Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Death of a much respected President

Wednesday 20th August

It is a Catholic tradition to celebrate good examples of people of faith who we believe are receiving their reward in heaven. Today is St. Bernard's feast day he was a thirteenth century saint. Since it is also a tradition to take a saint's name at baptism (or christening) we can often get an extra celebration on the saint's feast day. I think that it is my uncle's birthday today and since he is called Bernard he has a double reason to celebrate but misses out on a second occasion. St. Christopher unfortunately has been removed from the calendar of saints and therefore I don't get a second excuse!

Yesterday President Levy Mwanawasa died. I suspect that he has been kept alive on a life support machine for the past 7 weeks and it was time that nature was allowed to take its natural course. President Mwanawasa was generally considered to have done a good job here and was half way through his third term of office. He was well respected around the world and enabled Zambia to be one of those countries that qualified for Debt Relief. This has made a difference. For instance hospital workers owed pay and allowances over many years are now receiving these payments. One of the results is that some are now able to return to Monze to retire and many buildings are going up stimulating the economy here. The mood at the hospital has been a bit subdued as a result – many feel a great loss and had a great affection for him. May he rest in peace.

Last night the Team hosted a farewell party. It was never going to be a loud and fun filled event – which in the circumstances was just as well. In fact it turned out to be an extremely moving event. I felt a little out of place not quite belonging to either the team or to the resident population – though feeling a certain affinity with both groups. It made me think of my position now in this world were I live in between the UK and Zambia, not fully belonging to either place. It was very clear that the HATW team were held in great affection by the local people – the children singing a farewell song had tears in their eyes – (probably together with everyone else present). Many moving tributes were paid to both groups who had bonded and formed a unique community over the past three weeks. I must say that everything I have seen tells me that the Team have been true ambassadors for the Charity and the UK. It is never easy for a group of seven to live together for three weeks but this team seemed very comfortable together and fitted into this world very well. Today they left for a couple of well-earned days break in Livingstone before returning to the UK at the weekend. I hope they have a great time and the weather back in the UK perks up so that it isn't too much of a shock to the system.

My job now is to support Mrs. Sianga to see the building completed and eventually to ensure the long-term future of the school through adequate funding. Hopefully you will be hearing about the progress in subsequent years in this blog.

It was back to the hospital today to look at further modification of the stock control system for use in the School. Reymond came around and I was able to pass on a donation which should ensure that those who lost their houses in the flood have a roof over their head before the rainy season. He joined me for a meal which I afraid was not my best! I attempted to replicate some 'relish' served up to us on Monday and I need more practice!!

Best wishes


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