Wednesday 14th October
It is already just a month before I return to the UK. Time is passing too fast here in Monze. I still have a lot to do and more people to see.
Yesterday the guys arrived just before 9 hrs to spray insecticide in the house. I had to leave the house, so I decided to visit the Internet café and test the wifi. I connected successfully but for some reason the anti-virus software failed to update. However, I didn't have to risk picking virus up through the memory stick – just direct from the Internet!
I called around to the hospital, meeting Mr. Phiri from 'Sweet Sixteen' - the barbers – en route, as usual he asked after Emily who was here in 2004. I popped my head around the ICU open door. (Unfortunately they haven't any air conditioning installed! Patience told me that a couple of free standing fans would suffice!) She gave me a list of items needed for the ICU last year but so far nothing has arrived. She told me she was busy with two very ill patients at the moment. At least they have her full attention – unlike in the other wards often with 30 – 60 patients to one nurse.
As I made my way out I spotted Justina. So we spent some time discussing her plans to establish 'LIFE Zambia' here in Monze. As with the LIFE organisation in the UK, it would aim to provide positive support for women during and after pregnancy – even if they choose to have an abortion. In Zambia the number of people coming to the hospital after an abortion – sometimes incomplete – is growing. As in the UK the women, sometimes under pressure, decide that the difficulties they would face if they continue with the pregnancy are too great. The organisation would seek to provide support to address these problems wherever possible, so that both mother and child can have a fruitful life. I am liaising with LIFE UK to support her in this venture.
By the time I arrived back home it was time to go out again! I grabbed a couple of glasses of squash to relieve the dehydration and a couple of bananas to stave off hunger and rushed to meet with Mrs. Sianga.
She was offered another piece of land but it was quite narrow and expensive. The owner has agreed to extend the plot, making it a more useful size. The price however has also increased – though not quite in proportion. She wanted me to see the new plot and see whether it could be funded (we might also attempt a further bit of negotiation with the landowner.)
As I passed through the market on my way back, I met Lashford. He was in charge of the building of the ICU in 2003 and last year supervised the building of Maluba school. Almost the last time we met last year he was mourning for the death of his young child of about one year old. Yesterday he told me that his wife died in July. Please remember Lashford and his family in your prayers.
I moved the furniture back into position, uncovered the crockery etc., brought in the food from outside and cleaned the house after the action of the mosquito killers.
I felt quite tired, so I had an early night.
This morning I had an appointment at Our Lady of the Wayside church at 9 hrs. As neither Fr. Maambo or St Veronica's executive committee were about, I set about getting a few photos. The shelters in the church grounds are beautiful – I will include some with this blog if I can remember how to place photos throughout the blog. I hope to provide photos with each blog from now on. There is one shelter with angel cartoons and a thank you message. Another has pictures representing bible scenes used as meditation during the saying of the rosary. One has a herd of elephants running around it – a painting, not the real thing! Another drums etc. I have a pretty full set! I am sure they would be excellent for illustrating children's booklets – they could do with the royalties! I hope that, if by posting them on my blog, Google want to use them they will at least give a donation! ( they can have full quality versions for a negotiated amount!!)
After my meeting I went to see Sr. Catherine. Sr. Catherine is an Italian nun who has been in this region of the world for the past 35 years. She currently coordinates the Home Based Care and VCT (Voluntary counselling and Testing) services for the church. All churches in the Catholic Diocese have such centres to support the local community. She told me that this year they are unable to get out into the villages or do other activities because the donor that provided money has none to offer this year. Inevitably more lives will be lost as a result. She says there is still a lot of stigma attached to HIV/AIDS (I suspect it is even more so in the UK!). Particularly in the professions, people don't go for testing or treatment because of the stigma and lose their lives as a result. A lot of the outreach work is to educate and reduce the stigma attached to the disease.
Sr. Catherine gave me a lift close to home saving me a few kilometres. The rest of today has given me a chance to record and assimilate a lot of the information I have gathered over the past couple of days. So I now have a few more reports to pass back to various parties in the UK for information and consultation.
I finished my John Grisham novel yesterday. I didn't bring out much reading material this year, but I have a small book called “The Practice of the Presence of God”. I have a feeling this was a donation from a friend. It contains conversations and letters of a 17th century monk who devoted his life to recognising the presence of God with him at all times. It is interesting how often a random selection of books can give a consistent message. I have with me a trinity of books with a spiritual theme. All of them are written by people who have had a personal experience of God and therefore, perhaps not surprisingly, they describe the same God. A God who is a God of love and relationship. A God who thinks that I am special and so are you and who doesn't waste too much time and energy on religion! This God is also a God of now – not one dwelling in the past or future. I am sure there is a clear message for me here – and one I find very difficult.
Sr. Catherine was telling me today that the people here are very much of the present and perhaps that's why they smile so much. If they have 3 bags of sugar, she says, they will eat it all straight away and if asked what they will do tomorrow when they have none, they will say that they will have enjoyed eating the sugar today. (No doubt with a huge smile on their faces!)
Tomorrow I have nothing planned so I look forward to what my God has up his sleeve for me – its usually something a bit special – we will wait and see.
May God bless you all
P.S. I am trouble with pictures hoe to resolve this soon, Chris.