna now needs a yearly trip to Africa to keep her mellow.
On our itinerary for this day, things looked pretty relaxed. It would be a change from the hectic schedule and perhaps save a few cramps and sores from the bouncing around in the back of the vehicle. If you have ever had to try and get in and out of a Land Cruiser, with it’s high step, low overhead, while trying to perform this feat in a skirt and in a lady like manner, well, you get the picture. There were of course the very (un) comfortable bench seats on either side, where we usually had to pack bags of gifts and numerous ADP staff usually ending with 5 or 6 per side. We were to have home visits in the morning, break for lunch at Trekkers and then resume home visits in the afternoon, broken into 2 groups. The day tends to remain a blur as it turned out to be our longest day, thus far, but with the help of my photo’s and the remembrance of the other team members, I think the essence has been recorded.
Our first visit was to visit Dumisani, one of Colin & Christy‘s sponsored children. He, his mother Cecile and a visiting nephew were sitting in the shade at the side of their hut, sharing a morning snack of avocado and potato. Home visits are always such a delight, watching these shy little ones become more animated as they get to know you and to learn from the parents about their lives, hopes and dreams. Our next visit was with another of Colin & Christy’s children, Naomi. Christy’s was so distraught, yet, comical as we left and she discovered that she had inadvertently picked up one of Naomi’s gift bags. She was urging Utant to head back, when Kingstone said to just stop and he would run it back to them, which he did, finding that the family had noticed it missing as well, and was coming the other way to try and catch up with us.
photo by Colin & Christy Zacharias
The next visit was to Jane the sponsor child of my friends Claudia & Mo. When we drove in, it was clear that the visit was much anticipated – every inch of their property had been swept with a grass broom. Jane was shy and unsure about this strange white person who had come to visit. I’m sure Claudia and Moe will receive wonderful letters though, telling of the experience. It was at the end of the visit that I was gifted with Henry, the rooster. Well, poor Kingstone was really having a day, because within few minutes, this shocked bird had pooped in the jeep and he seemed to be the only one willing to clean it up. The poor bird had his legs tied together and after another visit had managed to hop up on one of the seats, leaving behind more reminders of his fright. At one point his wing was shut in the door, with much squawking and human screaming, but thankfully he seemed no worse for wear. The WV staff accompanying us, seemed very perplexed by the Canadians concern for this animal that they were sure needed to become dinner one evening.
On to the next family, the sponsored child of Charmaine, Irene. This was another wonderful family group, who had cleaned their yard to perfection for our visit, and laid out mats (maize bags) to sit on. As Charmaine started her visit with Irene, Christy discovered her precarious younger brother, Joe and instantly fell in love, cuddling and playing with him throughout. Like children everywhere, some are shy and some are outgoing with Joe firmly falling into the later category. The father of this family was very wise and spoke with great understanding of the work that WV was doing to help his community. He had tears in his eyes as he spoke to us, and told us how appreciative he was to World Vision.
It was now nearing 1 o’clock so it was off for lunch at Trekkers, with a quick stop at the local ADP office in Zimba to drop of that poor harried bird, Henry. This had been another morning of back roads with much jouncing and bouncing, I was already feeling tired and sore and almost ready to join Henry for the afternoon at the office! Lunch was yet another experience in culture shock for me. As my kids have grown, one of their favourite questions upon arriving home from school is, “What’s for dinner?”. My usual retort has been, “fish head soup!” (Fish heads, fish heads, rolly polly fish heads, fish heads, fish heads, eat them up yum!) a matter of grossing them out I thought. Well, there before me, being served up and much enjoyed, were fried fish heads! As I tried not to look completely revolted, the WV staff sat picking out pieces and popping them into their mouths. I just had to sneak a picture of a plate, so I could show that “Yes Angela, people really do eat fish heads!” and it is probably considered a delicacy.
Now it was time to be off for 2 more visits, both being beyond the hospital we visited on our first days. The day was full of insane roads, but this stretch, beyond the hospital, was particularly treacherous. As we neared a portion of the school, near the hospital, we heard angels singing in the African wilderness -
As Christy said, “Anyone who stays on the paved roads in Africa misses it’s heart.” We finally arrived to visit Kathy’s sponsored child, Christerbelle. The wait having been to long, I suppose for a child, she had wandered off to the garden with her mother until our arrival. Her little brother took off running to find her, and within a few minutes, along the grass path came this enchanting little girl. When she spotted Kathy, she ran into her arms like Kathy was the most important person in the world, come to visit. The look of wonder and love that filled Kathy’s face will be remembered by all of us for years to come.
photo by Colin & Christy Zacharias
As we left, the sun was slipping below the horizon and I for one, felt our day had been truly blessed with so many inspiring sights, sounds and words of wisdom.
photo by Colin & Christy Zacharias
The final fun of the day was our trying to find ways to kill time on the way back through the rough roads. We asked the ADP staff with us to sing the Zambian national anthem which they obliged, singing it in both English and Tonga, then it was our turn with the Canadian anthem. There was much laughter and it really helped to bond our groups and make the time pass. When the lights of Zimba where finally spotted in the darkening sky, we knew we had made it out of the wilderness and would soon be home.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Everyday there could be so many titles for that days blog, so much happens, so much is learned, so many experiences shared, that it’s quite hard to come up with just one.
It’s always frustrating on these trips because there are so many pictures you want to take as you pass by, with never the chance to stop and take them, as your not the one driving, there’s never time, or by the time you scream STOP, Utant and or Eustance are already well passed the desired photo op. I only went off on the tangent there, to say we passed, in the middle or nowhere, this little group of buildings, that were actually the village shopping area. Luckily we were able to walk back to it after our visit and get pictures. I think you’ll appreciate why it caught my eye. You may not be able to tell, but the first building is the Financial Centre. Below is a shot of two young men running one of the shops.
Eunace lives and works at the hospital by herself, which must be a hard and lonely existence. She explained she sees between 700 - 800 patients a month on average with the focus on preventive medicine. Mostly the patients she sees have complaints ranging from malaria, diarrhea, scabies, eye infections (we saw one little fellow with a most horrid looking eye problem), infections to pregnant moms. She told us that before the hospital was built the locals had to walk the 15 or so km’s to Zimba (the drive took us about 20 minutes, figure out the walking time) to attend a clinic, along the track we just came over. Mom’s in labour would have to be taken by bicycle or ox cart and a lot of deaths to moms and babies occurred. Since the hospitals opening they have had no casualties, although most moms never even make to the hospital, they are still delivering in the village by a local midwife. Even still the pre and post care is a necessity in prevention. Here is a picture of the medical supply room.
There is even an ambulance stationed in Zimba, which comes to get emergency patients, if Helen calls, but imagine how that would be, to travel back to Zimba, even in an ambulance (not by ox-cart) if you were injured, over the rough terrain. There are not many HIV/AIDS patients in the local area, which was a boon to hear. She has 1 exam room, where she also assess patients for orthopedic and plastic surgery, in the event wonderful people, like Doctors Without Borders will arrive and perform the surgeries, in the nearest equipped hospital. A local Doctor attends the hospital only once every 6 months. She has some medicines in stock, provided by the government, Eunace provides this care with the most basic of equipment, which is rustic and limited, equipment that our culture would have on display in a museum. Her wish is to have more rooms, beds and especially more help. Easier access to medicine would also be a bonus, as at present there is no kerosene for the fridge (plus it is not working at present) and any medicines that need to be refrigerated have to be kept in Zimba, which necessitates walking there to pick them up.
photo by Colin & Christy Zacharias
And yet a gracious local lady named Mary, came to tell us how much the hospital has made life easier for thee locals and how thankful they were to World Vision for providing the facility. Mary said that they now received proper medicines for their ailments, and their health is better than when they would visit the local traditional healers. Before if they wanted to visit a clinic they had to walk to Zimba, but now they have access to the hospital and are benefiting.
Crispin has a small office in one of the side buildings, of which he is very proud. He has made charts of everything that is done by WV in the area, with numbers and statistics, pictures of every child that has received a goat, calf or special gift from their sponsor. A very organized man who you can tell cares deeply about the community he works in. He told us that he volunteered for years and years with World Vision, never getting paid, until he could make them see that they needed someone like him to run a project and eventually was hired. Persistence and determination, seems to be a trait for all the people we meet.
I had noticed many children about, during our visit and discovered that just past the long grass and brush, there was a local school. This really was the centre of a rural African village. The Zambian people are resilient and hard working, making the most of what little they have and thankful for that!
We spent longer than anticipated with the visit, but still took the time to walk back to the village shopping area to photograph the buildings and feel the real experience of life here in the rural outback of Zambia.
The next part of our day was a much anticipated group visit with some of the sponsor children and a quick lunch at Treckers, in Zimba. It was decided that as we were running behind we would all met at the resturant for lunch and then head back to the Munkolo ADP office for our visits. This lunch would give the children a chance to assess us and maybe feel a little more secure during the visit, as they had time to watch us and get over the shock of seeing these very white faces from Canada. I happened to be in the hallway when they started to arrive, with parents or a parent and some siblings in tow. I was warmly greeted, and it seemed with much excitement, by all the adults with a handshake and greeting of Muli Butti, the children were curious, but shy as they passed. We were all served a very delicious buffet lunch with the ever present at every meal, ½ a fried chicken and nshima as the main course. photo by Colin & Christy Zacharias
Nshima is the main staple of life here, served with every meal, a cooked paste like substance of mealie meal, which tastes rather like a fine ground rice paste, not at all unpleasant, but not something I personally would want to eat everyday. It is eaten by rolling it into a ball, in one hand, then dipping it into sauce (they call soup), and popped into the mouth. Every meal also seems to consist of either a stew type beef cooked in different ways, ½ fried chicken, or whole fried fish (head, tail fins still attached) along with either the rice or nshima and a vegetable. Today we were offered 2, one was like a lightly cooked coleslaw mix, the other was their local vegetable rape which is much like spinach. They steam it down, add a little oil, salt and ground peanuts, it was really delicious! They do know how to cook veggies here, always crisp and tasty, but I admit I am getting very tired of rice & veggies for every meal. The menus everywhere seem to be almost identical and have variations of the same basic items. I’m actually finishing writing this on the following Tuesday and have to say, it’s getting to the point I really never want to see another clump of rice, but for the children and families that joined us, it was probably the best meal they had experienced in many a long month. I noticed the children’s plates were piled high, probably more than most men back home could eat in one sitting!
With lunch out of the way we went a short distance to the community hall, where Kingston has his office for the Munkolo area. Our names were called out, then the sponsor child’s name was called and they were told to join us. I think some of the poor tykes thought we were here to swoop them away from their parents. The various groups retired to the outside and proceeded to get to know the children. Not all of the children we met have sponsors yet. I was given the joy of meeting Juston, the little boy who I thought I had found a sponsor for, but the person decided against it. I’m not sure he understood that I wasn’t his sponsor, so I didn’t go into any explanations, I will just work extra hard to find a sponsor for this very special little guy. He was sooo cute and shy. He is 8 years old, in Grade 2 and his favorite subject is Math. He has 2 brothers Joseph age 3 and Patson age 6 mths. I was told he had none, there has been a lot of confusion in that regard, as the families here are so community orientated they will take in orphan children of the village and from then on that child is considered a member of the family. Utant told me that it is considered very rude to call someone a ‘step-child’. They are either of your family, or not. Sorry, off on a little ramble there. Juston’s father Joseph, is a peasant farmer, which means that he only produces enough food for the family, there is nothing left to sell. His mother is Helen and a lovely hard working lady. The family has received 5 female goats but is in need of a ‘billy’ so the herd can reproduce and enlarge. Juston was enthralled with the small gifts I gave and Helen and baby were thrilled with their small tokens as well. His picture in the folder from World Vision just doesn’t do him justice. He is so cute, I just wanted to cuddle with him, but instead we played with the soccer ball I brought for him, kicking and bouncing it around on the small lawn. Over the last few days we have learned that when you want the children to smile for a picture you say ‘saka, saka’, meaning smile. It puts them into fits of giggles, which seem to come easy to children and adults alike. I asked his mother what the family hoped to gain by having their child sponsored and her wish was to be able to supply Juston with a school uniform and shoes. It was very hard to say good-bye.
Zambians are such a friendly and gracious people. The walk from the Guest House to the ADP office takes about 10 minutes down a dirt road and the short cut is through a small local market. As you walk along, everyone, and I mean everyone, young, old and in between say hello, good afternoon/morning/night, how are you. It reminds me so much of when I was a child and when you walked somewhere, people actually talked to each other and said hello. We as Canadians have a lost a lot of our humanity over time. The world may consider us a friendly nation, but we can learn a lot from people in the 3rd world countries that really do care about each other and not just pay lip service to the idea of it. There are perhaps a dozen stores in the market, each one not more than a couple of hundred square feet. We’ve gone in a couple and bought a few things and the owners/workers seem to find us quite comical. Everyone knows who World Vision is though, and you can see a new respect come into their eyes when you tell them you are working as a volunteer with them.
(this is the day Chris fell sick with the flu bug that was going through our group)
Mr. Abion Muntanga is the head of a small village in the Munkolo area, where we were learning about the Choonga Area goat project; an area that has received over 300 goats into the community through the provision of the Gift Catalogue. He was telling us this story to try and help explain how the community feels about receiving these blessings. It may seem a little different, after translation, and my trying to get it copied down as it was spoken, but I think you’ll get the drift, although I admit I’m still a little confused as to the point he was trying to make.
“There was a school child doing well. The father told the son that if he passed his grades he would buy him a vehicle. The child was very happy. He told his friends and he did well. The time came for the boy to receive his graduation present; friends and family gathered to watch as he received his gift. He was handed a parcel, when he opened it he found a bible and was not pleased. He was frustrated, he had expected a vehicle, not a bible! He wanted revenge on his parents and so he killed them. After killing his parents he was all alone and so he sat down and looked at his books from school, he looked at the bible he had been give. Inside he found a check and a letter. The letter told him to take the check and buy a vehicle. He was surprised and realized he had made a horrible mistake, that he had been told the truth. He then went on to study the bible and became a preacher.”
Mr. Muntanga then said to us, “ here in Munkolo we received such a bible, we didn’t want to kill when we received it, we were happy, then we looked inside and we saw a good thing; inside was a gift from Canada.
In 2000 ADP Kalomo started training Mr. Muntanga about raising healthy small animals. He went back to the community and told of his training and after discussions it was decided they would keep goats. The community started to built a koral . He told us that like the story of the boy many could not see the light at the end of the tunnel and stopped helping, but 9 members remained and they finished building a strong structure and they each received 3 female goats. They took it upon themselves to look for a ‘billy’ and after finding one many babies were born. As promised to WV for the gift of goats, the offspring were passed on to others in need. As the debt was repaid they were able to keep more of the offspring and were able to start selling them. They were able to raise1.2 million kawachas (approx $300); from the profits they bought a calf, which has been growing strong and this year will finally be able to help with the plowing. Their goal was to help to community become stronger, healthier and self-reliant, which is finally coming to fruition; “so you see“, he says, “the item in the bible is bearing fruit and they are sharing the message to do good when they have enough and help their neighbours.” He wanted to thank World Vision and all Canadians, through their empowerment the lives in this community are improving.
Mr. Muntanga is still telling us about his hopes and dreams for his community and what they are accomplishing at present. The community has now been trained, through the Kalomo ADP agricultural programs in conservation farming; a method of crop rotation to help preserve the land, rejuvenating the soil with compost of plants and manure - a sustainable way of using the land. In the ‘old days’, Mr. Muntanga told us, as the soil became depleted from over use, the families would move on to new plots of land. As the population grew, the availability of new land became increasing hard to find and so families, communities and villages stayed put. This is what has lead to the poor production of crops and the hardships they face in feeding their families; but now with the new farming techniques being taught things are improving for everyone. They have learned to dig deep pits, that they fill with layers of vegetation and manure, layer upon layer, until it is ready to be spread on his 3 hectares of fields. He told us, that this year alone, they have been able to harvest 400 - 500 bags of maize, an amount they have never seen before. The use of the goat droppings as fertilizer is a huge advantage for them, as it’s free! Buying fertilizers before was very expensive. Mr. Muntanga has also been trained as a community livestock assistant and has vaccinate approximately 400 animals, so far in May; his target amount is 1100 animals. He told the ADP he would like to be able to get around faster to the other farms and so was also given the gift of a bike. He is one happy man! By having someone close by to vaccinate the animals, it has stopped most of the outbreaks of diseases in the goat population, therefore ensuring less loss and more profit. His hope, as they raise more money from fruit, vegetable and goat sales, is to be able to gather more of the vulnerable youths (orphans) into the community and give them hope and a safe place to live.
“this”, he said, “are the results Canadians have made through World Vision”
We were then introduced to Jimmy Macambu, who told us about the vulnerable youths that live within the community (himself being one). The youth (all boys, it seemed) grew tomatoes last year, using only goat droppings as fertilizer and were blessed with a bumper crop. They were able to sell their extras and raise $415,00 kawacha (about $80.00) with which they bought 5 goats. World Vision also donated sewing machines and now the boys are learning to sew and tailor, at present making small items and trying to find a market for them. They can sell a child's dress for about 8,00 kawacha, or trade for maize. I was very interested (being sewer myself) to see where they have their shop, and the machines, but was told it was to great a distance from where we were. They too commented that they are so thankful to Canadians for the chance to be able to support themselves.
They took us on a short hike trough the tall grass to where their garden is located (next to a pond, for easier irrigation, using a treadle pump) where they have a small bed of tomato seedlings ready for transplant into the larger beds, and we were given a demonstration on watering techniques. I noticed that it is not unusual here to see young men walking, with fingers linked or hands held. I suppose when you have been left an orphan and have seen and been through some of the things these young men have had to endure, that it is a means of support, just letting each other know - ‘you are not alone’.
We next visited the goat enclosures, where a very old gentleman, dressed in his best suit, came to greet us. We had the opportunity to cuddle baby goats (oh so soft and cuddly, missing my kitties) and a few of us took the opportunity to try a milk them, much to the delight of the keepers. My pathetic attempts were met with much chortling and gawfs. I realize they eat the goat meat and drink the milk, but when I asked if they made goat cheese, I was met with a look of dismay! They have never heard of goat cheese and when I told them it was very popular here in Canada, their eyes lit up with the thought of yet another opportunity at a new market.
Leaving that area, I spotted these huge bags of something laying on the ground, with cute little children peeking over the edges. When I asked, I was told the bags cotained cotton! I didn't know they grew cotton here!
Walking back to the seating area, we noticed a man and woman sitting and shelling peanuts; another of the popular crops grown here. We asked if we could help and took handfuls back to our seats and started the shelling process, again to smiles and giggles. It seems we were very slow. Things were quite, as we proceeded, the women of the community sitting to the outside of the seating area on their maize bags (another whole blog could be written on the 101 uses of the maize bag!). I suggested to Christy that w start a song, that might invite the women to sign along wit us, Christy having a beautiful signing voice. I decided that Amazing Grace; being one of the few hymns I know all the words to, would be a good choice and so Christy and I began, her beautifully, me not so much. I guess that is a more Western song, as no one joined in, but they did seem to enjoy it.
We were then invited to take turns at pounding the peanuts into crumbs in a wooden pestle, with a very heavy wooden mortise. “make sure you do not make the peanuts jump like the frogs” we were told. Periodically the concoction was emptied into a strained and shaken vigour sly, which none of us could quite get a handle on, the larger pieces then put back for more grinding. That chore accomplished we were served their favourite drink, which is a mix of maize, water and a root for thickening, boiled vigour sly and cooled. When drunk, much sugar was added. I suppose it would be a good drink to re-hydrate while working the fields, and the ground corn at the bottom of the glass would almost be a meal in itself. It was not something I wasn’t particularly enamoured with, but Colin enjoyed it and Utant had 2 or 3 glasses. He told us later, that if left to ferment for a few days, it becomes their beer and much partying and celebration would be had.
It was now time to leave and head back to Zu’s for lunch and the afternoon photo workshop. We have discovered that the workshops will need some tweaking on any subsequent trials, as there were only 2 students that showed up, but more strangled in at different times, I suppose as chores and homework allowed. One student later in the week commented that he didn’t come as a friend had asked him to accompany him to a neighbouring village and this was thought to be more important, a the friend needed the support. It’s to bad he missed that days workshop, but it goes to show, yet again, the sense of community and the feelings of looking out for each other that is the norm here.
Dinner was again eaten at Zu’s, but I am a little tired of rice so decided to pull a Marie Antoinette and ‘EAT CAKE’.
Monday, May 24, 2010
I’m sitting here this morning, able to be drinking my cup of tea and eating a bun with marmalade, thinking how truly fortunate we are to be able to do and have these things after visiting families yesterday, who quite literally have nothing. We are all beyond fortunate to live the lives we have. I have been witnessing how devastated these families are and realize more and more what a difference a simple thing like $40 a month can make in peoples lives. Then I thought, that through last years trip, and this past year I have, with the generosity of friends willing to sponsor been able to touch the lives of 10 children and communities, along with sponsors I have talked to at the different venues I have helped at for World Vision over the past year, which in total must reach over a hundred. That makes me feel so inspired to reach out to more people to change their lives and the lives of those they sponsor.
LATER THAT AFTERNOON…..
This morning we visited Namwinga (original building built in 1947, new WV wing added 2008)) & Mutala Basic Schools ( built 2009), built by World Vision. We heard at both schools how thankful everyone in the community is for having the schools, but how much more there is still to do. Some of the children will walk 25 km or more to get to school and camp in a dormitory type building (I didn’t hear of any supervision in the dormitory) during the week so they are able to attend class. They bring their food with them and cook for themselves in a open, but covered area. Imagine wanting and needing schooling so bad, that you would send your child, on their own, to travel that distance and look after themselves!! Godwin the ADP manager told us that he himself walked 25 km to school as a child.
With the left over materials from the construction of the Mutala School the community has come together and has almost finished another set of 3 classrooms. We are witnessing such an enthusiastic and resourceful people, doing the most with what they have and so appreciative of any help they receive. Everywhere we go World Vision and Canadians in general are held in high regard, treated with respect and thanked profusely.
We then broke into 2 groups, to go on home visits. I went with the group to meet Charmaine & Breanna’s sponsor children in the Namwianga area. Our first visit was to the the Mudenda family to meet Charmaine’s sponsor child, along to help explain and interpret were the ADP staff consisting of Godwin, Kabbila, Edmond and Helen. We were humbly offered their best seats, introductions were made all around and we were then introduced to the community leader who gave us a warm welcome and told us how much the community was being helped by the efforts of the ADP (again with mentions of how much was still left to be done). He was a very intelligent and articulate gentleman. We then met the child’s father, who was so excited to show us the progress he has made in his endeavors to improve the life of his family. He took us across a field to where he has dug out a tiny pond which he is filling with fish fry that he has been catching in the nearby stream. He explained that he was, at first was using a hook, but found the fry were being injured, so has taken to using a net that he had fashioned himself out of wire and mesh. He also had another small pond nearby, but I can’t recall what he had in it. He is using the first pond as a nursery and as the fry grow he is planning to move them to another larger pond where they will mature. He will then re-stock the small pond with more fry, and on the cycle will go. He will be able to supply his family with fish and also have enough left over to sell and generate an income. Such a smart and enterprising man! We were led back to their Nganda (house) where Charmaine had the chance to sit down and visit with her child. Meanwhile around the back, dancing was being performed by the village children, with special guest appearances of the ghost dancer and another comedy type dancer. Reminded me very much of the Hopi people of the southwest and their Kachina dances. The comedy dancer was very comical, with a maize bag covering head to waist and shoes attached to both front and back of the feet, so you really couldn’t tell which way he was actually standing; the children where in hysterics at the antics. To find out more info on the child and family’s life you will have to visit Charmaine’s blog , as I must admit, I was out back enjoying the dancing.
We took our leave and carried on to meet the Njanya family of which Breanna’s child is a member, and where into our group of staff were added Dessie, Masauso & Keyana. One of these staff members will be the ‘case’ worker for the family and the one who will facilitate the letters between child and sponsor, making sure the family is as healthy as can be expected. His family consist of a widowed mother with 4 small children to raise. She has no job from which to earn an income and so travels around the community looking for what they call ‘piece work’, anything she can do to earn a few kwacha’s to be able to feed her family. Even though WV has built a bore hole with pump within the community, she is charged for her water, 50 kwacha (which is no more than a few pennies but which she cannot afford on most days) by the local community, which helps to maintaining the pump for the bore hole. I find it hard to fathom that there are people so poor that they must decide on whether to have water to drink or food to eat. When I asked an ADP member what would happen to her without the help of having a sponsored child, he responded that they would starve. In shock I asked if the community would not have helped and was told that there was not much the community could do except offer her small jobs at the pump to enable her to earn enough to purchase her water! The sponsor child was also quite ill looking, with what seemed to be a respiratory infection, and we learned this week, that the ADP staff had taken him to hospital where he was treated for what was probably asthma. Without the sponsor ship of the one child I’m not sure how the family would have survived. Sponsors for the rest of the children would make a major impact on their lives, so let’s all think of people we know that might be willing to open their hearts and help this devastated family.
All the families seem to understand the concept of how the community benefits from sponsorship, but when asked, are also hoping for some small bit of help from the ADP in regards to school uniforms, shoes and warm blankets for the children. We were able to take a peek into their home where we discovered it was no larger than shoe box, the mother sleeping on one side of a drape strung across one end of the structure , the children sleeping together in the main area, possibly sleeping on nothing more than a a floor cloth made out of Maize bags. I have been finding it actually quite cold in the evenings and wonder how those poor little tykes must feel. It just makes you want to cry at their suffering. Everything within this tiny home was clean and as neat as a pin.
It amazes me how resilient these people are, never asking a hand-out, just dealing with their lot in life. Now that a child of the family has been sponsored I’m hopeful there will be many changes for this small and vulnerable family.
We then broke for lunch at Zu’s Guest House. Was very much the same fare as served at First Choice, but it did have a little more flavour. This was the same venue where we were meeting the group of children for the 1st photo workshop. We had 10 children attend and Colin & Christy explained to them the basic principles of camera operation. Then one volunteer and one of the ADP staff then went along with the child to practice taking pictures around the Guest House. There was much giggling and laughing going on as they all got a turn with the cameras and to pose. The 2 hours went by very quickly and we are looking forward to the next workshop.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
The second visit of the day on Friday was to Jane, my friends Claudia and Moe's sponsor child. What a sweet little girl! Again, she lives miles into the wilderness and you can't help but wonder how hard life must be for these families to travel, what must be a 2 day walking trip to Zimba, to get staples, and then having to carry them back. Utant told us they probably only go every few months and the purchases would be beans, maize meal, oil and salt. I purchased a 25 kl sack of maize meal, oil, beans and dried fish (a real treat so I'm told) to help the family out. Jane lives with her mother Grace, Grandfather Morris, brother Ephrim,age 2 yr., and sister Rachel age 1 yr. Jane helps to carry water from the bore hole a good distance away and she is in Grade 1. I asked the family what they hoped that Jane's sponsorship would do for the family and they told me they hoped for blankets, a school uniform and shoes. The group has found that all the families we have met seem to understand the help and work World Vision does within the communities. Health care seems to be of foremost importance to these rural people. World Vision has built the hospital you will be hearing about, but it is a good distance away from the family and Morris told me he wished for facilities that were closer.
At the end of the visit one of the group noticed a boy chasing a chicken round the yard, ending up in the house, where he caught it. Grace went and took the chicken from him and to my great surprise gave him to me as a gift. It would have been so rude to refuse, but I certainly felt like it, as this family had so little. I have named him Henry and at the moment he is living at Lidia's house until we find a home for him, where they are not going to eat him for supper! The ADP staff wanted to bring him back to First Choice so we could have him for dinner next week and can't seem to understand that I can't eat a chicken I know.
Claudia...more will come about Jane and her visit, at this time I'm trying to take advantage of the internet and get a few stories up.
Till next time
Keep watching, they may not be here till I get back, the internet here is so slow, but boy the stories and experiences I have to tell will be worth it, even if as little long winded.
ariel shot Victoria Falls
I’m not sure what the temperatures have been during the day, but let’s just say it’s amazingly hot and quite chilly at night. My worst fear came true and one bag was missing when I arrived, of course it was the one with the bulk of my stuff, but I have just heard they have located it and I should have it back by Wed. Luckily I had split most things up between bags and I have sufficient clean clothes to last till then. One of Patrica’s bags was also misplaced and that should arrive, along with mine.
So, enough about the travel to get here, let’s get started on what’s been happening already.
Maria met us at the airport along with Godwin, the Kalomo ADP manager, Eustance and Utant, two of the gentlemen that work at the office (Kathy waited at the Lodge). We learned right away that Mwayusa means good afternoon, Myvanpona is how are you? Kabotu is good/fine. The staff were warm and welcoming to this large group of Canadians that were arriving on their doorstep. I understand we are the largest group to ever visit the ADP and the only group to ever actually stay in Kalomo. We were driven to our accommodations for our first night on African soil (this year anyway, for some of us), the Wasawange Lodge in Livingstone. I could tell right away, on the drive from the airport, that this was not going to be the same kind of visit as I had last year in South Africa. Livingstone is a very small city, the roads in disrepair, most things looked run down, dirty and you could sense the air of poverty around you. The Wasawange Lodge was comfortable and clean, but even there you knew you weren’t in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. I had the sense of everything having a coat of dust on it. We unloaded our bags into our rooms (2 per, I was with Brooke) quickly cleaned ourselves up, then headed back into town to exchange our money into Kwacha. For a short time between then and today I was a millionaire! Approximately 1million Kwacha equals $225.00 US. What a huge wad of cash that is. They don’t use coins here, straight dollars and it’s very confusing for someone as mathematically challenged as me, to try and figure out the what things equal out to when paying or making a purchase. Good thing we have some math whiz’s along with us. We had a few street vendors come up to us and try and sell items (were told to ignore them.) and am happy to say I didn’t notice anyone with their hand out. From the bank we went to a supermarket, where we picked up some different dried goods for our own consumption, as Maria had warned us that we would find no “supermarkets” in Kalomo and if we wanted to stock up on some things, now was the time. It was a fine store, full of everything we have at home from dry goods to bakery and I was as overwhelmed again, as last year, at finding the same kinds of foods as at home, along with their traditional items. No souvenir/handicrafts were anywhere to be seen on any of the stops, and when I asked about the possibility, I was told that Victoria Falls will probably be the only chance. Another difference from SA. After filling our baskets we head to a very nice outdoor restaurant for dinner, where I managed to get myself a grilled cheese. Not very adventurous am I? Comfort food, that’s what I call it. The food, for me, was shall we say different, most thought it was quite good, I’m just so picky, I know. We went back to the Lodge and turned in for the night. I managed to sleep from about 9:30 till 2 am, then was up outside conversing with the bats again (another re-run from last year) and other critters. Nothing too strange as yet, but there are the constant mosquitoes, night AND day, with the malaria worry. (Day 3 and Helen tells us they get malaria at least once a year) I didn’t use the bed net, as I was afraid of waking up and getting wrap up in it, doing a scene from a Looney Tunes cartoon. Luckily I only heard 1 in the room during the night and he was quickly dispatched. Here in Kalomo it’s very dry, so I wouldn’t have expected many, as I always thought they needed water to lay their eggs, but there does seem to be an over abundance of them and I suppose, as I‘ve noticed many small pools of standing, stagnant water, that must be the breading grounds. I was up at 6:30 to have breakfast, which was scrambled eggs, crisp bacon, toast and juice. They don’t seem big on coffee here, most seem to have instant, but they’re big on tea. BUT, I did manage a latté with dinner which will have to hold me till the weekend, it looks like.
We left Wasawange Lodge about 9am, all 12 of us packed into 1 van, 5 per side bench and 2 up front, with all the luggage jammed into the other. The Zambian government is trying to improve the highways, consequently there was approx. 45 km of rough, dirt road to start (we got very close, very fast as we bounced and bobbed into each other). Lots of dust as trucks passed by the other side (they do drive on the ‘wrong’ side here as well). Sore butts and cramped legs were the norm by the time we arrived in Kalomo. It took about 1 ½ hours to get from Livingstone to here, and the temperature stared to soar soon after we were mobile. The landscape it quite flat, with a fair number of different species of trees and brush, not quite as barren as I was thinking it would be after my reading up about Zambia. We spotted numerous little gatherings of thatch huts along the way, quite literally in the middle of no where. We followed alongside the workings of the new highway in different areas and we saw how the workers had built little stick shelters to keep out of the sun, when the chance would arrive. We passed a make shift encampment for the workers and families at one point, which looked to be nothing more than rows of tin roofs and walls. The temperatures must have been excruciating inside them during the days. There seemed to be perhaps 50 men at one point working on the road, all manual labour. At the time we spotted them, they were emptying bags of what looked like dried cement out of sacks and into piles to then be raked out.
We later came across some parked heavy equipment for rolling the pavement, but the hard labour was all by hand. During the drive we spotted Elephant and Zebra crossing signs (went by to fast to get pictures) but unfortunately we weren’t blessed with seeing any wildlife. We passed through a small village of shops about mid point, maybe a dozen small buildings. After about an hour and a half we could tell we were arriving in Kalomo, there was an old tractor trundling down the highway loaded with sacks of corn, heading for the market.
I’m not sure what I was expecting Kalomo to look like, a small town I suppose, which by Zambian terms it is; but what I saw was more of what I would call a village. Perhaps the size of downtown Duncan, (on the Island) and most roads leading off the main highway were a sandy soil. The buildings we could see looked run down, depilated and coated in dust, exactly as you see on documentaries of rural African towns. We turned off the highway not far into the town, down another dirt road, around several bends and there was the First Choice Guest House. It’s laid out motel style, our rooms are small, but we have showers and they’re clean, if run down, and please, don’t take me wrong, the accommodations we have are more than adequate for our needs, I just want everyone to get the feel of the poverty surrounding us. Certainly not somewhere people back home would clamber to stay, but folks here are very proud of it. The people here may not have much, but each and everyone is proud of what they have and see around them. There is an amazing sense of community within the people of Zambia. We had a short time to unload our bags (each in our own separate rooms) then it was time to congregate in the reception hall of the Guest House to met the rest of the staff from the ADP main office here in Kalomo (there are 12 zones to the ADP area). Eighteen of the 23 staff were able to be in attendance, introductions were made all around, and just as Godwin was getting ready to do his power-point presentation about the work that the ADP has been doing, as last year, when something important was about to begin the power went out. After much rushing about trying to get a generator to work it was decided we would head over to the Office, it’s only a 5 minute walk, after lunch to finish up. Just then the power came back on and we were able to proceed. I hate to admit that I couldn’t comprehend a lot of what Godwin and the rest of the staff were explaining, due to the strong accents, where I was sitting and still being (only slightly) brain dead. I tried to use the recorder on the Mp3 player I brought, but somehow in turning it on, I must have hit a button and everything reverted to Japanese, so I couldn’t decipher which program I was needing; that was frustrating! I’m sure most of you have already read the details about Kalomo on the www.mychildsponsorship.ca website and don’t need a refresher on those facts, so I’ll just make note of few of the interesting things I remember.
There is a predominant amount of orphaned school children, due to HIV/AIDS and it is a constant challenge to be able to get them to school. We learned that the government has mandated that children do not have to wear uniforms to attend, which was so good to hear, but the distance they have to travel makes it very hard for most of them. Paying school fees is a hardship and more so all the time. Primary school goes from grades 1 through 7 and costs an average of $50.00 US a year. Basic school is grades 8 to 9 and costs $150 US for a year, which consist of 3 terms of 4 months each. High School is grades 10 to 12 and the cost rises to $150US per term (3 terms per year). These costs do not include books, pencils, paper, not to mention shoes, clothes etc. Most children will stop attending by grade 7, due to the costs. We asked what they would do then and were told as there is no work available, they sit at home and do nothing, just staring at the walls. Work is a challenge to find even if they do finish school, a college education is of utmost importance to acquiring work. College requires moving to one of the cities to attend and that is the only place jobs may be available as well. As money is scarce, few manage to get that far. As we witnessed last year in South Africa, the need for industry of some sort seems to be one of the most important things needed to take these countries out of the poverty. Things like micro enterprise being offered by World Vision, through donations to the Gift Catalogue, make a HUGE impact on the lives of the people in these countries; offering a chance to start small businesses, which in turn allow the people to hire others to help run their enterprises as they grow, giving all a chance towards more sustainable lives.
HIV/AIDS is still devastating the country, but it is becoming easier for people to access preventative education and receive treatment as more clinics are being built in the rural areas. There has not been a significant reduction in the numbers infected, they are still struggling with mother to child infections and few have access to the ARV’s due to the poverty. World Vision has many projects on the go, to try and ease some of the suffering and get more information out to people, such as the Project Hope program.
We stopped for our lunch, then headed over to the ADP office which is located within 3 buildings holding very small, cramped and exceedingly hot offices. No air conditioning for these poor folks and they have tried to make room in each office for 2 or more people which makes for what must be hard working conditions, not something we at home can even begin to imagine working in. I was so excited to see the bags of mail waiting to go out to the sponsor children in one of the offices. I met Helen there and she told me how excited the children get when they receive messages from their sponsors, even a postcard is treasured, carried with them and shown to all. I’ve always thought since I started sponsoring, how important it is to correspond with your child, and now even more so, knowing that their sponsor, on the other side of the world has taken the time to say Hi is such a thrill for them, they feel King or Queen for the day (or week or month). It’s so easy to bring that much joy to these children.
After our visit we were given the opportunity to go to the ‘Market’ so we could purchase food for our home visits, if we so desired. That was an unbelievable experience. I’m not sure I can even put it into words, I may have to let the pictures do the talking here.
I was truly dumbfound by what we experienced! I have never encountered such a maze of stalls and what they were selling, but we managed to pick up beans, fish and oil for the families along with the earlier purchase of maize, which they use for so many meals. It’s the main staple of life here. I was also able to purchase the much sought after electric kettle, as mine is still missing in action. Joy found everywhere! With that under our belts we came back ‘home’ for dinner where we discussed the days activities and the 3 most memorable experience of each person, all with lively discussions. It was a late night to bed for most of us, midnight or so and as I was awoken at 4 by the rooster next door who decided it was time for me to get up, I am going to end now. I do want to say though as I work here tonight again at midnight and the fellow is already crowing, we will be having chicken dinner tomorrow!