Thursday 3rd July
The power is back on! It appears that between about 18.30 and 19.30 (Supper time) is a good time to cut power. In fact I don't think that there is enough power for everyone to cook at once so the easiest way to solve the problem is to cut the power to half of the population and then swap over!
Yesterday, at my parish back in Cheltenham, they were celebrating the 150th anniversary of the building of the church. Here in Monze I am attempting to develop a link with the people of the church of “Our Lady of the Wayside”. It therefore seemed appropriate for us here to join in the celebrations. I therefore brought a webcam with me and John arranged things at the Cheltenham end. So at 19.30 (after last night's power cut) I headed to the priest's house with a less than 50-50 expectation of any sort of success.
In the end we had a very successful evening spending well over an hour seeing and talking to each other. It was a great chance for Fr. Maambo – the priest in charge at Our Lady of the Wayside – to meet some of the parishioners of St. Gregory's church and them to meet him. Unfortunately it was late here and we are some way from the church – so no other parishioners from here could take part. It is good to know the technology works and we will try to repeat the experience at a more convenient time. It makes a huge difference to be able to see as well as talk to people. This was highlighted by someone who commented about the amount Fr. Maambo smiled and I realised how much can be communicated with a smile. I hope some day to be able to set up similar sessions for school links – eventually these could become more sophisticated with a lot of computer interaction possible. I suspect that it was a surprise for some to find ordinary people here in Zambia chatting to them via the Internet.
There are strong rumours that Levy Mwanwasa (The President of Zambia) died today. The government here has denied them – we shall see. Mr. Mwanwasa had suffered a couple of strokes in the past and was taken ill before he could take part in the conference in Egypt. This is a critical time in this part of the world. Mr. Mwanwasa had spoken out in an attempt to delay the elections in Zimbabwe. He is also the current chairman of SADC which has an important role in trying to resolve the current crisis. Despite the current difficulties in Zambia large numbers of refugees have been received into the country making the situation here even more difficult.
I have been given a small project at the hospital but it will take a few more days to be able to get my teeth into it. Reymond finally managed to find me today. In the past I have been amazed at his radar – which usually locates me whever I am! I will probably meet up with Charles at the weekend to talk about how his project can be brought back to life after the disaster of the past year.
Another little task – the building of a secondary school for orphaned children (Maluba) – is moving well. I visited the site this afternoon and the foundations are in place and they expect to start laying the concrete slab and making the hydroform bricks. These are the bricks that are formed mainly of soil compressed at high pressure – they are moulded to fit together without the need for mortar and produce excellent buildings very quickly. The handpump is working well and there is now a hut for the security guard. My biggest surprise was that it is already in use! A group of children, who one day hope to be students at the school, were using the field for a football match.
As usual the days are too short – though when you are still talking to people from Cheltenham at gone 11pm they become a little longer!
With luck I'll have any earlier night tonight!!