Tuesday 22nd July
There is a notice in the hospital from Zesco which apparently explains the reason for the 'power shedding' that we are currently experiencing. It also explains why it will improve, or get worse (I can't quite make up my mind which) over the next few weeks.
Yes, once again my cooking is interrupted and I am taking the opportunity to do some typing by candlelight.
It is about time that I commented on the weather. I think that nearly two weeks ago I explained that I no longer needed a jumper. Well for some time now – probably in fact from about the time of that statement – there has been a distinct chill in the air. The local term is cold! In fact the daily temperatures have just about reached 20 C and nightime temperatures have been dipping down to 10 C or slightly below. Even the sun has hidden occasionally behind clouds and has been a little hazy weakening its power.
Yesterday I met with Dr. Mvula (Executive Director) to try to ensure that the hospital gets value for money out of me this year. We had a very constructive discussion and I think that I should be very busy.
At lunchtime I rushed out to the Maluba site to inspect progress. Thingds are progressing with toilets constructed, The storeroom well underway and a small shelter being built. I was also very glad to see that the brickmaking machine was on site and production was underway. It was good to see some finished bricks hardening ready for building next week.
I am planning to produce some form of initial report this week. As it is likely that I will be travelling to Lusaka on Friday that means by Thursday.
One of the Holy Spirit sisters came to me in the afternoon with a laptop she had been given – so I am giving a few informal lessons in the Open Office programs thay have been installed. I am glad to see that Open Office is becoming more common. Dr. Mvula is very keen on promoting Open Source software and is taken part in an exercise to increase local awareness. In the UK now some high street shops such as WH Smiths now sell Open Office software for about £5. Of course you can download it perfectly legally over the Internet free. If all you need is a good word processor, spreadsheet and presentation package then Open Office is excellent. Or you could pay £200 or more for Microsoft Office and you will get virtually the same product and Micro$oft will say thank you for wasting your money!
During my meeting at the Maluba Secondary School site Eli told me of an issue that he has been grappling with for sometime. I told him that I would try to help him by seeking advice from the World Wide Web! His question is “Who was it that first invented the wheel” - if you don't know the actual name of the inventor maybe a clue as to which part of the world first made use of the wheel would be helpful. Now I have great confidence that with the help of your networks of friends we will be able to provide a lot of help to Eli – so I look forward to the responses!
Well still very much in the dark, I will say goodnight!!
Thursday 24th July
Another couple of days have passed so quickly. Selina is counting the days before she is allowed out and can run around again – it will be strange not to have a couple of kilograms hanging from her arm. I seem to have gained control of the key to the gate leading from the children's ward to Homecraft. This means about 4 kilometres a day less walking! I might not lose so much weight this year after all.
Today I visited the site again to see how things are progressing – with the team coming out on Saturday, I just wanted to ensure that evrything is well under control. Lashford was resting in full sun against some sand and instead of the customary I'm fine told me he wasn't feeling well. He has caught malaria. He has some medication and says he will be OK by tomorrow. Yesterday I met Mrs. Sianga at the hospital – she has damaged her foot and had a POP (Plaster of Paris) bandage on her foot and a pair of crutches. So everything is very fine!
I spent some time chatting to Victor the owner of the brick making machine. He has another machine that is electric – but as there is no power on site the one in use is manual. (With the current electricity situation – no pun intended – I think manual is better anyway!). When I asked him where he got the machines from he told me that he made them. He went on to tell me that his dream is to have the equipment to produce the manual machines for use in the community. He says that for a rural community such a machine would enable them to build their own community schools etc. he pointed to a structure thatched with grass and probably only supported by a few branches like the 'chapel' I saw last week and told me that it was a school put up by people desperate to have somewhere where there children can learn.
I had similar thoughts when I saw the machine the other day. The bricks produced by the machine should provide a very good structure that is not only solid but is very attractive. The bricks fit together and therefore simple structures can largely be put together by unskilled people. Victor says that he would be willing to make these for the community without making any profit. So if anyone wants to provide a lathe and 'shaper' Victor is ready to set up his factory and go into production. (he says he already has the other tools needed.).
Don't worry there are endless opportunities for investors here if there are any Dragons out there! However don't expect a percentage of the profits!!
Since my load shedding recipes seem to have hit a nerve, I have a couple more for you to try! On Tuesday the power returned at about 9.45 pm. So I turned by one course meal into three and ate it over a couple of hours. The appetiser comprised boiled cabbage (lukewarm!) for my second course I had spring onion and tomato sandwiches (the onions were chopped but not cooked and the rice hadn't got as far as the pan before the power went) finally I finished the cooking of the bream at 10 pm.and had it as dessert! Tonight I was fortunate because my peanut risotto was just about cooked by the time the hotplate cooled!!
Well it is to Lusaka tomorrow – I think I organised accommodation for Friday night - we shall see. I will be picked up at 6 am Saturday to meet the Hands Around The World team at the airport. So this will probably be posted in Lusaka.