Friday, October 2, 2009

A few days in Chisamba

Tuesday 29th September

I am staying at the council guest house in Chisamba. This is were I stayed last year alon with David and Mrs. Sianga. It is adequate - comprising a room with a mosquito net and toilet and bathroom at the end of the corridor. I have just enjoyed nshima and beef and earlier had my first Mosi of the year.

It is a bit more rural here – the town being much smaller than Monze. Three monkeys ran along the side of the road not far from the town. Last year I seem to remember a zebra had joined a herd of cows just along the road from here.

Yesterday as usual I was rushing around. For once I arose at a respectable time – a bit before 6 hrs. and went to 6.30 mass at the cathedral. (I must post a picture of the cathedral so you can get a better idea of its grandeur!) After breakfast I found a new Internet Café where they have wifi – though in this instance I was content with using one of their computers. Despite my concerns, having experienced the hospital Internet, reasonable Internet access is possible in Monze – though you need to look for the satellite dish. Again unfortunately Zamtel don't seem to be able to deliver the promised service.

I had intended to head for my next appointment direct from the café but realised I hadn't a camera, so I had to return home making me late for my meeting at the Maluba project. Mrs Sianga and Mr Mumbuluma (the headmaster) were waiting for me and after a short discussion we went to meet the children. There is currently just one class at the school – a second year to be added next year. There are 25 students (14 boys and 11 girls) who greeted us in customary style with a song. I guess that the youngest is probably 14 years old and then there are some older students. Because of their backgrounds they are likely to have started their schooling late or might have had considerable gaps. When I arrived last year they were starting to put down the concrete base for the school building. It is good to see that it is now complete and in full operation. Unfortunately my pictures didn't come out well so I will have to take more photos with a better camera (or at least one that is more tolerant of my poor technique!)

My next task was to check on the progress of my letter for the work permit. During this exercise Jennipher appeared. Her group is very keen to get the new shelter up before the rains. Rather than have 'river sand' delivered they are prepared to fetch it themselves in buckets. However, they need some food to give them sufficient energy. Earlier this year David and I met at a service station for a meeting. A couple Of weeks later I arrived home to find a penalty notice for exceeded the two hours allowed. The fine was £100 (or £50 if paid promptly) so I sent the money with a note explaining that I was having a meeting relating to a charity trying to support some of the poorest people. To my surprise the car park management company sent back my cheque. I will be able to buy food for 25 people with the money returned, and they will be able to start building their shelter. This will have the effect of enabling the people to do useful work and should also make them fitter. I will let the car park management company know!

After a bite to eat with Jennipher, it was time to catch up with Mrs Chiiya and the VIM project. After visiting her house and the Moonlite guest house (formerly Nampeyo) owned by her husband, I found Mrs. Chiiya at VIM. This is running though perhaps not quite as intended. The issue facing all these projects is how to raise ongoing funds once the buildings are completed. The aim is to support orphaned and otherwise vulnerable children who need such projects because they can't fund themselves. To resolve these issues is a task I am attempting to address, but the solutions aren't very obvious. The sponsorship scheme seems to be the best idea so far.

I picked up a completed letter and thanked Dr. Mvula before heading back for supper. Having forgotten to defrost the sausage I opted for a peanut stir fry and rice!

After typing a couple of reports and packing my bag for the morning, I had a relatively early night.

This morning I rose a little after six and sorted myself out for the trip to Chisamba. I had asked Luke if he would lend me his camera for a few days so I popped into the hospital before catching my bus. Outside Luke's office I received yet another hug and have to admit that delighted as I was, I couldn't be sure who I was hugging. (I really do have a serious recognition problem!) Fortunately a guy I know very well (whose name escapes me) said hallo to Faith. It is particularly embarrassing not to recognise Faith. She was a nurse who I met many years ago and who wrote to me in England. When I returned the next year I didn't recognise her and I wrote to her apologising. She said she had passed me several times with no recognition. In subsequent years she has made herself known but after the months pass (and she changes her hairstyle) I still fail to remember her. There is another guy Obie who I also forget every year!!

I chose to go on a Rosa bus this time. There are three classes of bus in Zambia. The blue Toyota Hiace minibuses that take about twenty and bounce along barely holding the road – and unfortunately too often they don't. Given the choice I avoid these. The next class is the Rosa buses that are a bit bigger and are usually driven by more experienced drivers and therefore are a little safer. Then there are the coaches that are good quality, go to a schedule and allow you a proper seat. They are more expensive and there are considerable gaps between coaches.

So when I saw my bus almost empty at 8.30 I was a bit perturbed. Rosas (and Toyotas) don't move until they are full. Gradually a few people took their seats, then when the bus seemed almost full* at 9.10 what seemed to be another dozen people suddenly appeared. With all aboard I dosed my way to Lusaka.

*[These buses have a column of double seats on one side and a single column on the other. You then pull down another seat in the aisle to accommodate a fourth seat in the row. It does make exiting a challenge! Young children get passed overhead until they find an appropriate lap – as in planes small children are not entitled to a seat of their own.]

I was surprised to find Mr Zulu ready to see me at 12.45. (Mr Zulu of CHAZ {Christian Association of Zambia}is another person I haven't recognised in the past – to my shame). After getting some passport photos done by a guy with a camera on the street and a couple of photocopies of my passport, I visited another CHAZ employee Chris who to my surprise and delight took the process of renewing my work permit another couple of steps closer.

At nearly 16 hrs I met up with Godfrey who had been waiting to take me to Chisamba. When we arrived we went straight to the project (Kalyangile) site and looked at the current state of play and talked about the future plans.

So here I am about to have a final Mosi before retiring.

Wednesday 30th September

I was reminded today that much of my time in Zambia is spent waiting to see people. Today was one of those days, however I still managed to make good use of the time. I had a long discussion with Patrick this morning. He has provided the land and has been very much behind the project from it's inception. He suggested that if I was to stay till Saturday he could organise a committee meeting. So I will go into Lusaka on Friday to further my Employment Permit extension and return to Monze Saturday afternoon.
This afternoon after putting some thoughts down on my laptop, I decided to check out the area a little. As I mentioned the town is very small in comparison to Monze. The Guest House is on the road that leads back to Lusaka. It has a pleasant shelter in the front where it is very pleasant to sit, have a drink and pass the time of day with local people. At lunchtime I sat and read there for a while. He in Zambia it is generally very pleasant during the day to sit outside in the shade. Yesterday I am told it reached 36 C here.

Chickens are busy around the guest house – and almost everywhere else around here. These are the very free range variety! I noticed a number of pretty butterflies today – swallowtails - yellow, red and white - are common. There were also a few smaller but equally pretty varieties that passed by. Unfortunately I didn't bring my bird book to Chisamba – the laptop was heavy enough – so I can't pick out some of the different birds I have seen – though house sparrows are more common here than in the UK.

Back in Monze I live on the other side of the railway tracks to the town. I have found the various paths that allow me generally to keep in a straight line to get to wherever I am heading in town. A couple of days ago I saw a bird giving a very unusual display. It was repeatedly lifting feathers near it's tail - I think it was a type of kestrel. It then dived presumably for some creature it saw. Later in the day I saw a shrew like animal dart across the path very close to where I had seen the kestrel. I was a little surprised to see this activity so close to the town centre.

Here, I walked down the main road towards Lusaka and was very soon joined by Godwin and Benson, two lads who told me they were in grade 8. (The first year of secondary school) So we walked together for the next hour or so talking about our respective countries. When asked about the monkeys, Benson told me that there are many in the forest - the other side of the roadside farm. He said that there are also zebra, impala and giraffe to be found there. Maybe one day they will give me a guided tour!

Best wishes


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